50 best television shows set across the United States

11 of 52

Georgia: Rectify

The premise: A man, Daniel Holden, is released after 19 years on death row when his conviction is overturned on a technicality. Daniel spent most of his time in prison in solitary confinement and struggles to adjust to life back home in his small Georgia town.

The show neither confirms nor denies Daniel’s innocence, and we are left to get to know him without that knowledge clouding our judgment either way. His town also struggles to understand how to accept him (or not), and the show is as much about the ideals of a small community as it is about whether or not Daniel actually committed the rape he is accused of.

The setting: The show takes place mostly in the sleepy town of Paulie, Georgia. Although no such place actually exists, it’s meant to be a metaphorical fusion of every small Southern town. It doesn’t romanticize such towns, and it never makes a caricature out of its residents or the culture, in general. Paulie is traditional and quiet, and the show treats its values with respect and introspective.

The most Georgia thing about it: Daniel’s family and his loved ones look more like any Southern family as any I’ve seen on television. They are complicated and messy, and the show gets it right in almost every way. It feels authentic right down to the way the characters medicate tough situations with food. Tough conversations are had over barbeque or fried chicken, and Daniel’s mother always offers food as a balm to his troubles.