As we all enjoy watching Parv, Gonzo and Nick travel around the USA in the new SBS2 series Unplanned America (screening every Monday night at 9.30pm), we reflect on ten TV series that will help give you your own tour of the varied and wild landscape that the USA presents to us travellers. We start off with one of the newest shows to enter this grand map of the States…
Where? Bemidji, Minnesota
The FX produced series, which is currently screening in Australia on SBS, is a ten episode created and written by Noah Hawley. You may be familiar with the title from the 1996 Coen Brothers movie of the same name, and with the brothers serving as Executive Producers here, we are seeing something of a continuation of the original feature.
The series, like the film before it, is not set in Fargo, North Dakota, but rather Bemidji, Minnesota, a typical American small town, known for its statues of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox. Unlike the rest of the shows on this list, there is not much to mention about the towns they are set in… which is what makes this show, as well as the original film so compelling. It’s madness in a world where not much else is going on. Though set in Minnesota, the series is actually filmed in Alberta, Canada – but we’ll let them pass on this one. Small town charm is small town charm!
Other series filmed and/or set in Minnesota: Little House on the Prairie, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Coach, The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show
Entourage (2004 – 2011)
Where? Hollywood / Los Angeles, California
There have been hundreds of TV series set in LA and Hollywood over the years – and certainly filmed there at the very least – but few encapsulate the modern Hollywood than Entourage, HBO’s long running series about a rising star in the City of Angels, and his group of friends… ahem, his Entourage. From the beaches of Malibu to the Hills of Hollywood and the nightlife that lives on the streets below, Entourage serves as a great way to see some of the city’s most well known spots.
Other series filmed and/or set in Hollywood and Los Angeles: 24, 90210, The A-Team, Arrested Development, The Bold and the Beautiful, Brothers and Sisters, Curb your Enthusiasm, Diagnosis: Murder, NCIS: Los Angeles… the list literally goes on and on and on…
Boston Legal (2004 – 2008)
Where? Boston, Massachusetts
Even though this series – which premiered a decade ago!? are you serious!? – was filmed in LA, like so many other series of by David E Kelley, the cutscenes of Boston are more than enough to give you a taste of the city in question. The big buildings towering over the Charles River, the charm of a small town in a big city, with Universities all over… it’s a beautiful city and this is a fantastic series!
Other series filmed and/or set in Boston: 21 Beacon Street, Ally McBeal, Fringe, Cheers, Two Guys and a Girl, Boston Public, American Horror Story: Murder House, St Elsewhere, The Practice.
Portlandia (2011 – Now)
Where? Portland, Oregon
Tackling the hipster crisis in Portland head on, this comedy sketch series starring Fred Armisen (SNL) and Carrie Brownstein is one of the funniest series around right now. But more importantly for this article – as it’s filmed in Portland, it serves as a great way to get a glimpse of the city… albeit through drug-laced glassed.
Other series filmed and/or set in Portland: Sons and Daughters, Saved, Legit, Leverage, Ghost Story (1972), Grimm, Under Suspicion
Magnum P.I. (1980 – 1988)
Where? Oahu, Hawaii
As much as Tom Selleck’s mustache was the focus of the classic series Magnum P.I., so was the city he was based in. He made the Hawaiian shirt cool again (well, I can only assume) and showed off the Oahu’s beautiful landscape… beaches, mountains and everything in between… as he investigated his cases and drove around in that iconic Red Ferrari.
Other series filmed and/or set in Hawaii: Hawaii Five-O, Charlie’s Angels, Lilo & Stitch: The Series, Hawaii, Lost (Well, sort of…)
This brings to an end the first five TV series that take us on a journey around the USA… for more USA adventures, tune into Unplanned America, every Monday night on SBS2 at 9.30pm. For more details about the show, head to the official website.