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Useful Notes / North Carolina

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The Tarheel State

"I suppose more than anything, it's the way of life in this part of the country that influences my writing. In Eastern North Carolina, with the exception of Wilmington, most people live in small towns."

One of the original Thirteen Colonies, the State of North Carolina supplied one-third of the soldiers and much of the industrial resources during the period of the Confederacy, and still has a strong industrial base. Geographically, North Carolina includes many types of terrain across its 560-mile (901-km) width—from beaches, coastal plains, and swamps in the east, through the rolling hills of the Piedmont and the Uwharrie Mountains in the center, to the highest peaks of the Appalachian Mountains in the west.

Some of the rural parts conform to Deep South or Appalachia stereotypes, but its largest city, Charlotte, is the second largest banking center in the United States. North Carolina also has the Research Triangle (the Raleigh-Durham area), home of one of the largest university research centers in the world and an important center of the bio-tech industry. Research Triangle is not to be confused with the Piedmont Triad (Greensboro/Winston-Salem/High Point) which is 90 miles to the west and known for manufacturing furniture and textiles. The state public university system is one of the best in the nation, and its private schools include Duke University and Wake Forest University. The impact has been felt in politics: long considered a lock for the Republicans (and before that, a lock for the Democrats) in presidential elections, North Carolina has become the quintessential battleground state in the Old South since the late 2000s having barely just voted Democrat Barack Obama in 2008, Republican Mitt Romney in 2012, and going with Donald Trump by very slim margins in 2016 and 2020 respectively. As a result, North Carolina has come to symbolize the 'New South'.


North Carolina can also claim that its citizens were the first to proclaim independence from Great Britain, as two counties did so in 1775. (The dates are on the state flag.) Possibly most widely known for being the state that the Wright Brothers took their historic flight from Kitty Hawk (it's on their license plate and state quarter, in case you forget). North Carolina residents are also known as 'Tarheels', which is where the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill takes its team name (Tar Heels) from. Speaking of which, the vitriol of the Duke–UNC basketball rivalry can never be understated; at least one weatherman in the area has been known to describe a blue sky as being a shade precisely between Duke blue and Carolina blue, and one U.S. Representative who is a diehard Carolina fan remarked in 2012, "I have said very publicly that if Duke was playing against the Taliban, then I'd have to pull for the Taliban."note 


Wilmington, arguably North Carolina's most prominent coastal city, is the home of the largest film and television production studio outside of California, the EUE/Screen Gems facilitynote note  (though it's not 'East Coast Hollywood' just yet), which produced Dawson's Creek, One Tree Hill, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990), Muppets from Space, and The Crow.note  Wilmington is also notable outside entertainment as the hometown of Michael Jordan.note In recent years, Winston-Salem has also become a popular site for filmmakers, especially up-and-comers, thanks to being home to the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and its School of Film. Colonial-era capital city New Bern is considered to be the birthplace of Pepsi-Cola, though the company only seems to care about that when marketing the beverage to this particular state. Asheville, nestled in a river valley in the middle of the Appalachians, has gained a reputation in recent years as a New Age mecca, and is also a major center for Appalachian folk art.

The state is an odd mix of very rural and very urban areas, enough that a metropolitan City could be found right next to an Everytown, America-esque small town.

The state is also known for its divisive politics, being considered a purple state, being subject to a lot of Gerrymandering, and being ridiculed by other states for it. That's all we have to say about that.

Works set in North Carolina

  • American Horror Story: Roanoke is set in Roanoke, site of the famous Lost Colony.
  • The Andy Griffith Show is set in Mayberrynote  and shows up on TV listings often for anyone who still watches cable. Its After Show, Mayberry R.F.D., was also set there.
  • Blue Velvet is a mystery film set in Lumberton.
  • Bull Durham is an 80's sports/romance film set in Durham and based around the minor league baseball team.
  • The Campaign is set in the fictional town of Hammond.
  • Cape Fear is a thriller about a lawyer who's family is threatened by a convicted rapist he had a hand in convicting. New Essex is not a real place, but Cape Fear is the name of a major river that runs through to Wilmington, as well as the point where the river meets the Atlantic.
  • Cold Mountain: an American Civil War flick about a girl who must survive on her own after her father's death, whilst her boyfriend deserts his position in the CSA army to search for her.
  • Eastbound & Down: The first two seasons are set in the real-life town of Shelby.
  • Eyeborgs, a Syfy Channel Original Movie about a futuristic Big Brother dystopia, took place in Winston-Salem.
  • The Famous Jett Jackson: Jett Jackson moves over to the fictional Wilsted, North Carolina to lead a more normal life.
  • The Foot Fist Way takes place in a small North Carolina town, and was filmed in Winston-Salem and Concord.
  • Goodbye Solo, an independent film festival darling, takes place in Winston-Salem and Blowing Rock.
  • Hell-Bent Fer Heaven is a play that takes place in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
  • Judge Knott is a murder mystery series set in a mythical version of Johnston County.
  • Junebug never specifies where in North Carolina it's set, but since one character works for Replacements, Ltd, it most likely takes place in or around the Greensboro/Burlington area.
  • Kiss the Girls is yet another crime thriller, this time set in Durham. Starting to see a pattern?
  • The Reality Show Lizard Lick Towing took place in Lizard Lick. Yes, there really is a Lizard Lick.
  • Logan Lucky: the heist takes place at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, during the Coca Cola 600 NASCAR race.
  • My Brother and Me takes place in Charlotte.
  • Nell takes place in a remote cabin somewhere in the Appalachian Mountains.
  • One Tree Hill took place in the fictional town of Tree Hill, which bears a strong resemblance to Wilmington. It was also filmed there, so not a big surprise.
  • Polandball has had the state make appearances as itself. There is a Wiki page as well.
  • Stark Love, a film created by someone with a pretty strong hate of Appalachian people, takes place here and bases itself on negative stereotypes of people from this area. It came out in The Roaring '20s, after all.
  • Safe Haven and several other Nicholas Sparks books are set here.
  • Top Gear did an episode in series fifteen that started at Grandfather Mountain on the Blue Ridge Parkway. They then went to North Wilkesboro Speedway to learn a little NASCAR history before heading out of state.


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