If you’re a television or movie buff – and who isn’t nowadays – you’ve probably grown accustomed to seeing your favorite cities in the background of many different scenes. With the average American spending 2.7 hours watching TV per day, it’s possible that, with at least one or two television shows, you consider the city as a character in itself. Sometimes, if a television show is good, the setting not only adds layers to the show, it has a life of its own.
There are countless TV shows that take place in memorable settings. Some might even say that the island on the TV show “LOST” was the main character throughout the series. For many shows, the backdrop is a gorgeous city. From beautiful Los Angeles as seen in “Brothers & Sisters” to New Orleans as seen in the third season of “American Horror Story,” filming locations are all around us and add depth to our favorite television shows.
This is definitely the case when it comes to the vibrant and lively city of Chicago. Throughout the years, Chicago has been a main character in the shows you love, whether you realize it or not. You might be surprised when you see just how many of your favorite TV shows were based in Chicago. You’ll also find it fascinating that some of the shows you thought were filmed in Chicago actually weren’t.
The Good Chicago
For seven seasons, the TV show “The Good Wife” followed the lead character of Alicia Florrick as she tried to be a “good wife” during her husband’s sex and corruption scandal. Throughout the series, viewers saw Alicia, played by actress Julianna Margulies, take on a sort of hero’s journey role. With a female lead, “The Good Wife” quickly gained numerous viewers – especially among women.
How does the city of Ch icago factor into “The Good Wife”? For starters, at the beginning of the series, we see Alicia’s disgraced husband, played by Chris Noth, incarcerated for corruption. Alicia’s husband is the Cook County State’s Attorney. With a major city such as Chicago as the setting, politics must go hand in hand.
Although “The Good Wife” is set in Chicago, very few scenes were actually filmed in the city. Locating Chicago landmarks during the show proved to be quite difficult as they were actually few and far between. However, despite the lack of onscreen time the city had, Chicago remained relevant in the story and the dialogue. If you think Julianna Margulies and Chicago being in the same sentence sounds familiar, you were probably a fan of another hit TV show based in Chicago – “E.R.”
The Medical Drama That Started It All
When you think of a medical drama, shows such as “Strong Medicine,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Private Practice” might come to mind. However, if you’re like most of America, the first TV show you think about is probably the show that starred Noah Wyle, Laura Innes, Julianna Margulies and George Clooney. That’s right – we’re talking about “E.R.”
A show that revolutionized the way people see emergency rooms and the day-to-day life of hospitals, “E.R.” quickly developed a large fan base. With 15 seasons and over 200 episodes running from 1994 to 2009, “E.R.” is still seen today, albeit in the form of syndication, DVD, or online viewing. Another great fact about this legendary TV show – it’s set in Chicago, of course.
If you’re a fan of “E.R.” and you live in Chicago, you’ve probably noticed the Chicago filming locations throughout the series. Chicago’s famous “L” train platforms are seen in numerous exterior scenes throughout the show. Although the show was primarily filmed in Los Angeles, videographers would frequently visit Chicago to get the exterior shots that only the city of Chicago could provide.
A City Without Shame
Another TV show based in Chicago is the outrageously hilarious “Shameless” starring William H. Macy and Emmy Rossum. Now airing on Showtime, this Chicago TV show follows an alcoholic father as he struggles to raise his six children. From season to season, viewers get to tag along on the adventures had by this dysfunctional family.
Sometimes, residents of Chicago can even catch a glimpse of celebrities while they’re in the city filming for their show. Even though “Shameless” is set in Chicago, some filming still takes place in Los Angeles. Despite this, the cast and crew still make time to fly to Chicago for most of the exterior scenes. From Chicago landmarks to unique views of the city, the videographers of “Shameless” have their work cut out for them.
Come to Your Senses and Visit Chicago
A show that garnered national attention due to its representation of diversity and acceptance, the sci-fi drama “Sense8” is in a world of its own. Following the intertwined lives of eight people who live in various cities across the globe, “Sense8” was created by the Wachowski siblings who are most famously known for “The Matrix” and “Cloud Atlas.”
The city of Chicago is fortunate enough to be one of the many cities from around the world featured multiple times on the show. During its second season, the show visited 16 countries in only seven months. In fact, when asked to reveal their favorite filming locations, actor Max Riemelt, who plays Wolfgang on the show, stated that his favorite place to shoot was Chicago due to its architecture and culture.
The first two seasons of this deep and thought-provoking TV show can be seen on Netflix. “Sense8” was unfortunately prematurely canceled in 2017. Netflix said that the reason for the cancellation was due to the expensive $9m per episode filming costs. After public outcry, however, especially from those in the LGBT community, Netflix issued a two-hour finale to wrap up the story for the fans. The finale of “Sense8” debuts later this year.
If you’re looking for a show to watch that’s actually filmed in Chicago, “Chicago Fire” is the answer. In fact, “Chicago Fire” garnered such well-received ratings and viewership that two spin-offs, “Chicago P.D.” and “Chicago Med,” were produced. With Chicago featured prominently in the show title, the city is gaining plenty of attention.
If you’re walking around the city, it’s possible that you may even come across a film set since sometimes the filming of “Chicago Fire” causes streets to be shut down. For those seeking filming locations, you’ll find that the fictional Firehouse 51 featured on the show is actually the fire station Engine 18.
Mike & Molly & Chicago
Speaking of cancellations, one show that never recovered was “Mike & Molly.” This sitcom about two heavy-set adults looking for love sparked Melissa McCarthy’s career. At the beginning of the show, “Mike & Molly” meet and fall in love at an Overeaters Anonymous meeting. As you can imagine, jokes about weight, food and obesity run rampant.
The show was set in Chicago with Mike being a cop and Molly being a teacher. Being canceled after six seasons is nothing to complain about though – there are still over a hundred episodes that can be viewed online.
Married… With Children
When it comes to sitcoms, they’ve never lost popularity. From “Everybody Loves Raymond” to “Seinfeld,” sitcoms have given us the majority of our laughs over the years, thus proving that laughter is the best medicine and nearly guarantees high ratings and long-term viewership.
Another well-known sitcom that we’re sure you’ve heard of before is “Married… With Children” starring Ed O’Neill as Al Bundy and Katey Sagal as Peggy Bundy. If you’re unfamiliar with “Married… With Children,” you might recognize Ed O’Neill as Jay Pritchett on “Modern Family” and Katey Sagal as the character of Gemma Morrow from “Sons of Anarchy.”
As far as Al Bundy is concerned, he was the typical father who seemed to hate his family. Constant complaints and bickering, although funny, were his primary character traits. In fact, the show touched on numerous topics – from promiscuity to anger. There are many life lessons to learn from “Married… With Children,” the good and the bad.
“Married… With Children” is set in a fictional suburb of Chicago and throughout the show’s 11-year run, audiences could catch a glimpse of the historic Buckingham Fountain in the opening credits. If you enjoy visiting filming locations, you might be interested to know that the house filmed in exterior shots to represent the Bundy house is indeed a real house in Chicago.
Family Truly Does Matter
For those who live in Chicago or travel to the area in search of various filming locations, you could visit the famous house that was filmed for the exterior shots of the home from “Family Matters” until recently. In September 2017, the “Family Matters” house was approved by the city of Chicago for demolition.
Just like “E.R.,” “The Good Wife” and various other TV shows that are set in Chicago, “Family Matters” too was filmed in Los Angeles. Despite this, the home featured in the opening credits really was in Chicago, similar to how the home from “Married… With Children” was featured.
Even if you’ve never seen a full episode of “Family Matters,” you’ve probably heard of the infamous Steve Urkel character. Constantly clumsy, Urkel was always asking, “Did I do that?” in his signature, annoying voice that most people instantly recognize when they hear.
Another TV show that touched on real issues by using humor, “Family Matters” aired for a total of nine seasons. As viewers tuned in each week, there was always a moral to every story. At the heart of the show was the importance of family and that story never gets old.
For fans of sci-fi and those who enjoy post-apocalyptic TV shows, you might remember the two-season show “Revolution.” Set 15 years into the future after a global blackout has taken place, “Revolution” started out strong with a unique concept. With no technology and no cars, the story followed heroes as they tried to navigate an unfamiliar and dangerous world that no one had ever seen before.
Many scenes relied on digital technology. Some of the main characters, Aaron Pittman and Charlie Matheson, played by Zak Orth and Tracy Spiridakos respectively, are seen trekking through Chicago. However, the city is overgrown with greenery. Nature has taken its toll, and it’s had 15 years to do damage. Early on in the series, viewers catch a glimpse of the famous Wrigley Field, although it looks nothing like it does today.
The mythology of “Revolution” grew with each episode, which kept viewers entertained. Rachel Matheson, played by Elizabeth Mitchell, was constantly bewildering audiences with her unexpected motives and actions. Near the end of season two, audiences no longer enjoyed the mythology presented on the show. Storylines became slightly complicated and it wasn’t enough to hold the viewer’s attention – leading to the eventual cancellation after season two.
As was the case with the cancellation of “Sense8,” soon after “Revolution” was canceled, fans started a petition online to bring the show back. Fans ultimately received a comic book adaptation that completed the character arcs and satisfied those who religiously tuned in each week to learn more about the mysteries presented on the show.
No Happy Endings
It seems as if all the great shows set in Chicago or feature Chicago in some way end up being canceled. Unlike “Sense8” or “Revolution,” fans of the Chicago-set TV show “Happy Endings” never received a conclusion to their story after the show was also canceled. Despite the title, viewers never received their happy ending.
We’re all familiar with “Friends,” but “Happy Endings” is a lesser-known gem about six friends. Set in Chicago, but filmed in Los Angeles, “Happy Endings” follows the story of these friends and their crazy, hilarious adventures. With witty comebacks, each character brings an unusual twist to the familiar stereotypes.
Airing from 2011-2013, “Happy Endings” at least had three full seasons air – which is more than “Sense8” or “Revolution” can say. Even though “Happy Endings” was filmed in Los Angeles, the sitcom still found a way to tie in the city of Chicago with various plotlines.
It seems like everywhere you turn, whether you’re walking the streets of Chicago or turning on the television, you’re reminded of the great city and all the famous filming locations. Although we haven’t been featured in a hit TV show yet, Giordano’s has still achieved fame with our unique stuffed pizza. While you’re out exploring the city, stop by our restaurant to get a slice. Our pizza is a hit with locals, as well as tourists from all over the world.
Tickle your taste buds when you visit Giordano’s. We have a reputation of pleasing our customers and providing an enjoyable experience. Our quality ingredients ensure that once you’ve tried one of our delicious pizzas, you’ll understand what all the fuss is about. Stop by one of our many locations today.