Last night, the remake of 1978 classic television show Dallas premiered on TNT. Telling the story of a ranch family, secrets of deception, sibling rivalry, and betrayal unfold over the family’s hefty fortune. Filmed at real-life Southfork Ranch in Parker, Texas, Dallas distances itself from portraying Dallas, Texas, as a charming, Southern town, but instead one filled with residents focused on drama, greed, and power.
For viewers that have never been to Dallas they are surely getting a skewed depiction of the town. Many recent television shows have become focused on locations, such as the Real Housewives Series, Gossip Girl, The OC, and The Hills. With a town tied to the schemes and poor behavior of cast members, many viewers are not getting a fair representation of these places.
As a native New Yorker, I was immediately drawn to the Real Housewives of New York and New Jersey to see what these cast members were like. To my surprise, the television shows highlighted ridiculous behavior that they intended to pass off as “normal” people from these cities and states.
The Real Housewives of Atlanta helped Atlanta to be dubbed as the "7th Worst Dressed City in America" by Travel and Leisure Magazine thanks to the style of these cast members. Most of the episodes are focused on the personal and possibly scripted aspects of these women’s lives that include lavish parties, cheating, imprisonment, and negative attitudes. In the Real Housewives of New Jersey, many cast members were found defending their actions by saying, “It’s a Jersey thing,” which only confirms to viewers that all New Jersians and New Yorkers act in such a way. To residents, including myself, such accusations of these women’s behavior are offensive, especially considering most of us go to work and live modest lifestyles unlike these housewives.
In other reality shows that recently came to a close like The Hills and Laguna Beach, both of which follow famous actress and fashion mogul Lauren Conrad, plots are focused on the younger crowd in California and their materialistic and fashion obsession. Many episodes follow Conrad and her group of friends partying, drinking, and making poor decisions. This TV portrayal paints California women as those always getting into dramatic situations, trouble, and further focuses on trivial aspects of their lives, which takes away from the many Californians that work very hard in their industries to get their position of power, unlike these cast members. Through these shows, the West Coast is portrayed as a "party place" instead of one of serious work.
By looking at the plot of these location-centric shows, it becomes even more clear that this television is a genre and not a description of the location. Many television stars are often casted due to the unusual and unruly circumstances and their ability to act wildly in reaction to scripted events. By producers encouraging conflicts between the cast members, the show differs from what a normal group of individuals would do.
Although Dallas is a scripted show, the perception it conveys on Texas itself is very relevant and possibly even planned by producers and cast members. Many of the television show’s members are considered "infamous" ranchers that are famous for cheating, scheming, and manipulation. By giving all characters a negative attitude and personality, it subconsciously conveys to viewers that all Dallas residents can be compared to these characters and their materialistic and power-hungry attitudes. Having met many individuals from around Texas, I can attest that this is the furthest from the truth. Just like in The Real Housewives series and California reality television shows, Dallas will slowly become to be recognized as a town of greed due to the premiere of this show.
Dallas premiered June 13th on TNT, and can be viewed every Wednesday at 9/8 EST.