CHS students explain the impact of TV shows set in the Midwest versus urban settings


For better or worse, Indiana is not New York or California. Life in Indiana lacks the glamour and urban feel of common TV show settings such as Chicago. Yet successful shows seem to be emerging from dreary Indiana surprisingly often. Recently, the Netflix horror drama “Stranger Things,” which is based in Indiana, has been met with positive acclaim from critics and common viewers alike. In the past, Indiana-based comedies such as “Parks and Recreation,” “The Middle” and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” have also been positively received by the general population.

“Stranger Things” focuses on the disappearance of Will Byers (Noah Schnapp). Will’s friends, Dustin Henderson (Gaten Matarazzo), Mike Wheeler (Finn Wolfhard) and Lucas Sinclair (Caleb McLaughlin), investigate his disappearance. They meet a psychokinetic girl, Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), who claims to know Will’s location.

The change of setting from the beaches of Los Angeles to the corn fields of Indiana can be a difficult transition for viewers and producers alike. Yet Indiana’s landscape seems to resonate well with the general audience and Indiana residents in particular.

According to Georgia Boyd, avid “Stranger Things” fan and sophomore said, “I connect more with the Indiana TV shows because I understand their setting and environment better than New York or Los Angeles.”

Boyd and Fleischer expressed that setting can be impactful and that familiar settings can resonate with viewers well.

Boyd endorsed “Stranger Things,” and said, “I watched it all in one sitting. Hopefully, Hollywood sees its success and makes more Indiana shows.”

On the other hand, an Indiana-based setting can be a difficult transition for directors and producers.

While she mentioned that she was not the most expert source regarding set locations, CHTV director Anna Kaiser said, “A unique setting brings with it lots of unforeseen challenges that can be problematic for producers and directors. Although uncommon settings have problems, they can be of the utmost importance to a show. The setting must match the tone to create the desired effect for the viewer.”

Location is important in the television industry, and although Indiana is not the most common setting, it is still relevant to viewers. Indiana has been the setting for multiple successful shows recently, and with the newfound popularity of “Stranger Things,” a new and prosperous era of Indiana-based TV shows could be right around the corner.