5 Sitcoms That Don’t Know Jack About Where They’re Set
Some of the best sitcoms in TV history have distinctly memorable settings. Cheers took place in Boston, Seinfeld was synonymous with New York City and the events of Two and a Half Men all clearly transpired inside the seventh circle of the fiery realm of eternal damnation.
But sometimes, even the best comedies missed the mark when it came to representing their respective locales. Sure, people don’t tune into sitcoms for an accurate portrayal of reality — hence the reason why Steve Urkel inexplicably survived nine years of creeping on his armed neighbor’s daughter — but some shows could have tried a little harder to make us forget that they never actually ventured outside of a soundstage in Los Angeles, such as how…
‘Frasier’s Fancy Coffee Shop Was in Seattle’s Sketchiest Neighborhood
The biggest thing to happen to Seattle since grunge music and power-hungry coffee empires, Frasier Crane moved to the Emerald City following the events of Cheers (purely because the producers’ first choice, Colorado, was branded the “hate state” by the public after passing anti-LGBTQ+ legislation). Frasier, however, made a number of odd choices when it came to representing Seattle, from Dr. Crane’s condo’s geographic impossibility to the glaring lack of rain. But perhaps the most hard-to-swallow element of the show is the location of Frasier and Niles’ favorite hangout, the hoity-toity coffee shop Café Nervosa.
The show specifically references the fact that the café is at the intersection of Third Avenue and Pike Street. This is an odd spot for an upscale business catering to Seattle’s espresso-swilling elite, seeing as it’s considered a “crime hotspot” and an “open-air drug market.”
Although to be fair to the show, we never saw much of the outside of the building, so it’s entirely possible that Frasier and Niles were constantly walking past muggings and tip-toeing over used needles while en route to pick up their non-fat lattes. No word on whether or not there were any grisly murders at Le Cigare Volant.
‘Roseanne’: The Real Lanford Is Now a ‘Majority Hispanic City’
Roseanne, the long-gestating prequel to The Conners, is, of course, set in the fictional town of Lanford, Illinois. But while Lanford is as real as Gotham City, it was reportedly “loosely based” on an actual place: Elgin, Illinois.
Even though the producers of Roseanne held a focus group in Elgin before making the show’s 10th season, people who live in the town have reportedly found their fictional counterparts to be highly inaccurate. According to one resident, Roseanne “doesn’t get Elgin right when it comes to diversity. How many Latinos do you see on that show?”
Yeah, while TV’s Lanford still seems to be very conservative and white, like it was during the original run of Roseanne, Elgin is now “a majority Hispanic city” that “went Democratic in the last three presidential elections.” Also, Roseanne implied that the town was so distant from the bustling urban metropolis of Chicago that “one of Roseanne’s granddaughters couldn’t afford to buy a bus ticket to the big city.” But Elgin is only about an hour away from the Windy City. Of course, all this would soon prove to be the least significant of Roseanne Barr’s missteps.
Sorry ‘The Office’ Fans, There’s No Chili’s in Scranton
One of the most memorable geographic landmarks in The Office’s version of Scranton, Pennsylvania is the local Chili’s restaurant; it’s where Michael Scott hosts the Dundies and wins over clients — not to mention where Pam is forcibly ejected after getting completely hammered.
But when you head to Chili’s official website and look up the Scranton location, you get this disheartening message:
Yup, NBC lied to us: There is no Chili’s in Scranton. Apparently, the closest location is, in reality, over in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. This is clearly the least accurate part of the show’s depiction of Scranton, apart from the disquietingly sweltering winter weather.
‘Community’: Greendale, Colorado Has Palm Trees, But No Mountains
Community is famously set in the town of Greendale, which is apparently in… Colorado? Really? Yeah, all the license plates and postal codes indicate that the show is set near Denver, Colorado — even though there are no mountains visible anywhere. There are plenty of palm trees, though…
Winter doesn’t seem to exist in this version of Colorado. Obviously, the show is filmed in California, but the creators purposefully kept the Community’s setting somewhat ill-defined. According to Dan Harmon, he wanted the location to be “vague,” not unlike how we’re never totally sure where The Simpsons’ Springfield is situated: “Where is Greendale? It’s down the street from your house. Why put it anywhere more specific?”
‘Full House’s San Francisco Had Zero LGBTQ+ Characters
Full House isn’t exactly known for its realism, as evidenced by the time Uncle Jesse bafflingly moved his family of four into a tiny attic and also every single instance when someone laughs at one of Joey’s “jokes.” With the exception of the opening credits’ shots of the Golden Gate Bridge and the subtle suggestions that Danny Tanner was the Zodiac killer (maybe that was just us), Full House was also a pretty terrible representation of life in San Francisco.
Why? Well, despite the fact that San Francisco boasts the highest percentage of LGBTQ+ residents of any metropolitan area in the country, and the city is considered to be one of the “most celebrated epicenters of queer culture in the U.S.,” there was absolutely no LGBTQ+ representation of the original series.
Granted, this isn’t all that surprising for a show with a member of the Cameron family on the call sheet, but the recent Fuller House reboot made efforts to rectify this problem. According to Nicholas Fascitelli, one of Fuller House’s two gay writers, after original creator Jeff Franklin was “#MeToo’d at the end of Season Three,” the new showrunners sought to “refocus the Fuller House as one of inclusion and tolerance.”
The writers’ room was “very conscious” that the show was set in San Francisco and the characters hadn’t yet engaged with “the gay community in a meaningful way.” So they introduced the character of Casey, a gay teenager who befriends Kimmy’s daughter. Also, Stephanie randomly mentions in an episode that she used to date a woman.
Although that revelation turned out to be an improvisation, presumably part of an effort to make Candace Cameron Bure’s head explode like a homophobic water balloon.
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