Then The Walking Dead In 2011, Senoia, Georgia, was home to 3,300 people and only five of the 49 stores on the once charming high street were open. The former cotton town was on the brink of death. Ideal for a series about a zombie apocalypse. Although the makers of the hit show allowed it to be just a little more desolate. That is why the residents were asked not to mow their grass anymore.
In the ten years that the series is now filming in Senoia, the town has been fully utilized. The main street has been transformed into the fictional Woodbury, where in season three survivors of the zombie outbreak live behind fortified walls. A row of stately brownstones became Alexandria from season five, a safe haven for the heroes of the series. And the disused and dilapidated train track reappeared in various forms and was the backdrop to one of the most shocking deaths in the series.
The area, full of dilapidated factory buildings, old farms with peeling paint and once stately neo-classical houses, also featured regularly in the show. The location made the desolate and deserted America from the series believable.
A good location – real or fake – creates atmosphere and character. It should take the viewer to another world. It tells part of the story, like music without lyrics. And is at its best when it becomes an extra character in a television series.
Sex and the City loses all excitement without New York. The same can be said of Gossip Girl, Girls, Billions and Succession. Even Seinfeld, friends and Mad Men – series that did not record a single minute in the city – are inextricably linked to New York for fans.
In front of the building in the West Village where four of the friends from Friends supposedly lived, tourists are taking pictures every day. A few blocks away, the stairs to Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment are chained – the nuisance of SATC fans trying to immortalize themselves on New York’s most famous ‘stoop’ was too great for the residents of the multimillion-dollar building.
And it’s not just New York that does well in series. Game of Thrones still attracts fans to Croatia and Iceland. Every fall, a small town in Connecticut is transformed into Stars Hollow for a Gilmore Girls-fanfest. The Irish Tourism Board used the success of Normal People to promote Sligo. Coaches with fans of . drive through the Gooi Gooische Women. And every Saturday morning, an elated group steps into a dreary parking lot off the New Jersey highway sopranosviewers from a bus to strip club Bada Bing! to see for real.
When we like a series we would prefer to dive into it. Although the reality is often less spectacular than the movie magic would have us believe (in a New Jersey strip club, the dancers are not allowed to be topless when serving alcohol, and the real Stars Hollow is just a set in California, where it never snows) .
Senoia does not disappoint. In the ten years that the still popular series is now filming there, the town has grown into a tourist attraction. The main street is bustling – protagonist Norman Reedus even opened a restaurant there – and fans from all over the world flock to see the famous filming locations. Senoia is alive again, thanks The Walking Dead.
A version of this article also appeared in NRC in the morning of August 4, 2021