The living room on The Simpsons, Cheers the bar, Baltimore on The Wire. Settings are important on any television show. In this edition of the Email Roundtable we attempt to discuss different kinds of television settings. And because I think this is awfully cool and somewhat relevant there’s this.
What is the television setting you find the most comforting/would like to live in?:
Kerri: This one was actually the most difficult for me to figure out. I decided to think about the shows that I find most comforting and work from there. My comfort show is always Freaks and Geeks and I thought about talking about the Weir’s house which is sort of cave-like, with earth-tones and looks a lot like the childhood home that I and a lot of my friends grew up in.
But when I thought about it more, the television setting that I truly find the most comforting is Dillon, Texas in Friday Night Lights. There is just something about the lighting, the music, the dusty dreamy-ness of it all that appeals to me. The thing that I find most comforting about Dillon is that I feel like I know its ins and outs and, as they say, to know something is to love it. There are few shows where the town is as much of an entity in and of itself as the characters are. Only Springfield and, maybe, Pawnee, Indiana come close. The Applebee’s, the Alamo Freeze, the Taylor’s house, the house where Matt Seracen lives with his Grandma – all in different states of disrepair and lived-in-ness. And like any town it is complicated by politics and race and class. It puts far too much stress on a game played by children. All the teenagers living in Dillon desperately want to move on to bigger and better things but I can’t imagine how it gets any better than this. Like everything I love fully, it is beautiful and complicated and messy and simple all at once. I’d love to live there and be given a stern talking to by Coach Taylor about how I’m not living up to my potential.
Jane: Troy and Abed’s apartment on Community. It may be tacky, but I’m a sucker for wood paneling. It immediately recalls my cozy childhood basement. Apartment 303, is decked out from floor to ceiling with the stuff and also boasts a sweet blanket-fort-bedroom and Dreamatorium. Other amenities include a vending machine in the kitchen and a bowl of olives on the back of the toilet (for fancy parties). It’s a space that begs to be enjoyed in your jammies.
Katie: Carrie’s apartment from Sex and the City. It’s small and clean and located in a pretty little neighbourhood in New York City. I’d recycle all the Vogues, then upgrade the kitchen to usable status but I’d keep a lot of the furniture (especially Aidan’s leather man chair). Having a small, comfortable oasis to call your own in the middle of a huge city appeals to me.
What is the television setting that you find the scariest?:
Kerri: The setting I find scariest on any television show ever (maybe in anything ever-ever) is the living room from Twin Peaks. At any point Bob (I was thinking of adding a video or gif here but I actually got too scared to proceed – feel free to look him up yourself, but don’t say I did warn you) without warning, could climb over a couch or be seen in a mirror. It looked like a regular old living room in most ways but it was far from it. Really, any setting on Twin Peaks could work but this one was the most unsettling to me, especially as a child. There’s nothing scarier to me than what you can’t see behind doors and furniture which is, I think, why I’m still scared of basements.
Jane: The Hill on Justified. It can only be found by walking on foot through the woods populated with owls, crickets and other critters that make spooky noises. The hill is occupied by a family rumoured to be cannibals, who greet strangers by throwing a bag over their head and dragging them further through the creepy forest before tossing them into a shack that I imagine (when it isn’t hosting guests) is used to de-feather chickens. The shack is lit by the light that shines through the bullet holes in the walls. Outside the shack are hundreds of animal carcases in various stages of cleaning. The Hill makes for a terrifying setting because you are blind to what is coming your way next. You are most likely going to die, you just don’t know how or when.
Katie: I have two, with two very different reasons.
1.) Michael’s row house on The Wire. You just know terrible things have happened in that house.
2.) Downton Abbey. It would be dark and dirty (and likely rodent-infested.) Around every corner is a mirror to freak you out. Even with all that staff, there is no way they could maintain that mansion. Yeah, it looks good on TV but when you think about the reality of the place… *shudder*
What is the television setting that you think least matches its inhabitants?:
Jane: Don Draper and Megan’s Apartment on Mad Men: It seems like this would be the perfect place for Don to reinvent himself as it is a complete departure from the dark tones and shadowy corners of the old Draper home. However, this modern (for its time) spic and span, bright Manhattan apartment does not seem like the natural habitat of Don Draper. Its open concept and floor to ceiling windows leave no place for Don to hide anything. It’s also a space where anything that is out-of-place is immediately apparent. He never seems at ease in this space (which I’m not complaining about). It serves as a constant reminder to keep his marriage spic, span and tidy. Any mess will be detected immediately.
Katie: I, too, was going to mention Don and Megan Draper’s apartment. I think it suits Megan, but not Don (for the same reasons that Jane mentioned.)
Kerri: Monica and Rachel’s apartment on Friends. Rent controlled or not, there is no way they could have afforded a place like that in Manhattan. It wouldn’t have worked if they lived in squalor, but really…It would make much more sense if the place looked a bit more like Hannah’s apartment from Girls and, you know, been in Brooklyn.
Image by Moyan_Brenn