Tuning in Syracuse

I’m a fan of The Office and because the show is set in Scranton, part of the fun is seeing all of the Rust Belt, back-of-BosWash references on the show. Upstate cities occasionally get mentioned, and products from Wegmans sometimes make an appearance. It turns out that being cast as a “boring, dead-end city” has paid off handsomely for Scranton: they just hosted a wildly successful convention for Office fans from all over the world.

It’s all because of the name, you know. SCRAAANton. It sounds scraggly, like it’s just scraping by. Syracuse is just as worn down as Scranton, but would we ever get a TV show set here? Doubtful. In order to have a TV show set in your city, it has to either be very, very cool (like San Francisco), or very UN-cool — yet, it must be brave enough to embrace its uncoolness. I think Syracuse has a problem with that. (Not as bad a problem as Rochester has, but still.) Upstate is too proud, the pain of its fall still rankles too much.

If you had the ear of someone in Hollywood, what would be your Syracuse TV series pitch? Sitcom or drama? Past day or present day? Dramedy? RomCom? Sci-fi? (Extra points if it’s scripted, and not a reality TV concept.) Personally, I’d prefer a good old serialized drama a la Hill Street Blues, though not necessarily about cops.

7 thoughts on “Tuning in Syracuse

  1. Mrs. Mecomber

    Isn’t “The Sopranos” about as close to Upstate metro as you can get? (at least, for Utica).

    Me, I’d love to see 24 skip LA for once and try Upstate.

  2. Len

    There actually was a show set here, called “The Trouble With Larry” … it starred Bronson Pinchot, and only lasted a few episodes.

    Maybe they could film “Dawn of the Dead: The TV Series” at Carousel :-)

    More seriously, a U.S version of the BBC’s “Hotel Babylon” filmed at the Hotel Syracuse would be neat, though based on their track records I’d sooner Fx develop that one than one of the “big 3” networks.

  3. Carla

    As a native of Scranton (and currently living in Syracuse) I love this blog entry.
    But since I’ve only lived up here for 3 years, and am not even remotely close to really “knowing” Syracuse, I’m in no position to suggest a show or make a pitch. Never mind that if I had to choose between the two (Syracuse and Scranton) I’d choose Scranton (maybe thats the familiarity speaking)
    But anyway.. indeed, I love watching The Office for the little easter eggs about the area. Poor Richard’s pub (last episode) Farley’s. Tinks. Froggy 101. Steamtown Mall.. and so on, and so on. It ALMOST makes me homesick ;)

  4. Ellen Post author

    I think the show writers definitely do their homework about Scranton and the whole region that Scranton is part of, which does include Syracuse and Utica and other places they’ve mentioned in passing on the show. It is the closest thing on TV to a show about Syracuse (that’s not why I watch it, but I feel they do a great and respectful job with the general vibe). I imagine that Scrantonites (Scrantonians?) would be thrilled with this kind of exposure.

  5. Brian Cubbison

    Syracuse seems to appear in the movies more than it shows up in TV shows. Maybe we’re just too big for the small screen. But how about:

    Small-market sports talk host copes with zany fans, neighbors and coaches during a losing season.

    New York City actress returns to her Upstate hometown to raise her sister’s children in a working-class neighborhood.

    College students rent a house and post their beer-pong playing antics on YouTube.

    Colorful characters hang out in an all-night diner in the shadow of the world’s largest mall/resort.

    Blogger becomes powerful adviser to the mayor while worrying about whether she’s selling out and losing touch with the real people.

  6. Taylor Made


    Binghamton and on occasion Syracuse would be frequently mentioned on the Twilight Zone.

    It seems to me that the local talent once it goes national acts as if they don’t want to grace the place with any positive publicity. I guess they’re all on publicity cruise control and just want to promote themselves.

Comments are closed.