Thursday, October 14, 2010

Rust Belt Chic Television

More television shows are locating their sets in unexpected locations. The implied cultural shift is from cosmopolitan fantasy to parochial authenticity. The visual landscape is Rust Belt Chic:

[Little-used locales] can also bring the funny, as in Greg Garcia's redneck version of Any Town, U.S.A., made famous in his NBC sitcom, "My Name Is Earl." His new Fox series, "Raising Hope," has a similar scruffy feel, populated by tough-talking, blue-collar characters.

"A show like ' Entourage' is lifestyle porn, and I understand why people get into that world," Garcia said of the Hollywood-centric HBO comedy. "But I like places that feel more real to me. I like quirky."

He wrote the "Raising Hope" pilot while he was in western Michigan and envisioned those small towns as the setting for the story of a young father and his family who unexpectedly find themselves rearing an infant. He doesn't name "Raising Hope's" hometown, but viewers will surely understand that it's not an urban, sophisticated backdrop.

"Real" and "quirky" are attributes Anthony Bourdain admires in a foodie geography. I see shrinking city urbanism everywhere I look. Ironically, Cleveland is in and Miami is out.

Yesterday's "Cool Cities" are today's clichés. The urban amenities we want are not what Richard Florida is still selling. Yet almost every industrial metro has yet to figure this out.

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