50 best television shows set across the United States

37 of 52

Oklahoma: Carnivale

The premise: Carnivale tells dueling stories in early 20th-century middle America, revolving around the gradual convergence of the tale of a California preacher and a traveling carnival. The series invokes quite a bit of religious mythology, including Christian lore and Masonic traditions and rituals.

The setting: The show takes place in the Dustbowl of the 1930s. This was a desperate time in American history, with so many people losing their livelihood to the Great Depression. People looked to religion and escape to get them through the hardest times, so it’s no secret this show invokes all of this to tell stories of good versus evil.

The show had one of the largest cast of its time, and even for HBO, it got a little expensive to continue to produce. However, it was this myriad of characters — many of whom were outcasts — that might have been its downfall with mainstream audiences.

The most Oklahoma thing about it: While the whole country suffered from the effects of The Great Depression, the middle of the country, particularly The Dust Bowl of Oklahoma, was the hardest hit. Anybody who’s ever even read one John Steinbeck novel will understand the aesthetic of this time and place.