Midwest Showtime: Here's What You Need to Watch
We polled Midwest Living staffers about their favorite shows and movies with a Midwest theme. Settle back on the couch and get ready to experience the #MidwestAtHome with both new series and vintage flicks:
- The cast of NBC's Parks and Rec reunites Thursday, April 30, for one 30-minute episode to raise money for Feeding America's COVID-19 Response Fund. If that inspires you to revisit the series, set in the fictional town of Pawnee, Indiana, 125 episodes will go a long way toward filling quarantine hours.
- If you’re looking for more binge-worthy shows (and who isn’t right now?), seasons three and four of Queer Eye bring the Fab Five to Kansas City, Missouri, and other Midwest locations to help different subjects make over their lifestyles in each emotional episode.
- The new Netflix original series Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker tells all about Indianapolis native Walker, the first self-made female millionaire. Academy Award-winning actress Octavia Spencer portrays this daughter of freed slaves and her struggle against racism, sexism and poverty.
- To gain some foodie inspiration while self-isolating, Girl Meets Farm on Food Network will have you sharpening your cooking skills at home with cookbook author and blogger Molly Yeh, who lives near Grand Forks, North Dakota.
- On Tuesdays, tune into ABC for Bless this Mess, a comedy about a couple who give up their life in NYC for what they expected to be a quieter one in rural Nebraska.
- Set in Missouri, Ozark will have you on the edge of your seat watching Marty and his family navigate their lives while laundering money for a drug cartel.
Travel back in time—a couple of decades or more—with classic movies and TV shows based in Midwest locations. Here are a few of our staffers' picks:
- Bridges of Madison County (1995) tells the nostalgic story of a whirlwind romance between a photographer on assignment and an Iowan housewife.
- On another now-famous farm in Iowa, Field of Dreams (originally released in 1989) follows Ray as he decides what to do about the voices he hears telling him to turn his cornfield into a baseball field.
- Continuing with the sports flicks, Hoosiers (1986) takes you along the heartwarming journey of a rural Indiana high school basketball coach connecting with his players; The Mighty Ducks (1992) finds a defense attorney leading an underdog youth hockey team to a championship game in Minnesota; and A League of Their Own (1992), partly filmed at Wrigley Field, shows what it was like to play for the AAGPBL during World War II (and reminds us “there’s no crying in baseball”).
- Also based in Chicago, cult classics Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) and The Breakfast Club (1985) follow groups of rebellious teenagers in just another day of high school. High Fidelity (2000), a love story about a music-loving record store owner, takes place in The Windy City a decade and a half later.
- Purple Rain (1984) stars Minneapolis native Prince himself portraying “The Kid,” the front man of The Revolution. The film’s soundtrack gave us hits “When Doves Cry,” “Let’s Go Crazy” and, of course, “Purple Rain.”
- For more Twin Cities content: Catch some episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970-1977), an iconic American sitcom with realistic storylines (for the time) and an independent female lead; or watch rivals living in a St. Paul neighborhood fight over the same love interest in Grumpy Old Men (1993).
- For movies set in Nebraska, Alexander Payne directed both Election (1996), which portrays the comedic high school campaign trail of overachiever Tracy Flick, and About Schmidt (2002), the story of a retired man looking for his purpose while preparing for his estranged daughter’s wedding.
- If you’re in a serious mood, The Shawshank Redemption (1994) is a must-watch. Shot in the Ohio State Reformatory, it centers around inmates serving their sentences in a tough prison and one in particular who claims he's innocent.
- Dances With Wolves (1990), another classic drama, reveals the story of a Union Army lieutenant who travels to South Dakota to find a military post and forms a relationship with a nearby Native American tribe.
- On a lighter note, the 1970s sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati features a radio station struggling to adapt with the times and its eccentric team.
- Finally, don't forget The Wizard of Oz (1939). This film has truly stood the test of time. And nothing says “Midwest” like a Kansas farm and a tornado – but the rest of it is another world.