There are some shows and movies that you watch and all you can think is, “I’m so glad I’m not there” or “It would be so awkward to be them” or simply “AHHHH!” For example, Meet the Parents is a world filled with embarrassing situation upon embarrassing situation. “30 Rock” is a strange world of conundrums and absurdity, where you never know what’s going happen next– in a scary, unpredictable way. Cabin in the Woods presents a world where, well, you’re probably just screwed.
Fortunately, there are TV shows and Movies that create worlds and places that calm you or entice you or make you feel at home. They are a little sign of hope, fellowship, belonging. Why do we watch certain shows or movies over and over again? We get to know the characters better than people in our lives, and they become familiar old friends who we know and who know us in a strange yet pleasant way. Here are a few of such places:
1. Stars Hollow- “Gilmore Girls”
Yes, there are some strange characters and absurd situations here. Taylor Dosey is a good enough reason to steer clear of this little New England town. However, there are such sweet relationships and such deep fellowship between the townspeople, you can’t help but desire to be a part of this small town community. Who wouldn’t want to watch vintage films at Black, White, and Read Bookshop? Or stay at the The Independence or The Dragonfly Inn? Or get booted out of Luke’s Diner for chatting on your cell phone? Or get any number of dishes from Al’s Pancake World? I’ve always wanted to be part of a small town community, perhaps because of moving every couple of years in childhood. The idea of rootedness and belonging are just so appealing, and if I could keep up with Lorilei and Rory Gilmore’s speed of talking, I would totally move to Stars Hollow.
2. Spectre- Big Fish
The entire world of Big Fish is like some magical world where anything is possible– at least from the viewpoint of the main character Edward Bloom. Anywhere he goes seems to be charged with mystery and beauty. However, there is one place that I’d truly love to visit in the story– the town of Spectre. Once again, it’s a small town, and it’s rather unrealistic. You can be the town poet and barely make decent rhymes at all. You walk around barefoot because “Main Street” is a luscious strip of grass. Their celebrations are full of dancing and music and radiant light. Everyone seems to be overly giddy and joyful, which slightly turns off Edward, but in the end he leaves not because he doesn’t love the town, but because he’s not done traveling the world and isn’t ready to settle down. Spectre loses itself as time goes by, but if I could have been there in its glory days, I’d be happy to be happy with all of those dancing fools.
3. Parks and Recreation Department, Pawnee, IN- “Parks and Recreation”
Now, the town of Pawnee itself is a strange, strange, strange world. I recently bought my sister Pawnee: The Greatest Town in America by :Leslie Knope” (though I did read almost all of it over Christmas Break). The more I read, the more I realized I did NOT want to live in Pawnee. It’s really messed up. But any time I watch the TV show, I can’t help but want to be part of the little family in the P & D Department. Yes, they hate on Jerry too much. Yes, Tom is kinda annoying. Yes, April can get on your nerves. Still with all their annoying habits and flaws, they are close in a way that some families never are. If only they could get that park constructed…
4. Rivendell, Eriador, Middle Earth– The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit
While each of the above locations are desirable for their simple hometown qualities, Rivendell can be loved for its mysterious and majestic nature. It seems like Heaven on earth. When Frodo wakes up or Bilbo and the dwarves arrive, the very sight of the town is like a word of good news, medicine of the eyes. I mean, look at this place!
5. The Burns Family Home- Dan In Real Life
I loved this movie, although I expected more screwball and less thoughtful and sweet. I have to say, I hope that my family can be like the family in this movie some day, that I can lead a clan of close, game-playing, dramatic and singing, fun-having (though hopefully not cheating) family members. Also, the house and grounds are just splendid.
6. Swiss Family Robinson Tree House- Swiss Family Robinson
Do I really need to explain? Come on! (And no, the Disney Resort versions are not the same.)
7. Narnia – The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe (the glory days)
It’s just a dream land. A place of thick forests and neverending fields, of fantastical creatures and constant adventure. A place where you know your place and you know your worth. A place where a child can be a queen, a tree can come alive, and a lion’s roar brings warmth to the heart.
8. Shangri-La – Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow and “Rupert”
I first was introduced to this world by the children’s TV show Rupert, or at least I have the memory of some Asian city hidden in the mountains. Though I’ve done quite a bit of searching, I can’t find the episode– and its possible I just combined a bunch of different elements into one story, but I’ll keep looking. Meanwhile in Sky Captain and The World of Tomorrow, they visit the legendary city and the visuals truly do justice to the place. Something like Rivendell, just a magical and elegant place to be. Its legend existed long before the poor Ewan McGregor movie, and its ethos inspired the Lord of the Rings film-makers, as they saw many similarities between Rivendell and Shangri La.
9. Third Street School Playground- “Recess”
I watched this show quite a lot as a kid, and I loved the school yard, because it provided almost unlimited space for the kids to have adventure after adventure. I was fortunate, for my schools in England and Norway had outstanding school yards with slides and forests and playhouses and giant slides. Even so, my schools couldn’t compare with the amazing sites at 3rd Street School– Old Rusty (and New Rusty), the Ashley’s hideout, the Diggers tunnels, the Kindergartners area, the deep never-ending woods, even the cheese box looked cool!
10. Papen County and Coeur d’Coeurs- “Pushing Daisies”
Really, the entire world of Pushing Daisies seems like a fairy tale. The characters are larger than life. The architecture and decor are bright and bold. The story-lines are unbelievable and the pie is delicious. Yes, to live there is to live in constant fear that Ned might bring someone to life for too long and cause your untimely death, but look at that pie!
11. The Wilderness- Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron
I freaking love that horse movie. Not for the horses, mind you, but for those sweeping landscapes, the beautiful freedom of the animals before civilization squashed it, for the untamed wilderness of America. It’s one of those times where you root against humanity. Like Bambi and… uh… Avatar?
Honorable Mention: The Island- “Lost”
Yeah, I love Lost. But I have to be honest, as much as mysterious stations, hippie scientist compounds, light waterfalls, ancient statues and lighthouses, and freaky animals sound awesome, I just don’t think I’d enjoy the Smoke Monster, angry polar bears, scary time jumps, and bad ret-con story-lines. Then again, if you’re gonna smell the rose, you’ve got to endure the thorns. So…
12. The Island– “Lost”