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Hollywood Provincialism

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It's the edge of the world and all of Western civilization
The sun may rise in the east, at least it's settled in a final location
It's understood that Hollywood sells Californication

The United States is a large country of stunning diversity, but the film and television industries are largely confined to one little corner of it: the southern region of California, where Hollywood is. Writers tend to write what they know, and since they know Southern California, the rest of the country will often be inaccurately portrayed as being just like L.A. (And it'll look just like L.A., too.) Often, this happens just because it's cheaper to film in nearby locations than to spend money relocating staff to other parts of the country. Because of this, minute details about other locations tend to get written in media as being just like California, even when it's very different. This trope became especially prominent in American culture in the 1980s, when Los Angeles began to supplant New York City as the "hip" place to be (though that has subsided in the decades since).

This is arguably the reason why It's Always Spring. Also known as Californication, which is the trope namer for a TV show and an album (and its Title Track) by Red Hot Chili Peppers. Especially as a Take That! by residents of the Pacific Northwest. Nonetheless, it can be inverted by having shows that actually are set in Southern California... but filmed in Vancouver.

See also Big Applesauce. Subtrope of Creator Provincialism and of Creator's Culture Carryover, which happens when American media assumes that life and culture in other parts of the world is the same as in the United States. Britain Is Only London, Free State Amsterdam, Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo, and the Eiffel Tower Effect occur when a country is deliberately reduced by the writer to its most iconic city or just one landmark. New York Is Only Manhattan is when one city, New York City, is reduced to one iconic area within it. Contrast Canada Does Not Exist, a weird Canadian inversion of this trope, and Eagleland Osmosis, where the omnipresence of American media leads non-Americans to believe that their country works just like America (or L.A., for that matter).

Not to be confused with California Doubling, which is about using specific parts of California as filming locations to represent specific settings.



  • Devil: Bowden, a detective in Philadelphia, refers to a possible murder as a "187." That's California's criminal code for homicide, not Pennsylvania's. This will not be the first time 187 is mentioned in this article, as it infiltrated into pop culture during LA's turbulent 90's.
  • Knight and Day: Boston-based June says "the I-93." The big interstate going through Boston is I-95. No, 93 goes through downtown Boston.
  • Logan Lucky: In Mellie's first scene, she gives an extended description of her commute in which she repeatedly refers to highways as "the [highway number]", something peculiar to Southern California and not West Virginia. The actress is from Southern California.
    • That particular usage is not unusual in northern California, either, but doesn't seem common outside the state.
  • Real Genius: An inversion; the age of consent in California is implied to be 16 instead of 18.
  • Transformers: Age of Extinction: A notable aversion of the age of consent version.


  • Spock's World: An hilariously odd variant. In a description of Vulcan, "Jim tended to think of it as southern California, but with less rain." note 

Live-Action TV

  • Arrested Development: Inverted in at least one instance. For a series that makes so many specific references to the Orange County area, it's surprising to hear Michael say that he's traveling on "Highway Five" instead of "the Five," as all native Southern Californians would do.
  • Bones: Although this show is set in DC, the characters refer to highway numbers with "the" before the number. No one in DC does this except transplants from Southern California.
  • Castle: In "The Third Man", in Alexis' jealousy over her father's attention, she mentions that her classmate wants him. She then says that she's seventeen, "but she'll be legal in three months!" The age of consent in New York is seventeen.
  • Community: The show is set in Colorado, but the Dean's car has a California plate with "California" replaced with "Drive Safely."
  • Criminal Minds: In "Exit Wounds", the BAU travels to a remote Alaskan town to help the local Sheriff's department catch a spree killer. In real life there is not a single sheriff department in Alaska: their duties are covered by the Alaska State Troopers, who are never mentioned in the episode.
  • Detroit 1-8-7: In the title itself: 187 is the police code for California, not Michigan.
  • Eastwick: Investigations are done by the local Sheriff. In Rhode Island, as well as most New England counties, Sheriffs are ceremonial positions.
  • House: The daughter of a clinic patient tells House that he only has to wait six months until her 18th birthday to have sex with her. In reality, House could have had sex with her a year and a half earlier, as the age of consent in New Jersey is 16.
  • How I Met Your Mother: Pops up from time to time. For example, characters frequently claim the age of consent to be 18, while it's actually 17 in New York.
  • Insatiable: Regina is arrested for sleeping with Brick, who's seventeen. In Georgia, the age of consent is 16. Unlike some other examples, this one is a major plot point.
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: Dennis starts listening to one of his sex tapes in his car, and both present-day Dennis and tape-Dennis panic when the girl says she's only sixteen. That is indeed the age of consent in Pennsylvania, so he wouldn't have gotten in any trouble whatsoever. To be fair, it may just be Dennis's personal limit.
  • Married... with Children: In the very first episode they refer to a local radio station as "K-Rock." That'd be for stations West of the Mississippi. All local radio and TV stations in Chicago (the location of the series) have call signs beginning with a W.note 
  • The Nanny: The show is set in New York, but in one episode Fran is holding a cup from In'n'Out Burger, a restaurant chain that exists only in the southwest U.S.
  • Patriot: A womanizing Luxembourgian detective tells a little girl that he has nothing to say to her until she turns 18. He's obviously intending to say that she has no value until he can have sex with her, but the age of consent in Luxembourg is 16, not 18, as it is in California.
  • Parks and Recreation: Pawnee does not resemble a small town in central Indiana so much as it does an outer suburb of LA. This applies both to its appearance but also the size and overall affluence of the town itself. Also, pretty much nobody has a Hoosier accent.
  • Point Pleasant: It was a big deal in New Jersey that this show was set on the Shore. Then we found out that Hollywood's idea of the Jersey Shore was basically "Southern California, but with lighthouses and boardwalks instead of palm trees."
  • Supernatural: In one episode Dean tackles a man who is stated to be the local District Attorney. The closest thing that Tipton, Indiana (where the episode takes place) has is a Prosecuting Attorney.
  • Veep: In "Oslo," Selina wants her daughter to get married in Europe in order to avoid U.S. community property laws. Divorce is governed by the state of residency, not the jurisdiction where the ceremony is performed. Catherine and Marjorie appear to be New York residents. Unlike California, New York is not a community property state. So this also counts as Hollywood Law.


Video Game


  • Ménage à 3: Appears in one of the standard forms when Isabelle acts seductively toward Zii, and Zii says that she hopes that Isabelle is over 18. The age of consent in Canada is 16. This is a little odd because the comic is normally consistent at averting the trope, maintaining a subtle but distinctive Canadian flavor. Admittedly, this more than likely has more to do with the fact that no one would want to have sex with minors regardless of legal status.
  • Treading Ground:
  • Questionable Content: The newspost below this strip implies that Ellen's about to turn 18. (And it's specifically stated five strips later.) The age of consent in Massachusetts is 16. Later strips in the storyline make it less about legality than Steve just feeling weird about it.

Web Original

  • Cracked: Anything about teen sex seems to rely on Hollywood Provincialism, making British (and others) wonder what the preoccupation with 17-year-olds is.
  • Journal Roleplay: LJ's servers were originally in California; when the Journal Roleplay community was on that site, this was the stated reason that sex games and some horror games had a lower age limit of 18.


  • The Magic Poker Equation: In the past, the game in question will usually be "Five Card Draw." This probably has to do with the fact that it was the only legal form of poker in California for many years. It was supplanted by stud and community card variants in most other places before the end of the 19th century. The explosion in popularity of televised poker tournaments seems to have changed the preference to Texas Hold-Em.

Western Animation

  • American Dad!: At least two episodes feature characters buying Chocodiles at the store. Since the mid-'90s, Chocodiles have only been available on the West Coast (the show is set in Virginia).
  • The Family Guy episode where Peter takes Stewie to Disney World features an Indiana Jones ride. There's one of those in Disneyland, but not in any of the four parks in Florida. The fact that it's less than a day's drive from their hometown in Rhode Island might also count, as Disneyland would be a short drive from the show's studio.

Alternative Title(s): So Calization