24. Treme (HBO)
Stars: Wendell Pierce, Khandi Alexander, Steve Zahn, Melissa Leo, Kim Dickens, Rob Brown, David Morse, Michiel Huisman, Lucia Micarelli, Clarke Peters
It didn't take long for many fans of The Wire to abandon creator David Simon's Treme after its April 2010 premiere. Looking for more of the Baltimore crime drama's brand of white-knuckle thrills, viewers quickly realized that Simon's latest HBO property operates on an entirely different wavelength: It's slow-moving, conversational, and, most antithetical to The Wire, upbeat.
Those who've stuck with Treme into its third, and all-around best, season have been rewarded with a tapestry of colorful, fascinating, and diverse New Orleans folks living in a post-Katrina society. Boldly, Simon continued to focus on multiple characters rather than anchor things to one central figure, meaning that LaDonna's (Khandi Alexander) rape trial was just as prescient as Sonny's (Michiel Huisman) drug relapse.
Similar to HBO's Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones, Treme patiently lays all of its narrative pieces out over a season's 10-episode duration in order to tell a complete, well-crafted story. That Simon's calmly paced series doesn't have any gangster shootouts or gruesome sword fights shouldn't be considered a disadvantage.