TV Shows Set in Underrepresented Cities
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia recently premiered its 13th season (yes, 13!), and we may be a little biased, but it’s one of our long time favorites. Sure, we love how despicable and hilarious Charlie, Dennis, Dee, Mac, and Frank are (and bless them for the gift that is Kitten Mittens), but we’re also fans because of the love it bestows on our oft forgotten city of Philadelphia (and, let’s be honest, Chase Utley). Many television shows are set in the same cities: New York City, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago—so it’s nice when the love is spread around to some other fine cities in this country. In honor of that, we wanted to celebrate some television shows that have taken it upon themselves to tell stories in the underrepresented cities of the television landscape. Let’s take a look!
Thirtysomething (1987 – 1991)
The ensemble drama followed a group of friends navigating growing families and the disillusionment that comes with, well, being in your thirties. There was a whole lot of angst, drama, and tears—so many tears!—going down in Philly. The show went on to win 13 Emmys throughout its four seasons.
Boy Meets World (1993 – 2000)
This TGIF staple was set in the ‘burbs of Philadelphia, and you’d be hard pressed to find a bigger Phillies fan than Corey Matthews (maybe Barry on The Goldbergs—another Philly suburban-set comedy—maybe).
American Dreams (2002 – 2005)
This family drama, set in the 1960s, celebrated another Philadelphia hallmark: American Bandstand. Teen Meg Pryor (Brittany Snow) dances on the show with her best friend Roxanne (Vanessa Lengies), where the two get into trouble, fall in love, and grow up during the turbulent time in U.S. History, all through the lens of living in the City of Brotherly Love.
How to Get Away with Murder (2014 – present)
In this Shondaland drama, Queen Viola Davis plays Annalise Keating, a high-powered criminal defense attorney and professor at the prestigious “Middleton University” in Philadelphia. The school is made up, but you better believe all the murdering and monologuing takes place in Philly.
Designing Women (1986 – 1993)
Cripes, this Atlanta-based sitcom about four women running a interior design company even used “Georgia on My Mind” as its theme song—that’s how much it infused its location into its storytelling. Sugarbaker & Associates Design Firm flourished in the ATL, probably because everyone knew that you do not cross a Sugarbaker woman.
Tyler Perry’s House of Payne (2007 – 2012)
Tyler Perry sets (and films) a lot of his work in Atlanta, Georgia, including this long-running sitcom. House of Payne follows a multi-generational family living under one roof in the Atlanta suburbs. Several of its characters work for the local fire department.
Atlanta (2016 – present)
Donald Glover’s critically acclaimed comedy uses the city of Atlanta like another character on the show. The dark comedy tells the story of Earn (Glover) and his cousin Paper Boi (Brian Tyree Henry) as they try to get Paper Boi’s rap career off the ground.
Dynasty (2017 – present)
Although the original version was set in Denver, Colorado, the CW up and moved their rebooted Carrington empire to Atlanta. Don’t worry, they’re still up to all their delicious, soapy scheming.
Treme (2010 – 2013)
David Simon’s HBO drama takes place three months post-Hurricane Katrina, as residents rebuild their lives after the tragedy. It shed light on the people and culture that makes the city so unique.
The Originals (2013 – 2018)
The city of New Orleans is integral to this spinoff of the popular CW series The Vampire Diaries. The Mikaelson siblings—the first, ahem, original vampires—basically built New Orleans but were forced to flee thanks to their villianious father (dads, amirite?). The series begins when the three vampires return to reclaim their beloved city.
Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger (2018 – present)
The supernatural teen drama, uses the gothic look of New Orleans to its advantage as it follows newbie, reluctant superheroes Tandy (Olivia Holt) and Tyrone (Aubrey Joseph), taking on corruption and crime in the southern city.
Frasier (1993 – 2004)
We met Dr. Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammer) in Boston, where everybody knew his name, but when he needs a fresh start, he moves back home to Seattle. It’s there where the psychiatrist starts up his radio show and reconnects with his father and brother. And also lands an apartment with a ridiculous view of the Seattle skyline.
Grey’s Anatomy (2005 – present)
Maybe this long-running medical drama would turn people off from moving to Seattle? Terrible things happen in Seattle! But on the plus side, there’s a plethora of hot doctors. So there’s that.
Dallas (1978 – 1991)
As the old saying goes, everything’s bigger in Texas, so Dallas is the perfect location for this over-the-top primetime soap about the scheming Ewing family. Their business was oil, but they excelled at backstabbing, romantic affairs, living in luxury, and making us think that people are dead for a season only to inform us that it was all a dream. #BobbyLives
Halt and Catch Fire (2014 – 2017)
The first two seasons of this drama about the tech revolution of the 80s and early 90s takes place in the “Silicon Prairie” before moving to Silicon Valley in season three and four. The Dallas-Fort Worth tech hub is the perfect setting to tell the story of entrepreneurs and engineers trying to make history with the personal computer.