Washington, DC, turns up in a lot of books and TV shows.
We can see stock shots on NCIS, Covert Affairs, and Bones. None of the shows are filmed here. There are some books where I’ve wonder if the author at least Googled the city because of the things they do get wrong. The three biggest culprits:
Thinking it’s all about politics
Granted, if you read the Washington Post or Washington Times, you would think that DC is all about politics. There isn’t a major newspaper in the area that reports on local news. But a lot of books and movies and TV are guilty of thinking DC is only politics.
It’s a city that has a lot of problems with money. In the past, the schools have been shut down by the courts because the city could not afford to fix safety hazards. More recent news has the fire departments keeping their trucks that need repair because they come back in worse shape when they are repaired.
Then there’s the exploding manhole covers …
But it’s also a city with a very visible disability population, because the Federal government is the largest employer of the disabled and actively recruits for it. It’s common to go into a mall or a Starbucks and see a person with a service animal or with a cane or a wheelchair.
There’s also a lot of military. You will see them on the Metro, walking the street, eating in Burger King. I’ve even seen foreign military.
Washington DC has a large food community. Because there are so many different cultures in the area, there’s a wide variety of different cuisines. Chefs are always opening new restaurants or experimenting with ways to serve the food.
Then there’s the history … Really, I could go on and on. There’s a lot here that never gets touched in most fiction.
Getting the traffic wrong
Let’s start with the traffic here is bad. And it gets worse when it rains or snows, when the President’s motorcade departs or returns, or when an event happens, such as when the cherry blossoms bloom.
Traffic is so bad in this area, we actually have an advice columnist on it.
Yet, books and TV portray us as having no traffic. No one driving around discusses leaving a different time to avoid rush hour, or gets caught in traffic (except for NCIS). In one book, a high speed chase took place on 17th Street. My first reaction: Have you been on 17th Street?!
Call Metro a Subway
Yes, we do have an underground train system. Technically, it’s a subway. No one here calls it a subway.
It’s the Metro.
NCIS is the only TV show to have gotten this one right. They’ve even shown the map of the Metro system.
Have you been to DC? What did you think of it?
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