We've compiled a top five list of TV shows that planners should, and in some instances, must watch.
5. Spin City
Spin City ran from 1996 to 2002. The plot of the show was about the New York Mayor's office and all the great stuff that comes with that. While the show was not focused on urban planning per se, it did give a fictional glimpse into how the actions of Mayors and by extension cities are made and often misconstrued by the general public.
4. Broad City
Broad City really has nothing to do with city planning, however like Friends, Seinfeld, Taxi, Girls, and others, Broad City is set in the Big Apple which is America's largest metropolis. What sets Broad City apart, other than a cult-creating brand of humor (it is hilarious!), is that the show follows the two leads, Abby and Ilana, who travel the City and its public transit and give the viewers a glimpse into what living in a large city is like. Broad City in many ways could be a documentary of NYC life for broke 20-somethings trying to make do.
You can watch Broad City on Hulu.
If you haven't watched Portlandia, turn off the device that you're reading this on, close the curtains, turn on Netflix, and thank me later. Portlandia is a sketch comedy show that features Carrie and Fred and their characters that describe what life is like in Portland, Oregon. With Portland being in many respects planning's Mecca, its not hard to see why this show is on our list. Featuring comedy bits involving bike lanes, AirBNBs, civic pride, and putting birds on things, Portlandia is a must watch for urban planners.
Portlandia is on Netflix and the newest season is on IFC.
2. Parks and Recreation
Until Parks and Recreation, there wasn't any show on TV that focused on the happenings in local government. No shows that spoke the lingo and really brought the humor out in what it is to work in public service. Parks and Rec went so far as to have actual former city managers and other "technical" experts to bring realism into the show. Oh, and Mark Brandanawicz's portrayal of a disenchanted city planner...spot on. The first two seasons of Parks and Rec are perhaps the best of the series before the show tried to overstate local politics. No list about planning-type shows would be complete without highlighting Parks and Rec.
Parks and Rec is on Netflix.
1. Utopia (AUS)/ Dreamland (US)
Remember what we said about Portlandia? Same thing here. Netflix. Dreamland. Now! Utopia (in Australia) or Dreamland for those who aren't fortunate to live down unda, stands alone in the category for shows that would speak directly to public sector planners. Yes, its Australia. Yes, its higher-level government planning than most of us do, but the rest is there. Perhaps the best way describe it is that it is The Office if Dunder Mifflin made infrastructure project plans instead of the paper that they go on. But even that doesn't truly reflect the brilliance of the dialogue, the lingo, or the realism in Tony's character. Dreamland is where The Office meets Parks and Rec, with a tinge of Portlandia. The show is not a documentary, but the casting, the writing, the acting of Tony and Nat, makes the viewer wonder if these actors are actually former planners or government bureaucrats.
Seasons 1 and 2 are on Netflix. The show is in Season 3 currently in Australia, which one would suspect that it will eventually make its way onto Netflix.
Are there any shows we forgot? Tell us in the comments...
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