No matter how different they might be, every television show has always pushed to accomplish one thing, and that’s to transport us away from our “here and now.” However, sometimes these shows coincidentally take us no further than our own backyards. It’s always a thrill to switch on your favorite shows and catch your favorite actors walking through your city center. Read on to see which of the most popular TV shows made the cut for perfectly representing the states they’re set in.
1. New York – Seinfeld
Throughout the years, New York has been the background for many popular TV shows. Just to name a few, there was I Love Lucy, Sex And The City, Friends and All In The Family. Despite how amazing those classic shows are, none of them can hold a candle to Seinfeld. Running from 1989 to 1998, Seinfeld follows the lives of four friends living in Manhattan, New York.
Across nine seasons, we are introduced to an array of quirky characters and situations that really define just how topsy-turvy life can be whilst living in the Big Apple. With a writing duo like Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David, it shouldn’t shock anybody that this is the quintessential New York show.
2. North Carolina – The Andy Griffith Show
Today, the entertainment industry is centered predominantly in big cities. That said, there was a point in time when most popular TV shows were set in rural America. The Andy Griffith Show, which ran from 1960 to 1968, was by far the most acclaimed and one of the few shows from that time still being played across cable television. The show was in set Mayberry, North Carolina and followed the slow work days of two small town cops Andy and Barney.
During its run time, the show introduced the world to an array of characters that would be cemented into pop culture forever. Among the most popular were Gomer Pyle, Aunt Bee, and Barney Fife, who was famously portrayed by Don Knotts. The Andy Griffith Show also served as the debut show for Ron Howard, who would go on to have an amazing acting and directing career. The show even gave way to spin-offs like Mayberry R.F.D. and Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.
3. Wisconsin – Happy Days
Wisconsin is known for two things and two things only: its famous cows and for being the backdrop for the the popular TV show Happy Days. The show’s focus on teenage life and its 1950s setting was a combination that rocked the 1970s masses. Not only did it appeal to the young crowd of the time, but it also took parents back to their own youths.
While the show “starred” Ron Howard as Richie Cunningham, the real center of attention was Fonzie. Everyone’s favorite greaser started off as a minor character in the first couple of seasons. Sometimes he wouldn’t even get five minutes of TV time. However, he would ultimately end up being the star of the show in the later seasons. Happy Days is also responsible for coining the phrase, “Jumping the shark,” which it literally did in 1977.
4. Mississippi – In The Heat Of The Night
After Hollywood’s “rural purge” in the early 1970s, one didn’t see many shows taking place in the southern United States anymore. That all changed when In The Heat Of The Night debuted in 1988. The show took us into small-town Mississippi and followed the unlikely police duo of Bill Gillespie and Virgil Tibbs.
The series was based off a successful 1967 movie of the same name and it pretty much shared the same theme. The movie and the show’s main angle centers around Virgil Tibbs, a black police officer from Philadelphia who finds himself working a case in the rural south. He’s met with some questionable behavior but ultimately ends up winning over the police station and the town’s people.
5. Michigan – Home Improvement
Michigan can probably only be represented by one popular TV show and that is Home Improvement. Not only was the sitcom set in Detroit, but the show’s main character Tim Taylor would represent Michigan on almost every single episode via a shirt or sweater. We’re not talking Motown or Ford shirts either. Tim hit America, right in the education system.
Despite being born in Colorado, he widely considered his home state to be Michigan and would represent it by often wearing a different Michigan university or college sweatshirt on each episode. Schools would send in their shirts and sweaters by the dozens and as a sign of loyalty, the tool man would give them some free advertising.
6. Texas – Walker, Texas Ranger
Everything is bigger in Texas and this includes the popular TV shows set in Texas. While shows like Friday Night Lights and Dallas are easy contenders for the best shows in the state, the giant among them is Walker, Texas Ranger. With Chuck Norris in the lead, it had to be the state’s representative. Who else is bigger, tougher, and more Texas than Chuck Norris? Sure, he was born in Oklahoma, but the man has resided in Navasota, Texas for years.
Seeing as the show was inspired by his 1983 film Lone Wolf McQuade, the role of Walker was made with Chuck Norris in mind. This in turn meant that one of the standout trademarks of the show was his personal moral standard. They would sway away from edgy topics and in typical ’90s fashion, Walker and his team would usually take out crooks with martial arts instead of weapons.
7. Connecticut – Gilmore Girls
When it comes to Connecticut’s most popular TV show, it has to be Gilmore Girls. The 2000’s sitcom pretty much crammed a world of drama into any townie’s small town paradise, Stars Hollow. With wacky town meetings, small mom, pop shops, and buskers galore, this show paints a New England that nobody saw coming.
Much of the show’s greatness can be attributed to Lorelai and Rory Gilmore. However, one can’t take anything away from the quick witted and quirky characters that back them up. It was the strong cast that lit a fire under the show that saw it tear successfully through seven seasons. However, Gilmore Girls left fans wanting more and the creators would eventually deliver. Nine years later, the series was rebooted for another season, which consisted of four episodes.
8. Florida – The Golden Girls
If there was ever going to be a popular TV show about four elderly women basking in their retirement, it was going to take place in Florida. When the Sunshine State comes to mind, people are thinking three things. They are thinking beach parties, amusement parks, and the thousands of elderly folks who flock there each year for their retirement.
When Susan Harris created The Golden Girls in 1984, she knew that Florida was the perfect location for her show. No other location in the world would provide a better outlet for the main characters’ elderly antics. The mix of comedy and drama really shows us that life doesn’t have to stop happening once you’ve reached a certain age.
9. Kansas – Smallville
Even if you detest superheroes, you’ll likely know a few things about the man of steel. Throughout the years, he’s been the center of a ton of films, comics, and television shows. One of the most basic Superman facts is that he grew up on a small farm in Kansas. However, this has only been briefly touched upon since his creation. When Smallville came along, Clark Kent’s youth was finally brought to light.
The show chronicles a young Clark Kent’s rise from a high school football star in Kansas to his first days as Superman. Throughout the show’s ten season run, we don’t only get to see the origins of Clark, but also that of classic characters like Lex Luthor, Lois Lane, and the beloved Jimmy Olson.
10. Illinois – Married… With Children
Beyond the opening credits, Married… With Children doesn’t really sport a whole lot of the Chicago, Illinois landscape. However, given that it was one of the most popular TV shows of the 1980s and 1990s, it definitely stands as the most beloved series in the state.
The show is still being talked about and referenced today for how it isn’t like every other show from its period. Married… With Children and in particularly, the lead character Al Bundy, pushed comedic boundaries that most shows wouldn’t even touch these days. Running from 1987 to 1997, the show seemed to get better with age and ended right as it was at its peak.
11. West Virginia – Hawkins
While Hawkins only aired for a single season in the early 1970s, it made a huge impact. With a Hollywood legend like Jimmy Stewart portraying the lead character, it was an ace in the hole from the get-go. The show follows the court cases of a West Virginian lawyer named Billy Jim Hawkins.
Upon its television debut episode, Hawkins was a smash hit with both critics and viewers, bagging a Golden Globe award. Despite its success, Jimmy Stewart requested that the series be cancelled. In the hopes of maintaining the show’s high quality, Stewart believed that it wouldn’t be able to continue over a span of several seasons with the same high caliber.
12. Massachusetts – Cheers
When folks would tune into Cheers, they couldn’t help but feel that sleek Massachusetts atmosphere take over their living space. Each episode comes with all the attitude and edginess that you’d find in a downtown Boston bar back in the 1980s. In his breakthrough role, Ted Danson portrayed the show’s leading man Sam Malone.
Life is all but interesting for the Red Sox pitcher turned bar owner…that is until he meets Diane Chambers, a Boston University graduate. In the first episode she is abandoned by her fiancé and forced to take up work as a waitress at Cheers. From that point on, we’re treated to a tumultuous love story between Sam and Diane. Cheers was a massive success during its eleven-year run. It even spawned Frasier, which has to be one of the most successful spin-offs to date.
13. Minnesota – Little House On The Prairie
Every weekday night in the 1970s, people from around the nation would tune into Little House On The Prairie to be transported back to Walnut Grove, Minnesota in the 1800s. While the name of the series led many to believe that it’s about a quaint family living a quiet life on the prairie, the show’s plot is actually quite intense.
The 1800s was a rough time in American history and Little House On The Prairie didn’t shy away from exploring these themes. Through nine seasons and four television movies, the Ingalls family takes their audience on an emotional roller coaster ride consisting of love and loss. In light of this, it shouldn’t come as a shock how the show garnered such a massive following.
14. Washington – Twin Peaks
When tuning into a show like Twin Peaks, you’ll find Washington is painted as a place that seems dark and brooding, yet full of quirky characters. In reality, the state really is kind of off-beat and mysterious, yet far from how it appears on David Lynch’s 1990 creation.
The show follows Special Agent Dale Cooper as he investigates a homicide case surrounding a high school student named Laura Palmer. While the show started off like any normal police drama, it quickly took a number of bizarre twists and turns that really landed it in a league of its own. It’s no wonder that the show is still heavily discussed almost thirty years after its release. David Lynch even brought the show back for an acclaimed third season in 2017.
15. Utah – Touched By An Angel
When reminiscing about the 1990s, almost everyone can remember flipping through the channels and landing on Touched By An Angel. The show’s protagonists are Monica and Tess, two angels sent to guide people who had found themselves at a crossroads in their lives. While the angels are successful at leading people down the righteous path most of the time, some episodes take a different turn.
Most of the series is set in and around Salt Lake City, Utah, which is where the show was produced. Anyone familiar with the state will be able to easily spot some of the city’s monuments in the background of each episode. After running for nine seasons between 1994 and 2003, the show went into syndication on various television networks and is still being shown today.
16. Nevada – Bonanza
The most quintessential part of the 1950s is probably the western films, based on their popularity at the time. However, when television caught onto the masses during that same decade, a number of production companies jumped on the idea of western TV shows. The most famous of the westerns was Bonanza, which aired across generations from 1959 to 1973.
Set in Virginia City, Nevada, people would tune in week after week for over a decade to follow the lives of the Cartwright family. Ultimately the show would fall under the 1970s “rural purge,” a series of cancellations by various networks to rid television of rural themed shows.
17. Ohio – The Drew Carey Show
All one has to do is listen to The Drew Carey Show’s theme song to get that the show is set in Ohio and pretty darn proud of it, too. The song repeatedly shouts out, “Cleveland rocks” and even tops things off by giving the entire state of Ohio a shout-out at the end. Not only did the show make Ohio seem like a place worth visiting, but it also launched Drew Carey into super stardom.
Before the The Drew Carey Show launched, Drew was merely a stand up comedian. Things changed super fast for him once he had his own series. Only a couple years into starring on the show, he was granted a second show called Whose Line Is It Anyway? Having two widely popular shows on at the same time definitely made him an icon of the era.
18. Pennsylvania – All My Children
Numerous popular TV shows are set in Pennsylvania. Among the best are Boy Meets World and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. However, none of these shows have been on air as long as America’s favorite soap opera All My Children. You won’t see any subway rides or panoramic shots of the Philly skyline on this show.
Throughout its 40-year run, All My Children has shown a more subtle and romantic side of Pennsylvania. That said, none of the drama was spared as we saw it all through the eyes of Erica Kane. She managed to be the leading star throughout the show’s entire 1970 to 2011 run.
19. New Jersey – The Sopranos
If you combine The Sopranos and Jersey Shore, you pretty much have a complete picture of New Jersey. While both shows are still massively popular and either can be the state representative, The Sopranos has to take the cake as the best. From 1999 to 2007, the show won a ton of awards and is still deemed as one of the greatest shows of all time.
Despite the lead character Tony Soprano being a somewhat ruthless mob boss, the world fell in love with him. In many ways, the masses could even relate to Tony. With urgency, fans would tune into the series every week just to see where the writers would take him next. One of the show’s finest points was the controversial ending that is still being discussed and debated between fans.
20. Iowa – American Pickers
When it comes to shows set in Iowa, there are few and far between. However, one show set in the Hawkeye State is a big one and that is American Pickers. Mike Wolfe, the star and mind behind the show has managed to take a hobby of his and turn it into one of the most successful reality shows on TV.
Millions tune in week after week to see Mike, Frank Fritz, and Danielle Colby travel around America and hunt for hidden treasures at yard sales and other such places. Some of the items they find are absolutely astounding. Most of the time, their finds are pure nostalgia and take the viewer back to a time long gone by.
21. Colorado – Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman
No show has been able to capture Colorado’s west like the Emmy nominated Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. The 1990s hit is about a Boston based doctor named Michaela Quinn. After a personal tragedy she decides to leave the east coast and head for Colorado.
While the state is hardly at the forefront of everyone’s mind when thinking about cowboys and bandits, the show does a great job of delving into that forgotten chapter in Colorado’s history. Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman holds nothing back when detailing how hard and hopeless practicing medicine was back in those days, especially in that particular part of the country. It also follows Dr. Quinn’s rough adjustment to her new life.
22. Hawaii – Hawaii Five-O
Over the years there have been a couple of amazing shows set in Hawaii. Who on earth can forget Magnum, P.I. and those Saved By The Bell Hawaiian specials? However, no matter how great those popular TV shows were, the quintessential Hawaii-based show has got to be Hawaii Five-O. It even has the name of the state in its title, and that definitely goes a long way.
The show ran from 1968 to 1980 with Steve McGarrett portraying Jack Lord throughout the whole 12-year run. While modern audiences may view it as just another 1970s cop drama, Hawaii Five-O is nothing short of genius. The show saw many eras and generations in its lifetime, and yet it still managed to keep a firm grip on its audience during its run. That kind of loyal viewership doesn’t happen by accident.
23. New Mexico – Breaking Bad
Beautiful cities like Albuquerque and Santa Fe aside, New Mexico has always been known for the kind of toughness that can only be concocted in a barren desert land. It’s a reputation that the state first garnered back in the western days. Having said that, if any television series captures how gritty yet amazing New Mexico is, it’s definitely Breaking Bad.
Breaking Bad took Bryan Cranston out of the typecast dad role he got from Malcolm In The Middle and turned him into Walter White. In the beginning, Walter would appear as nothing more than a passive math teacher. However, a cancer diagnosis would see him become one of the most ruthless players in Albuquerque’s underground crime scene. It goes without saying that the show was a massive hit and took Cranston’s career to new heights. Furthermore, it also revamped tourists interest in New Mexico.
24. California – Beverly Hills, 90210
With convertibles, beaches, and a weather report of sunshine across the entire year, Beverly Hills, 90210 pretty much was California in the 1990s. When the show debuted in 1990, it followed a group of high school friends living in Beverly Hills, California. However, this show was no instant classic. During the first couple of seasons, the show didn’t differ much from other teen shows of the time. The main characters faced all the same dramatic situations that came with every other teen show.
Overtime, things evolved within the show. This evolution of the characters completely set the show apart from others and made it iconic. We see Dylan, Steve, and the rest of the gang go from innocent teens to college kids. During the last season, we even see them leap into adulthood. Audiences got to see their favorite characters getting married, getting pregnant, and even making some cutting-edge career decisions.
25. Tennessee – Nashville
Having homed a number of country music legends, Nashville has garnered the title of Music City. For years, singers from all over the southern United States have flocked to Nashville, Tennessee in the hopes of being the next big hit on the country music charts. ABC’s Nashville couldn’t have captured the city’s music scene anymore perfectly.
With brilliantly written characters like Rayna Jaymes and Juliette Barnes, the show provides the perfect look at how competitive and fast-paced the country music scene can be. However, it isn’t all characters and story lines that make this show great. Nashville comes with an original soundtrack performed by all the actors on the show. Within the space of six seasons, Nashville has established itself as a modern day classic.
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