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A scene from Treme, season 3.

Paul Schiraldi/Paul Schiraldi Photography

Treme, which is set in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina (spanning the years 2005-2008 so far) has gotten mostly good reviews since its much hyped bow in 2010, but not great ones.

Its ratings have likewise been solid but unspectacular. It has been roundly ignored by Emmy voters in all major categories (this despite the presence of routinely brilliant actors like Wendell Pierce, Khandi Alexander, Melissa Leo and David Morse).

Part of that may have to do with the long shadow cast by The Wire – by many accounts the greatest episodic television series ever produced – but the polite indifference of reviewers and audiences alike may have more to do with the fact that the show (co-created by Eric Overmeyer) eschews the accelerated plotting and heightened melodrama of quality-cable staples like Mad Men and Breaking Bad. It's a slow, meditative and tremendously digressive show about an insular community, and its characters are defined less by ambition and aggressiveness than stubbornness – an ornery quality that's rare in a mainstream entertainment climate that prizes easy ingratiation.

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About the Author

Adam Nayman is a contributing editor for Cinema Scope and writes on film for Montage, Sight and Sound, Reverse Shot and Cineaste. He is a lecturer at Ryerson and the University of Toronto and his first book, a critical study of Paul Verhoeven's SHOWGIRLS, will be published in 2014 by ECW Press. More

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