This page focuse on a selection of movies and TV shows that occur in the Great Plains or have characters from the Great Plains in them.
Shows set in the Great Plains- a reoccurring theme of tv shows set in the great plains are settings that are rural or farming-oriented, isolated and tightly-knit communities. There is a lot of open space and not many people to fill that space.
Little House on the Prairie- This 1974 reimagining and romanticized/exaggerated view of homestead life varies from the book series it’s based on.
Friday Night Lights-Starting out as a movie (2004), the 2006 show is set in a fictional small rural town in Texas with a high school football team, which is very important to the town. Shows themes of small town community involvement, middle class financial instability leading to multiple jobs, family member's involvment in the Iraq war, high school athletes using steroids, alcoholic kid with absentee parents, religious outreach programs, racial tensions, and a cowboy character.
Jericho- set in small, rural town of Jericho, Kansas after nuclear attacks on 23 cities in the US. Themes of community, belonging vs. outsiders, apocalyptic survival.
Supernatural- two brothers grow up in Kansas and hunt demons and other supernatural beings throughout settings in the Midwest. There are strong ties to family as a theme throughout. Their father's disappearance is catalyst for the action of the show, and their mother's mysterious death as motivation to find other demons. The stereotype of the Midwest as all white is shown and black characters are out of place and easily cast as no good. Shows Midwest gothic-lonely prairies, abandoned farms, and ghost towns to show lack of population.
Deadwood- A modern western historical drama set in Deadwood, South Dakota in the 1870s. Actual diary and newspaper accounts used to create storylines and characters. Creation of a community revolves around gold and economic standards.
Smallville- Set in the fictional town of Smallville, Kansas, it tells the story of how Clark Kent becomes Superman. This idea was originally created in the DC comics universe. Kansas was chosed because of the prevailing themes of family and heartland values shown there represent the best place for Superman to be raised.
Characters from the Great Plains- Characters who come from the Great Plains originally but are set in shows generally in big cities are shown to have stereotypes of rural and farm-life childhoods connected to them, including the outdoors, big families, and horses.
The Big Bang Theory- Penny: from a small town outside of Omaha, Nebraska, where she grew up on a farm. Drug/alcohol abuse common as her brother makes meth and her sister shot her husband while both were drunk. Because she grew up on a farm she is good with tools, shown when she built a tractor engine by herself. She was a junior rodeo champion. Her father always was disappointed she wasn't a son. She was a tomboy growing up because she wanted her father's approval. She is an aspiring actress.
Also from The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon Cooper is from Galveston, Texas, and was raised by his Evangelical Christian mother and redneck father. His mother is mainly idenitified by her religious views, and is staunch in them. He knows a great deal about football because his father took him to games every weekend.
Full House- Aunt Becky: She is described as a typical country girl who loves horses and horseback riding. Grew up on a farm in Valentine, Nebraska, has a big family.
Footloose- set in a small, conservative, Christian town (inspiried by an actual Oklahoma town), where the townspeople are very influenced by the pastor’s opinion. Naïve, simple teens meet with big city knowledgable kid and boundaries are tested. The main conflict is over a law banning school dances. Themes of respecting parents, religious overtones, cooperation shown throughout.
Twister- set in Oklahoma, which is in “Tornado Alley,” which encompasses most of the Midwest but is most concentrated in the Great Plains states, it shows what the intensity of storms on the plains can be like. Portrays hemes of uncontrollable and untamable nature.
Rock of Ages- not set in the Great Plains, but main character Sherri is stereotyped as the fresh-faced and naïve new kid on the block from Kansas.
Dances With Wolves- set in the western frontier in home of the Sioux Indians. Shows conflicts among the Native Americans and US military in the 1800s. A white soldier becomes attached to the tribe and explores the portrayal of Native Americans as "savages" as justification for US military involvment with them. Part of the western genre.
Thelma and Louise- Parts of their road trip go through Oklahoma. Themes of freedom (both reflected in the openness of the land and in the women's behaviro) and gender roles are addressed.
An extensive genre of movies generally set in the last 19th century in the American Old West that dominate the Great Plains genre. They exploded in popularity from the 1930s-60s before waning, and have recently begun to regain popularity in the 2000s. Common themes are manifest destiny, origin stories, conquering of nature and the wild west, and struggling in the desert plains. They also frequently involve outlaws, a self-sacrificing hero, treasure/gold hunting, and resistance to modern change. Some examples include Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Dances With Wolves, True Grit, Hud, and A Fistful of Dollars, just to name a few.