Ah, New England: Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. Cradle of The American Revolution, home of Plymouth Rock, Ben and Jerry's, Walden Pond and the Red Sox, and chock full of fish.
In media, by contrast, New England gets Flanderized into... well, there's kind of a duality here.
On one side, we have the highbrow intellectuals who go to Ivy League universities, write books, dabble in philosophy and end up as magnificent eccentrics. Many of these are scions of the "Codfish Aristocracy" or "Boston Brahmins", uber-exclusive old families who can trace their ancestry back to the Mayflower passenger list.note None of whom were named Kennedy, incidentally. That family is famously Irish Catholic rather than WASP, and made their money in real estate, the stock market, and Prohibition-era bootlegging. All this snootiness comes in very handy when a producer requires a Black Sheep... or just wants an excuse to film in and around Kennebunkport, Hyannisport, or Martha's Vineyard.
On the other side of the coin, we have the tough immigrant laborers, folksy down-home farmers, and of course the crusty flannel-wearing fishermen who give us the seafood we so crave. All of these people will be veritable founts of down-to-earth wisdom, generally dispensed using as many goofily inscrutable metaphors as possible ("Cold enough to freeze the skin off a beanpole!")
Come to think of it, fish is brain food, so maybe it all fits together after all...
In reality, New England is one of the oldest regions of the United States: six separate states with a mountain range up the middle and the Gulf Stream just offshore, meaning the climate and geography are all a lot more variable than that found in most other regions of the country. (Don't like the weather? Wait five minutes.) Seacoast Massachusetts is a very different place from the suburbs of Connecticut's Fairfield County, the Lakes Region of New Hampshire, the "Northern Plantations" of Maine or the Green Mountains of Vermont, and each region has its own variations of culture, accent and traditions. All of which is pretty much lost on Hollywood.
The standard protocol is for the lowly, regardless of region, to be given a generic Down East accent. The grand get the Boston-specific version, as heavily popularized by JFK and family. The irony here is that no other person in New England actually speaks like the Kennedys. Their infamous accent actually has a touch of the Queen's English mixed in, because the founding generation spent a fair amount of time in the UK while growing up (family patriarch Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr., was Ambassador to the Court of St. James's 1938-1940 and had other business there as well).
Their ubiquitousness on the cultural scene, meanwhile, has resulted in 95% of Hollywood having no idea how to use a Boston accent, thus bolstering the careers of Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, and brothers Mark and Donnie Wahlberg. For that matter, non-New Englanders generally don't realize that there are in fact four versions of the "Boston" accent, only one of which is the stereotypical version — and in real life, it's hardly as exaggerated as depicted.
This trope mostly covers Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, and eastern Massachusetts (Boston, Plymouth, Cape Cod, and the islands). When Connecticut appears, it tends to be depicted as a bunch of rich suburbs of New York City (a drive from parts of CT to NYC is roughly only an hour!) filled with insufferable geniuses who are/were educated at posh universities like Yale, though cities not named New Haven tend to be portrayed as decrepit, crime-ridden shitholes that are essentially the East Coast's version of the Rust Belt. Western Massachusetts ("west'a Woostah"), for all intents and purposes, does not exist (if you ask a lot of people from West Mass this is truth in television, particularly when dealing with a Bostonian; as the saying goes, "west'a Woostah, it's a different place".). On the rare occasions where things are set "west'a Woostah", expect to see lots of farmland, as well as college kids if it takes place in the city (and lesbians if it takes place in Northampton, which, although a stereotype, is certainly Truth in Television if you ask anyone who lives in the Five College area, especially if they actually go to Smith). As anyone from Boston will tell you, it's a wicked good city, though the roads are wicked gay. In addition, there's a new competitor in the cliché-stakes: "Southie", home of the Southies, which (as depicted in media) is not so much South Boston as it is a crime-ridden, extremely northerly borough of New York. Whaya they tawk funny.
Rural Hollywood New England is where you usually find brilliant autumn foliage displays◊, and picturesque snowy winter landscapes. This is largely Truth in Television; they look like scenes from a Norman Rockwell painting because they are. Keep in mind, of course, that this is also Lovecraft Country.
The phrase "Pahk my cah in Hahvad Yahd, 'cuz that's a good ideer" is a well-known shibboleth of the accent, though through years and years of joking overuse of the phrase the pronunciation of it in most media (and amongst most non-Bostonians) has distorted it and exaggerated it beyond recognitionFor a somewhat fairer/more accurate shibboleth In a Bostonian or similar New England accent, "car keys" and "khakis" are pronounced nearly identically.. By the way, the car will get towed, and saying it to an actual Bostonian or attempting to get them to say it is a great way to get your jaw broken.
Contrast California Valley Girl speak.
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The old-money life is spoofed with abandon and made gangsta in this ad for Smirnoff Tea. "High tea in the pawlah makes the ladies hawlah!"
There was a fast-food commercial where a recent trade to the Boston Red Sox was eating his burger as he listened to a tape teaching him how to speak New Englander. "Hahd. I like to play wicked hahd. Hahd."
It was an ad for Dunkin Donuts featuring Curt Schilling, the Sox' star pitcher at the time. The ad played on the fact that there are two things that make Boston great: the Red Sox, and Dunkin Donuts.
There's a similar commercial for McDonald's coffee. Two flannel-dressed guys on a pier correct each other's New Englandisms (like how to pronounce Worcesternote it's pronounced like Wus-ter, not Wor-chest-er). "Best Broadway show ever?" "Wicked"!
Ironically, the McDonald's version was for Green Mountain Coffee Roasters' coffee which is based in Vermont west of the Green Mountains, which had been closer to New York City pre-Interstate and never had a nonrhotic accent.
There's another one in the same vein where a guy quizzes his girlfriend on her New England trivia.
Southie accents get a workout in ads for the Hopper (indecently a slang word for a toilet) satellite dish system.
Tourism advertising for the states themselves often falls into this. If you listen to Massachusetts' tourism board, the entire state is Cape Cod and the Freedom Trail.
Similarly, Vermont is happy to tell you at length about its trees and skiing.
And apparently, all Connecticut consists of is two enormous casinos and a couple of boats.
According to Rhode Island's tourism ads, the state consists exclusively of downtown Newport (and, if they're lucky, Bristol and Wickford)
It's lately been a fad in Boston-area billboards to write the text in an "accent."
When made man Nicky Cavella first appears in The Punisher, he and his partners arrive in New York from Boston. The first thing his liaison to the local mob families asks him is, "So you guys are from Boston too, huh? Did ya leave ya cahh inna pahkin' laht?"
Mort Walker and Dik Browne were both from Connecticut, so their comic strip Hi and Lois took place there, but depicted the usual small towns positively instead of mocking them. There would occasionally appear beautiful landscape drawings in the panels!
While the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles originated in New York, after getting chased out by the Shredder they spent a while in and around Northampton, Massachusetts, which is where their creators hail from.
Averted, surprisingly, in a DC Elseworlds book: The main story takes place in a fantasy realm with high fantasy counterparts of the Justice League, but the opening and closing pages faithfully depict areas in Brattleboro, VT.
As of The New 52, Black Manta was born in and has as his base of operations Gloucester, MA.
The Dark Horse miniseries Colder is set in Boston, but averts this: The artwork gets the geography right.
Dead Poets Society is set in Vermont, focusing, of course, on the highbrow intellectual side. Given that it was a high-end boarding school, it's unlikely that all of the students were actually from Vermont, and it was filmed in Delaware.
Jaws takes place in the fictional New England town of Amity. The first film was filmed on Martha's Vineyard.
Ellen: "In Amity you say yahd." Martin: "They're out in the yahd, not too fah from the cah. How was that?" Ellen: "Like you're from New York."
Roy Scheider makes a rookie mistake in saying "yadd" instead of "yahd." Which actually makes sense, since Martin isn't actually from the Cape.
On Golden Pond - set in rural New Hampshire and actually filmed there on beautiful Squam Lake.
And The Town takes place in Charlestown, another Boston neighborhood. Maybe we should just rename this trope Ben Affleck New England.
There is a line in one trailer for The Town that the Boston-based SlashFilmcast couldn't let pass without comment. Apparently, there are "over 300 bank robberies in Charlestown" every year. Which means that we should be hearing about at least one bank robbery per day.
What About Bob? was set in rural New Hampshire but actually filmed in southwest Virginia.
The Perfect Storm, though Gloucester, Mass. doesn't actually figure much in the story.
The Cold War comedy The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming takes place on a fictional island off Gloucester.
Summer of '42 is set on Packett Island, a fictionalized version of Nantucket.
In the Bedroom is set in coastal Maine.
Tom Hanks in Catch Me If You Can has one of these accents, making his memorable "knawk-knawk" joke all the better. Especially cute in an outtake where he tries to speak with a mouthful of food, flubs the line and says "But you could hear the accent, right?"
It's never 100% clear where Animal House is set, but the college all the characters attend is known to be based on Dartmouth, New Hampshire.
Me, Myself & Irene was basically about a road trip from Rhode Island to Vermont. Unlike most movies filmed about the area, the filming locations were actually in Rhode Island and Vermont (not Massachusetts, which was odd, since there is no easy way to drive from Rhode Island to Vermont without passing through it). In fact, avoiding Massachusetts means driving the long way through Connecticut, and then the long(er) way through New York.
Outside Providence takes place, well, in the suburbs of Providence, Rhode Island. Despite being written by famed local directors Peter and Bobby Farrelly (of Dumb and Dumber fame), and based off of Peter's 1988 autobiographical novel, it actually wasn't directed by them as often assumed, but by Micheal Corrente.
In Ronald Colman's one Academy Award-winning film, A Double Life, he has an affair with a coffee shop waitress (Shelley Winters' film debut) who tells him that he sounds like Baaston.
A Summer Place is set primarily at the titular locale, an upscale Maine island resort.
Scooby-Doo! and the Witch's Ghost is set primarily in a Hollywood New England town. Complete with accents, autumn foliage, legends of witch trials, and a replica pilgrim village. A major character in the movie is a rather obvious expy of Maine native Stephen King.
Jumanji has the town being located in New England. The film was shot in Keene, New Hampshire (where the film is supposedly set) as well as North Berwick, Maine (the location of the Parrish Shoes Factory).
Beetlejuice was set in the fictional village of Winter River, Connecticut - exteriors were filmed in East Corinth, Vermont.
Dark Shadows takes place in the fictional Maine town of Collinsport (as does the original TV series.)
Epic takes place in the deciduous forests of either Connecticut or New York, Blue Sky Studios' current and former base of headquarters. During the end credits, we see memorabilia from both those states, as well as a few others in New England, like Vermont.
The Heat: The extremely thick Boston accents possessed by Mullins' family results in a humorous scene where one of her brothers asks Ashburn if she's a Narcnote narcotics cop — pronounced "knock" — and she has no idea what he's saying.
Little Women and the rest of Louisa M. Alcott's stories are set in and around her native Concord, Mass. Alcott's father Bronson was a prominent Transcendentalist, a philosophic movement whose leaders — likewise native to the area — also included Thoreau and Emerson. Virtually all of America's great silver age writers were either from or lived in Concord, including Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Nearly all of Stephen King's books are set in Maine, which is perfectly reasonable considering he lives there. In fact, the isolation of its island communities provided the entire plot of Storm of the Century. "According to Stephen King, there's something nasty buried under every small town in Maine."
Amelia Atwater-Rhodes' books in her Nyeusigrube series take place around Massachusetts. In the Forests of the Night takes place specifically in Concord and the main character, Risika's, house is based on a real house where a friend of the author lived. In Persistence of Memory, Erin is given a phone number with Boston Suffolk County's 617 area code.
Almost all of Jodi Picoult's novels take place in New England, usually either Massachusetts or New Hampshire.
Most of John Irving's novels (The World According to Garp, The Cider House Rules, A Prayer for Owen Meany) take place in New England. Write What You Know applies again.
The same holds true for the other well-known "Johns" of mid-to-late 20th century American literature, Cheever and Updike. When their stories weren't set in Manhattan they were generally set here.
Gace Metalious' Peyton Place is set in a small town somewhere in New England. The fictional setting was apparently a composite of several real-life New Hampshire towns in which the author had lived.
The eponymous island in S. M. Stirling's Island in the Sea of Time trilogy is Nantucket. In his Emberverse series it's Ground Zero for the Change (the same event that sends Nantucket back thousands of years in time) and is visited by Rudi and his fellow Questers where he acquires the Sword of the Lady.
The Island, like most of Elin Hildebrand's books, is set near Nantucket, Massachusetts. There's a little bit of both stereotypes, with the Cousins family being part of the wealthy elite, and Barrett Lee and his family being more salt of the earth types.
Live Action TV
Mash had Major Charles Winchester III, a Back Bay-bred Boston Brahmin.
Trapper John McIntyre was also from (a presumably less fashionable part of) Boston. Given his name (in full, John Francis Xavier McIntyre), it's likely he's a Southie, although neither the film nor TV version used that specific accent.
Hawkeye Pierce was supposedly the son of a lobsterman from Crabapple Cove, Maine, though (perhaps wisely) neither Donald Sutherland in the film nor Alan Alda in the series ever attempted a proper downeast accent, though it is mentioned in the original novels. In the TV series his father's profession was changed to doctor.
Thurston Howell III, from Gilligan's Island, spoke with a stereotypical "Larchmont lockjaw" accent.
Murder, She Wrote, set in small-town Maine. Featuring William Windom, Tom Bosley and a slew of random extras using phony Down East accents thick enough that they may qualify as the network-TV version of Dick Van Dyke doing Cockney in Mary Poppins. Bosley's attempts were particularly egregious.
Cheers (or should we say Cheeahs?) was set in Boston Bawstin, though the only character with the accent was Cliff. There was still a fair bit of local color on the show, such as Sam's history with the Red Sox, Carla's fanatical defense of Massachusetts sports teams, and a guest appearances by Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill and a few Kennedys.
Most of the local color can be seen in the background - the producers showed off serious knowledge of Boston minutiae, for instance having extra characters wear shirts from local high schools in the appropriate colors. (There's more than one Somerville High School in this country, after all.)
Not surprising, given that they took a local Boston TV production (WCVB's Park Street Under) and filed the serial number off it without giving any credit to the original creators.
Wings was also set in Massachusetts, but on the tourist island of Nantucket.
Newhart is set in a (highly eccentric) small Vermont town.
Mr. Wick from The Drew Carey Show describes Vermont as "the state that makes New Hampshire nervous".
Stars Hollow, Connecticut in Gilmore Girls definitely fit the small town version of this trope, with the elder Gilmores fitting the upper-class WASP stereotype to a T. And Rory, of course, goes to Yale for much of the later seasons.
As of the end of the second season of Leverage, it looks like there will be a change of scenery like the end of the first season.
Spenser: for Hire was not only set in Boston, it was actually filmed there.
And still fell prey to this trope occasionally. Chase scenes were notorious for starting in one town, turning a corner, and finding the characters miraculously transported to a town on the other side of Boston in a split second.
Jay Leno can't open his mouth without reminding people he's from Andover, MA.
In 30 Rock, Jack Donaghy's love interest Nancy Donovan grew up with him in Boston. Nancy is played by Julianne Moore with a painfully forced Hollywood New England accent.
The exaggerated accent was spoofed in the next season when Liz is writing a TV movie about Jack and Avery, with Nancy played by Cynthia Nixon with an equally horrible Boston accent. When she asks why she has to do the accent, Liz says that all people from Boston sound like that to her.
The whole crew from This Old House but especially Norm Abrams and Tommy Silva.
In NewsRadio, a botched speech therapy session has Lisa speaking in her native Boston accent, which she had dropped for being too embarrassing. It's also implied that it might have been intentional to ruin her radio voice.
Also in the series finale, Jimmy James retires and moves to New Hampshire, and wants to take the rest of the staff with him. In the second to last episode he actually takes a chair and sits down in NH in the middle of a field of cattle.
In a Season 4 episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Sarah Michelle Gellar takes on the role of Faith. She adopts a Boston accent in several scenes, since it was part of the character and due to Eliza Dushku being from Boston.
Several The X-Files episodes are set in New England, both falling victim and averting this trope. It is noted that Mulder grew up on Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts, which averts this trope, but the rest of the episodes set in New England get things wrong. Though they are in completely different parts of New England, none of the characters have distinctive accents, vocabulary, or mannerisms.
One particularly egregious example was the portrayal of Vermont; the season seven episode "Chimera" was set there. The timestamp places the story in early April, and it opens up to an Easter picnic scene. The grass is green, the children are running around in little suits, and it's apparently warm enough that no one needs a jacket. Never mind the fact that in early April in Vermont, the average temperature hovers somewhere around 40 and there is usually a good deal of snow on the ground. And if there isn't snow, it sure as heck isn't green. It's called "mud season" for a reason. This seems rather humorous, since other details like area code and zip code were absolutely correct—according to the episode, the fictional "Bethany, Vermont" is actually Bethel.
On the recurring Saturday Night Live sketch "Boston Teens", starring Jimmy Fallon and Rachel Dratch as Sully and Zazu, a teen couple who fight and makeup constantly and are obsessed with Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra.
When Glenn Close hosted in 1992 they did a game show sketch called "Whats The Best Way?". In it the host and all three contestants were New Englanders and the questions were all about the best way to get from one place in New England to another:
Host: Ok folks, back to our game. From Hartford to Sturbridge -
(Katie buzzes in)
Katie(Glenn Close): Ok, now that's straight on route 84, but you're gonna want to avoid the tourist traps up there, now, if you go up Manhill Road,you'll see a pretty Bed and Breakfast in Bradford - but that's a little out of your way, but it's very reasonable. And there's a farm (fahm) down the hill where you can get fresh Maine blueberries, of course, but that's only in the summer -
(wrong answer buzz)
Host: Sorry Katie, I didn't finish the question. From Hartford to Sturbridge, how many Dunkin Donuts along the way?
Dawson's Creek was set in the fictional town of Capeside, Massachusetts, but actually filmed in North Carolina. The only character that had a New England accent on the show was Jen's grandmother.
Then there's the episode that had them skinny-dipping in November. In Massachusetts.
The '90s drama series Providence was set in that Rhode Island city, and most of outside filming was shot there during its first season. Naturally, the local NBC television station would not shut up about the show for months. By the time of the second season, only establishing exterior shots were shot in Providence and the rest in California.
The North American remake of Being Human is set in Boston but shot in Montreal. And it turns out Montreal is not the best Expy for Boston: the geography is all wrong (their neighborhood could maybe pass for the Back Bay or the South End, but the streets are still too wide). This Boston-resident Troper didn't even realize it was supposed to be set in Boston until he saw the establishing exterior shots.
Season 6 of I Love Lucy had the Ricardos and Mertzes moving from New York City to Westport, Connecticut.
Samantha and Darrin Stephens, of Bewitched, also resided in Westport.
Soap was set in the (fictional) town of Dunn's River, Connecticut, and plays this trope straight - Dunn's River might as well be on Long Island for how much time the characters spend in Manhattan.
The clam-centric episode of Good Eats culminated in production of New England style clam chowder. And had a New Yorker with tomatoes (representing fans of Manhattan-style) and a New Englander with a bottle of cream glare at each other while Alton explained the history of the two variations...before getting into a brawl.
The short-lived '90s Molly Ringwald sitcom Townies was set in Gloucester, Massachusetts.
Due to the fact that WGBH, Boston's PBS affiliate, produces a fair chunk of their programming, many of PBS's syndicated shows are shot in Boston or the surrounding areas.
The first season of Falling Skies is set in Massachusetts and is centered around the National Guard unit the 2nd Mass. By the beginning of the second season they have moved into either western Massachusetts or southwestern Connecticutt, having come to and crossed the Houscatonic River. Later on however they leave New England entirely ending up in Charleston by the end of Season 2.
American Horror Story: Asylum is set somewhere in Massachusetts in the Sixties. Some characters have comically thick accents and Provincetown is mentioned so probably somewhere on the South Shore or Cape Cod.
This Old House is based in Boston, and they seem to do a lot of houses in the area. Just sayin'.
Southie Rules is set is South Boston.
The paranormal investigation team TAPS featured in the reality television series Ghost Hunters is based in Warwick, Rhode Island.
The Fools, best known for their classic: "Life Sucks, Then You Die."
"Wicked Little Critta" by They Might Be Giants plays with the accent, as does "A Self Called Nowhere." Although the band itself is based in Brooklyn, New York, the founding members, John and John, grew up in Lincoln, Massachusetts.
While the '60s garage-rock classic "Dirty Water" has become an iconic Boston anthem, the band that recorded it (the Standells) were actually based out of L.A. (The song was actually written by their producer, Ed Cobb.)
Johnathan Richman is from Natick, part of Greater Boston, and his best known song, "Roadrunner" is about driving around the city listening to your car radio (and when we say "around", we mean that literally: the song's subject is Massachusetts Route 128 which is apart of the beltway that bypasses Boston). He seems to use the accent too, to judge by his reference to "the Southern sho-ah".
Interestingly enough, while the band operated out of Boston, bandleader Ric Ocasek hailed from Baltmore, moved to Cleveland where he met Ohioan Benjamin Orr (bass/vocals), then they moved to Boston, where they met Brooklyn native Elliot Easton and Fulton, Maryland native Greg Hawkes (keyboards), both attending Boston's Berklee College of Music. Only drummer David Robinson hails from the Boston area.
Mighty Mighty Bosstones
The Shaggs, who pronounce every word with 'ome' in it as 'om'. Naturally this means they "have no time to rom" and "have to go hom" regularly.
Arguably the ultimate example: none of them were from Vermont, the state they're most associated with, and only one of them is even from New England. They're controversial in the state itself for propagating a certain view of the state as a hippie paradise, which is often at odds with the reality of the situation.
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals
Several noteworthy Metalcore bands: Killswitch Engage, The Acacia Strain, and Shadows Fall among them.
Worth noting is that Boston has the Berklee College of Music, one of the most respected music schools in America the world.
The 80s punk compilation album "This is Boston, Not LA"
Much of the comic strip Non Sequitur is set in in the fictional town of Whatchacallit, Maine.
One FoxTrot strip had Peter and Jason deciding to adopt this accent while eating clam chowder, with Peter even saying "Pahk the cah in tha Hahvahd Yahd" in the throwaway panels. They stop upon threat of violence from Paige.
In a modern twist on the intellectual side, both halves of the radio comedy team Bob & Ray were born and raised in Massachusetts — in middle-class Boston and blue-collar Lowell respectively — and sounded like it. (In one early Boston-based show they do a funny bit on how to impress a local waitress by pretending you're from out of town. Their main suggestion is to "hit your 'R's verry harrd." "Yerss, I will have some erggs and orrange juice, please!")
The Magliozzi brothers of NPR's Car Talk. East Cambridge natives, auto mechanics...and both graduates of MIT.
One of the recurring characters in the "Allen's Alley" segments on The Fred Allen Show in the '40s was Titus Moody, a curmudgeonly New Englander with a thick "Down East" type accent.
Jim Rome loves to play this up on his radio show, particularly involving one of two things: Pete Gillen's "Duke is Duke" comment ("They're on TV more than Leave It To BEAHVAHHHH!... reruns."), or his favorite movie, Good Will Hunting ("Let's go beat up some rich kids-AAAAAAAAHH!").
The play Spike Heels (a Pygmalion Plot set in Boston) benefits significantly if the actors (and the audience) understand the difference between upper- and working class Boston accents.
Almost, Maine makes a point of distinguishing rural, northern Maine, where the play is set, from the common "Down East" stereotype of the state.
Our Town by Thornton Wilder is set in southern New Hampshire, but does not use the exaggerated traits discussed above for this trope. It's just a small town at the turn of the last century.
The setting of Carousel is a Maine fishing village.
The Commonwealth, mentioned in passing in Fallout 3, is implied to be based in Massachusetts. Or at least the Boston area. It's also mentioned, however that aside from its Institute, it's not much better off than the Capital Wasteland.
Trauma Team doesn't outright state their exact location, but recognizing some towns and areas they name puts them in Portland, Maine.
The Lovecraft-inspired Eternal Darkness takes place primarily on (or under) the grounds of the Roivas family estate in Rhode Island.
Shattered Union has a faction called the New England Alliance which composes Northern New England, New York, and Ohio Valley territories.
It is also published weekly in Seven Days, the local Burlington alternative weekly newspaper.
The 21st century parts of The Dreamer are set in Boston, MA.
Misfile is an exception to "western Massachusetts doesn't exist". The fictional town of Tempest is somewhere in the Berkshires, not that far from Springfield. However other than a few references to Boston and one trip to Cape Cod, the comic could take place anywhere since the New England setting doesn't much figure into the story, and no one ever uses any New England colloquialisms.
Something Positive takes place mainly in Boston, with side trips to Texas since that's where two of the three main protagonists originate from. Since Davan moved to Texas to take care of his father this has been flipped.
New England is its own country in the Alternate HistoryDecades of Darkness, where it also encompasses the Canadian Maritimes, New York, New Jersey and Michigan. It plays the socially liberal, democratic/socialist foil (apart from a brief period of vitalism) to the US, which serves as The Empire.
In "Boston Chahams Cereal", which parodies Lucky Charms. Lucky is replaced with a baseball kid named "Mickey the Masshole". He takes Bobby and Sandy on a fountain of Sam Adams into a cartoonish Boston. Marshmellows include "Chowdah, Sox and Wahlbergs, a hand flipping the bird, pints of Samuel Adams, and Jeter sucking A-Rod's dick." For the Adjacent to This Complete Breakfast shot, they show a bowl of Boston Chahms next to a side of beans, a pint of Guinness, and a pile of Boston Creme donuts.
The Hardly Working video "Federal Maashals" features the College Humor office being raided by two Federal Marshals with incomprehensible Boston accents. The go around the office shouting "GO SAAHX" (Boston Red Sox), humming their theme song, asking David and Sarah confusing questions and beating other people up. Hilarity Ensues.
Bob Chipman, aka MovieBob, occasionally slips into his native Boston accent, particularly when he's angry (such as when The Dark Knight didn't get an Oscar nominations), and even normally he will occasionally drop his Rs when speaking.
Whateley Academy is located outside the fictional town of Dunwhich, NH, which is supposedly somewhere near the real town of Berlin, but the setting is Lovecraft Country, not Hollywood New England.
Pete White from The Venture Bros.. Series co-creator Jackson Publick claims to have copied the character's voice entirely from his own father.
Family Guy also takes place in New England- specifically Rhode Island, or RhoDYlan as the natives call it. Peter and Lois have prominent Rhode Island accents. Indeed, the show's creator, Seth MacFarlane, is a Connecticut native and went to college in Rhode Island. Seth based Peter's voice on a portly Rhode Island police officer he got into a situation with while at art and design college.
Though Peter pronounces Pawtucket wrong, the locals pronounce it "Puhtuckit"
Special mention goes to Mr. Bottomtooth, who does to this accent what Boomhauer does to the Texan accent.
The skyline that can very often be seen from the Griffins' front yard? It's the skyline of Providence. Peter, Cleveland and Quagmire standing in front a building Peter's about to jump off of because he's temporarily immortal in "Death Is a Bitch"? That's Kennedy Plaza, overlooking the Rhode Island School of Design and Brown University!
Although set on the Great Barrier Reef, the stereotypical Bostonian accent appears in Finding Nemo courtesy of a lobster (a New England culinary staple) who relates part of the tale of the fishes' adventure ("...and so they go all the way down into the dahk, it's like wicked dahk down theah...") The director, Andrew Stanton, is native from Massachusetts.
"Hayeh, hayeh, hayeh, hayeh, hayeh!"
In Futurama, Elzar's accent is, contrary to popular belief, a New Bedford (Bedfid) or 'Fawl Rivah' accent. Elzar is, of course, ethnically Neptunian, but apparently hails from Massachussets anyhow. He is supposed to be an Emeril Lagasse expy.
As mentioned below, The Simpsons has Mayor Quimby and his family, Kennedy parodies all. One episode has Quimby's nephew Freddy harassing a French waiter over his pronunciation of "chowder". "Shau-dere? Shau-dere? It's 'chowdah'! Say it right!"
New England is very proud of its claym chowdah. Unlike that inferior Manhattan kind.
The same accent is used to great effect by the JFK clone in Clone High, which is strange, considering that his foster parents who raised him from birth aren't from New England. They're a male gay couple with somewhat generic American accents. In one episode, JFK is in a Pygmalion Plot to turn the Gandhi clone into a fellow ladykiller, and the most important aspect of that seems to be mastering the New England accent.
Fo-uh suppah, I, er, uh, wanna pahty platter-uh!
In The Mighty B!, one time character Sissy Sullivan has a stereotypical Boston accent.
Sissy: Pahk tha cah in Hahvahd Yahd.
But also subverted in the sense that Bessie's knowledge of Boston is based on hilarious Critical Research Failure: She's uncertain if Boston is even part of the United States and if they speak English there, and takes it for granted that they don't have Chinese restaurants.
One episode of Ugly Americans had the amoeba in Mark's group accompanied by a thick-accented green amoeba with a Red Sox cap.
The Iron Giant takes place in coastal Maine, but none of the characters sport anything like an actual Downeast accent.
Making Fiends takes place in the town of Clamburg, a coastal town that used to be a tourist hotspot for its clams. It's since been taken over by a little girl and her homemade demons. There are still Puritans in that town; Malachi and his family. The protagonist/antagonist(?) is Charlotte, a happy-go-lucky girl from Vermont.
John F. Kennedy, of course, and his broad and varied extended family. Also various parodies, notably his Simpsons counterpart, Diamond Joe Quimby, and the teenage JFK clone in Clone High.
The mayor of thaCittaBossun, Thomas "Mumbles" Menino. During the Boston Marathon Bombings and the aftermath people from all over the world were introduced to his completely incomprehensible way of speaking and had to be assured by their Bostonian friends that he always sounds like that.
Marshal Dodge, the Maine comedian and brains behind the comedy ensemble Bert & I whose catchphrase "You can't get theyah from heyah" (You can't get there from here) gets referenced nearly as often as Hahvahd Yahd.
Boston comedian Jimmy Tingle, who famously responded to "Can you say 'Pahk the Cah in Hahvahd Yahd'" with "What are you, retahded?" (Pron: "Whad' ah ya, retahded?")
Chris Bojalian, author of books like Midwives, lives in Vermont. Many of his books are set in fictional Vermont towns. He also has a column in the local Burlington newspaper, The Burlington Free Press.
Howard Frank Mosher, author, lives in and sets most of his books in the northeast corner of Vermont.
Frank Miller, the man behind graphic novels like 300 and Sin City, was raised in Montpelier, Vermont.
Jay Craven, film director and screenwriter, is from Vermont. One of his first films was the above Vermont native Howard Frank Mosher's book A Stranger in the Kingdom.
Grace Potter, singer (and her band, The Nocturnals), are from Vermont. She just did a duet with Kenny Chesney recently.
Joseph Smith, founder of Mormonism, was from Vermont.
M. Emmett Walsh, actor, was raised in rural Vermont.
The band Phish was formed at the University of Vermont.
Samuel Clemens, aka 'Mark Twain', was born in Missouri and became famous in California, but actually spent most of his life living in Connecticut. The "If you don't like the NE weather, just wait five minutes" quip is one of his.