When it came to creating my own fictional town, I tried to think about the other ones I loved most. Here’s five of the best–but there were plenty of others from which to choose!
1. Stars Hollow, The Gilmore Girls
Although this list isn’t in any particular order, Gilmore Girls was the first thing to come to mind when I thought about beloved fictional towns. While there are many wonderful shows and books from which to choose, GG won it for me on the sheer size of the idiosyncratic cast. Between the annual festivals, the town meetings, Taylor and Kirk creating hassles, the diner and the inn, there’s personality to the town. Stars Hollow residents rally behind their own, and shake their collective head when one of them is an idiot. Seriously, the episode in which Kirk forgot to make a map of where he hid all the Easter Eggs is brilliant.
Who doesn’t want to live there?
2. Pawnee, Parks and Rec (NBC, 2009-2015)
As much as the plot focused on the members of the Parks Department, it was their love of Pawnee that gave the show a lot of life. Often the care of their town was a thankless job, and the bureaucratic mess in Pawnee was probably more accurate than I’d like to believe. (If you’ve ever sat in on a town hall or city council meeting anywhere, some of the ridiculousness seen in this show rings pretty true). I loved that Pawnee had bizarre quirks, like its obsession with Li’l Sebastian, the miniature horse who was so beloved that he received an honorary degree from Notre Dame.
3. Highbury, Emma by Jane Austen
Much of the joy of Emma is in watching Emma interact with the various residents of Highbury and in witnessing the various romances go through various trials and tribulations. Plus, the reaction to new residents and visitors provides a lot of the drama in this novel.
4. Mayberry, The Andy Griffith Show
Has there ever been a better town for finding zany residents? I watched a ton of reruns of this show growing up–I have family in North Carolina, so I think it’s some sort of rite of passage to watch it.
5. Innisfree, The Quiet Man (1952)
The Quiet Man is one of my favorite movies of all-time and certainly depicts one of the best fictional towns. Innisfree is filled with nosy townsfolk that band together to see Sean (John Wayne) and Mary Kate (Maureen O’Hara) live happily ever after despite the opposition from Mary Kate’s older brother. It ends in one of the larger fist-fights on film–with everyone either throwing fists or betting money on the outcome. The movie is endearing, romantic, and often joyful, and it always leaves me with a smile.
Many of the scenes were filmed in Cong, County Mayo, which is now a wealthy town from its healthy tourism business. So, if you’re looking for a nice place to visit, add Cong to the list.
Honorable mention: Avonlea, Anne of Green Gables.