In my review of Saving Grace, I challenged Tuned In reader and Oklahoma City resident Keith to rate how well the show portrays his hometown. He came through:
Did they get Oklahoma City right? Not for me. Other than a very limited number of exterior shots such as the memorial site, the show is filmed in Los Angeles. I guess the fact that I’ve lived in OKC for 50 years worked against me for this show. For someone from New York, I’m sure it was a fairly accurate portrayal of what they think of Oklahoma. For me, the scenery looked nothing like what I see every day.
The look and feel was gritty. To be sure, there are “gritty” areas of OKC. I drive past the police station on a regular basis. It is a neat, clean, modern facility. I know a number of policemen including a homocide detective. The police and their surroundings in the show don’t look like anything I know. But that is true with any show and the dramatic liscense needed to make a show interesting isn’t it?
Some of the characters were a little too stereotypical. The ponytailed Native American detective and the rich cattleman were a little too much. But you have to remember that dramatic liscense thing again. How do you know you are in Oklahoma unless you have an Indian or a guy in a cowboy hat? Oh yeah, and cattle.
Another interesting thing to me was her brother being a Catholic priest. This is an odd choice for Oklahoma. There are 18 small Catholic churches and 2 Catholic high schools in OKC and over 500 Baptist Churches. Factor in all the other Protestant Evangelical Christian churchs in the city and Catholics look like an endangered species. If you are going to go with stereotypical, Grace’s brother should have been a Baptist.
I have once had the experience of seeing a place where I lived fictionalized on TV. (Not counting New York City; we all know TV apartment sizes in NYC magically mushroomed between Welcome Back Kotter and Friends.) I grew up in southeast Michigan, where Freaks and Geeks was set, and I was amazed at how much they got right. Not just the physical details (like the supermarket chain Farmer Jack), but the culture–such as the fact that, as behind the times as the area was, the musical references in a show set in 1980 would mostly be from the ’70s. (There were a lot of Led Zeppelin T-shirts at my high school in the mid-’80s.) And they captured the flattened-out landscape as well as they reasonably could, considering they shot in L.A.
But most people aren’t lucky enough to have Paul Feig and Judd Apatow render their hometowns (actually, I believe the F&G town was based on Mt. Clemens). So I’m wondering: If the place where you live was ever the setting of a TV show, did TV get it right?
Any Utahans care to weigh in on Big Love? Suburban Texans willing to fact-check King of the Hill? Kansans: I’ve never been to your fair state, but Jericho looks a lot more like the San Fernando Valley to me–what say? And P_luk, how’s the verisimilitude on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia? (Is it always sunny there?)
Meanwhile, you Springfieldians out there can continue to fight over which one of your towns The Simpsons is set in.