Thursday, March 8, 2012

FTT Off-Topic: Treme Season 1, Where I Learn Of My Increasing And Utter Intolerance of Suicide

"Treme" is an HBO series, done by many of the guys that did "The Wire", that examines life in post-Katrina New Orleans. It has an excellent cast, some fine writing, an unflinching air of realism and the heft of great work. It's made me appreciate forms of music that I don't usually give the time of day to, and even acquire a small amount of respect for, well, mummery.

And then, in the last two episodes of the first season (Spoiler Alert!), one of the protagonists, who has a brilliant wife and an utterly charming young teenaged daughter, both of whom are devoted to him and every essence of his being... kills himself. For writer's block, or depression over what's happened to his city, or some other utterly unexpressed reason, maybe to give the whole first year an extra zing of pathos, not as if it needed it.

And oh, my, dear reader? I'm not liking it. One bit.

It's a television show, of course, one that should not have emotional impact once it displeases you, and getting angry or annoyed about it is right up there with shaking your fist at the weather, in terms of timewaste. Except that you can also pull up the commentary where the principals defend the decision, or talk about the mechanics of acting through all of it...

And, um, not just raising your third finger to all of it requires effort. Lots of effort.

See, here's the thing about suicide: it can just be the most selfish and repugnant human act, at least if there aren't massive extenuating circumstances. At least the show has the small moment of decency of not actually showing the daughter's shattering breakdown at learning the news.

And yes, the fact that I'm a writer, with daughters and a wife that inspire me to achieve more than I could ever achieve without them -- and that I've struggled with writer's block and depression -- that's made this such a deal-breaker for me. But even beyond that, it's just cheap and hacky writing; the idea that we're going to have opposites of resolution and surrender, just in case we didn't get that everything isn't going to be all right.

GACK. A long journey to nowhere. AVOID. (And yet... when Season 2 comes out on DVD, I'm probably watching it as well. And punching myself. A lot.)

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