Five Fictional Towns I Want to Live In

I have a deep and abiding love of small towns full of weirdos. My favorite media (from books to movies to TV shows) revolve around tiny villages and close-knit hamlets filled with manipulative dwarves with a God complex, pretty bush pilots, and Kirk. Based on the sheer number of Hallmark movies set in similarly small, quirky towns, I’m guessing I’m not the only one who wants to pack my stuff and move to a fictional city.

I did the next best thing and moved to a real-life small town full of eccentric characters, charming gathering spots, and rogue livestock who seem to wander the streets with impunity. (Seriously, our town Facebook group is full of alerts about escaped cows and renegade goats, as well as the occasional flock of chickens taking over a tennis court.) For years, I’ve said my dream would be to live in some village in England (also acceptable: Ireland and Scotland) with thatched-roof cottages (think Kate Winslet’s house in “The Holiday”) where I can walk into the local pub on any given night, catch up on the local gossip and then stumble home free of fear from all but the coziest of murders.

If I believed in “The Secret,” I might say I manifested my dream of small-town living without realizing I was doing it. I can walk to our local cidery — though I tend not to during these long, dark winter nights — and hear all about the rodeo a longtime local property owner is dreaming up (and also the “Birds for Sale” sign that said property owner put up in the window of one of his vacant buildings). Sure, we may not be as quaint as a village in the Cotswolds, but what is, really?

Then I stumbled upon HGTV’s “Townsizing” podcast. I was, of course, immediately in… and found myself yelling back at the podcast as one guest talked about wanting to find a diverse, walkable small-town. “BRATTLEBORO, VERMONT!” I shouted, though no one could hear me except for my dogs. For some reason, all the talk of charming little towns got me thinking about the many fictional towns I’ve encountered in my 41 years, and which ones I would most want to live in. Here’s where I landed:

Gravesend, New Hampshire from “A Prayer for Owen Meany”

80 Front Street: If you know, you know.

I am a known Irving-head and it all started when a Barnes & Noble employee looked at my summer reading list and told me that if “A Prayer for Owen Meany” wasn’t the best book I’d ever read, I could come back and hit her with it. (She went unassaulted.) Most of the book takes place in Gravesend, New Hampshire (based on Exeter) in the 1940s – 1960s. In fact, many John Irving books place take place in some version of the town where he grew up. He’s not the only writer to call Exeter home; Joe Hill and Dan Brown both live there now. I don’t know if it’s the prep school or the fancy bean-to-bar chocolate shop, but writers really seem to love that town.

So, this summer, I made a pilgrimage to Exeter. These days it’s a bougie town filled with preppies who look like they somehow got their yachts up the Swampscott and are now in search of craft beer. But based on what Lara Bricker of the Crime Writers On podcast says (and writes) about her adopted hometown, I’m guessing it’s still a quirky place. I digress, though, as we’re talking about Gravesend, not Exeter. So… let me count the ways I love the home of wee, lil’ Owen and his best friend Johnny Wheelwright.


  • Has a thriving community theater scene
  • Tolerant of eccentric locals
  • Harriet Wheelwright is the O.G. dowager countess
  • Home to the possible second coming of Christ


  • Streets are not safe for roving labradors
  • Even the congregationalist clergy is full of creeps
  • Little League games can get a bit scary
  • Home to the possible second coming of Christ

Cicely, Alaska from “Northern Exposure”

When I was in college, my physics class was across the street from my dorm. So I would sit on my futon watching reruns of my then-favorite show, “Northern Exposure,” before sprinting to class when the credits rolled. It’s a classic fish-out-of-water tale that follows Dr. Joel Fleischman from Flushing, Queens as he goes to pay back his student loans by serving as the doctor for tiny Cicely, Alaska. Even as a (slightly odd) teenager, I wanted to move to Cicely and hang out at The Brick with Dr. Joel, eat a moose burger cooked up by Holling, chat about old movies with Ed, and talk philosophy with Chris. I could probably do without the blowhard Maurice, but in small towns, you have to take the good with the bad.

Living in a close-knit small town is not unlike having your own tribe.


  • Pretty decent medical care for such a tiny burg
  • Being surrounded by the great Alaskan wilderness
  • Feminist AF Maggie O’Connell and I can be friends
  • “Chris in the Morning” should win all the broadcasting awards
  • Marilyn


  • Shameless capitalist despot Maurice Minnefield
  • The spring thaw seems like a tough time for everyone
  • Dr. Joel’s constant whining
  • Cold and dark AF for most of the year

Stars Hollow, Connecticut from “Gilmore Girls”

Do I even have to explain Stars Hollow? If you’re a Millenial woman, the answer is definitely, “Oy, with the Poodles already!” I’ve been to the “real Stars Hollow” and the Gilmore Girls Fan Festival, and I can tell you, there are a whole lot of towns that are more like Stars Hollow than Washington, Connecticut… and I’ve lived in two of them. A friend who was driving through Brattleboro, Vermont met me at The Whetstone (a brewery and restaurant right on the Connecticut River). I walked from my apartment to meet him there, and we were sitting on the roof deck when one of our locals started driving his pontoon boat made up to look like a steamboat and flying the Canadian flag went trolling by. “Do you live in Stars Hollow?” he asked.

Then, years later, I ended up in my current town in North Central Connecticut. Just last week I was at the Cidery when someone told me that an out-of-town friend uttered that familiar question: “Do you live in Stars Hollow?” The answer is always the same, “Not technically, but yeah, kinda.”

Can you imagine Luke dealing with outdoor dining?


  • Takes quaintness to a level not seen since “The Andy Griffith Show”
  • Luke’s Diner (breakfast is my favorite meal)
  • I already live in Connecticut, so it’s an easy move
  • Babette & Miss Patty


  • Taylor Doosey
  • It seems to be completely lost in space (and maybe time), somehow near New London and also Woodbridge
  • In theory, I like the idea of community events, but Stars Hollow may have too many of them
  • Loralei and Rory are totally unhinged

Beartown, Sweden from “Beartown”

Skip the show, the book is better.

Listen, the point of Frederik Backman’s “Beartown” (or its follow-up “Us Against You“) is not to make small-town life seem idyllic. It’s quite the opposite, in fact. Beartown is a bleak place filled with hockey nuts, criminals, and the under-employed. It’s not a happy story, but it is probably one of the more accurate portrayals of life in a secluded place where everyone knows everyone. Benji Ovitch and his badass sisters are among my favorite characters in any book, and I would 100% book a trip to Beartown just to meet them. But could I live there?


  • The Bearskin Pub
  • You can probably see the Aurora Borealis
  • A loosely organized band of criminals with hearts of gold seems like as good a form of government as any
  • As far as sports go, hockey is pretty fun
  • Democratic socialism


  • Pretending I care about sports
  • I’m going to have to take up hunting
  • Seasonal affective disorder seems unavoidable

Dillon, Texas from “Friday Night Lights’

Listen, I know pretty much everyone who lives in Dillon is trying to escape it, but I may be the only person who was cheering when Tim Riggins bought his little plot of heaven, dragged some lawn chairs out there, and had a beer with Tyra. Frankly, owning your own business (Riggins’ Rigs) and a beautiful plot of land is the closest thing you can get to the fabled American Dream and Timmy did it! The rest of the town is a mix of used car salesmen on the verge of a heart attack, attractive young people, strip clubs, and the Taylors (every sane person’s #relationshipgoals). Is that enough to want to move there?


  • Tim Riggins, Vince Howard, and Matt Saracen
  • Tammy Taylor is the single best guidance counselor to ever grace the halls of a high school
  • I’d get to vote in Texas and try to make a difference


  • Texas

Fictional Towns to Avoid

Not all of these towns are entirely fictional, but based on what I know of them from “IT” and “Little Fires Everywhere,” it’s best to avoid them. (Shoutout to Rebecca, who came up with this list!)

  • Shaker Heights, Ohio – Too many Karens per square foot
  • Derry, Maine – Deranged clowns and child orgies abound!
  • Wind Gap, Missouri – Psychotic teens + institutionalized racism = hard pass
  • Twin Peaks, Washington – The owls are not what they seem!!
  • Forks, Washington – Too many teens looking for toxic vampire boyfriends

The Verdict: To Which Fictional Town Am I Moving?

Absolutely everyone I know is going to be shocked to hear the answer is not Stars Hollow. But, much like Rory, I have made my pro-con lists and after much deliberation I am going to choose the underdog.

I have been dreaming about shopping (and picking up my mail) at Ruth Ann’s since the ’90s. Maggie O’Connell may have done more to shape me than anyone in my own family. Frankly, it’s a wonder I didn’t become a bush pilot. I do tend to yell at annoying men much like she does, though. Every time I hear someone recite the Kaddish I think of the episode where an unknown Jew turns up dead and Dr. Fleischman tries to gather enough people to sit Shiva for him. None of this seems like enough reason to move across the continent, but since the town doesn’t exist and I don’t actually have to move, it’s “Cicely or bust!”

Sorry, Tammy. Maybe you, me, and Maggie can have some wine together.

Happy Sunday: Ode to Dan Conner

My boyfriend once told me that, before meeting me for one of our first dates, he asked some friends if the shirt he was wearing made him look like Dan Conner and then changed his shirt. I then told him that Dan Conner is basically the perfect man… (or, at least he was until Coach Taylor came along).

This scene gets me every time.

Anxiously Awaiting Roseanne

I’m almost always the first one up on Saturday mornings–if you don’t count the dog and cat, who are the ones who wake me up–and I spend my alone-time with Roseanne. I make a cup of tea and I cozy up on the couch with the TV Land marathon of one of my all-time favorite shows.

I loved Roseanne from the beginning. It was the first TV show I ever saw where the people were recognizable to me–who behaved, dressed, talked, and just plain lived like the people I knew. I didn’t grow up in a nuclear family where one parent was a therapist and one was a news anchor. (Shout out to the Seavers!) Nor were they architects (the Keatons!) or doctors or lawyers (the Huxtables). My mom waited tables, my grandmother watched me and my cousin, and my grandfather worked shift-work at the paper mill. If there was ever a family that I could imagine living next door to, it was the Conners.  Continue reading

I Am Bootleg Rory Gilmore

You may have noticed a plethora of Gilmores Girls-themed internet posts lately. This is because GILMORE GIRLS IS COMING TO NETFLIX! This is such a big deal that even the New York Times had to get in on the action.

This is one my favorite shows of all times, folks. I love the shit outta that show. I’ve created more than one fellow Stars Hollow groupie in my day. And while this is a show filled with relatable, lovable characters, I feel especially close to Rory…’cause I’m kind of her. Here are the ways I am like Rory Gilmore:

  • We were both born and raised in Connecticut
  • We both grew up with single mothers
  • We are both very close to our grandparents
  • We both got Priuses in college (I bought mine, unlike Rory)
  • We both became journalists
  • We both have blue eyes
  • We both have Asian-American friends who grew up in strict religious households and rebelled

We’re basically the same person. I’ve actually thought about suing the show…but that just doesn’t seem like the Gilmore Spirit.

Anyway, if you haven’t already discovered the wonders of Star Hollow, Connecticut, be sure to binge watch Gilmore Girls ASAP. It is one of the smartest, more literate television shows to even grace the airwaves. And what other show boasts guest appearances by Normal Mailer, Carole King, Christian Amanpour, and Madeleine Albright? NONE!

I’m Fully on Board with the McConaissance/Obsessed with True Detective

I am no small amount of obsessed with True Detective…specifically Matthew McConaughey, who I suspect of being a half-lunatic. Seriously, this guy pulls off crazy eyes like no other! He is also the most convincing functional drunk I’ve ever seen–like, h e even looks like actual alcoholics I know. He’s got the thousand yard stare of someone who isn’t all there down to a T!

But what I’m even more fascinated by is how the internet has completely lost its mind theorizing about the final episode. Here are a few examples:

One Last Wild True Detective Theory Before the Finale

This one about the Lawnmower Mann is soooo long

And a collection of a whole bunch of crazy theories Continue reading

Game of Thrones: The Most Feminist Show on TV

I’ve been meaning to write this post for quite a while, but I’ve been a bad, bad blogger. Please thank my busy life and a desire to get away from computers at 5 o’clock sharp! So here it goes…

I got into the Game of Thrones craze a little late. There had already been a couple of seasons by the time I got around to learning about The Starks and the Dyer Wolves, and the Khaleesi. Like most people, I was immediately hooked. Then the Wendy Davis memes started…

It wasn’t the first time I’d thought about just how feminist a show/book Game of Thrones is, but I did start to consider it more seriously. There are a lot of boobs in Game of Thrones, but there are also a lot of bad ass women. Some of them are evil, most of them are awesome… all of them are worth talking about.  Continue reading

A Mad Dash Through “Under the Dome”

A little over a week ago I saw a commercial for a new mini-series coming to CBS called Under the Dome.  I immediately recognized this as an adaptation of a book I gave to my brother a few years back. Since I’d been struggling my way through a strange Icelandic mystery I thought this was a good excuse to start a new book, and borrowed it from my brother.

The paperback comes in at just over 1,000 pages and I quickly realized I was going to have to make quick work of it if I was going to make it before the miniseries stars on June 24. Luckily, it’s a Stephen King book…and no one keeps you turning the pages like he does. Continue reading

Sad News: Lena Dunham and I Probably Couldn’t Be Friends


The second season premiere of Girls was last night. I haven’t seen it yet, because like all those people The New York Times wrote about last year, I watch the show on HBO GO, not live on TV. But this premiere has the media buzzing again.

They’re talking about the lack of diversity, Lena Dunham’s audacious nudity, and the completely insane depiction of twenty-something sexuality. Yes, Girls certainly gives us plenty to talk about. I just want to chat about why I don’t think I could be friends with Lena Dunham.

Let me start by saying I admire what she’s done professionally — maybe even jealous. She’s obviously smart, funny, and savvy. She cleaned up at the Golden Globe awards last night. But I hate every character she creates. If I ever met Hannah Horvath in person… the mind boggles… I can’t even imagine what venom would spew forth after a drink or two.

Of course, that’s sort of the point, right? Dunham wrote the character to be hard-to-like — though I assume she wants us to ultimately decide to root for her anyway. And so far, I just can’t… Continue reading

Game of Thrones, My New iPad, & Other Things I’m Obsessed with This Week

It’s my first full week back to work since before Christmas, which has the potential to be depressing, but luckily I’ve got some distractions — one of which I am typing on, the other I am watching.

Over the past few months I’ve been considering two purchases: a new laptop and a Kindle. I don’t really need a new laptop, mine works fine, but it’s heavy and traveling with it is a bit arduous. During my last trip to NYC I walked from my hotel to the venue where my conference was. It wasn’t far, and I like to walk, but I was carting a big overnight bag with my giant laptop stuffed in it. I may have dislocated my shoulder. But I just haven’t been able to bring myself to buy the MacBook Air (refurbished, of course) that I had been eyeing.

Continue reading

The Cultural Dog Fight: Violence in the Media

A few weeks back I was watching the Sons of Anarchy season finale with my cousin and her friends, when I quickly put my hands over my dog’s eyes and told her not to look. The guys from SAMCRO had stumbled upon a dog fight — pitbulls were ripping each other apart. We were all aghast, as were the guys from SAMCRO. They even took the losing pitbull home — dog-lover and straight-up-psychopath Tig, saved the dog from the owner who was about to kill it — stitched him up, and now the guys of SAMCRO (murderers all!) apparently have a new club mascot.

Now, let’s be clear: this is a violent show, where minor characters die is ghastly ways all the time, and where major characters often reach heartbreaking ends. In this past season we saw the daughter of a major character get burned alive, and then another major character get his head bashed in while in prison (this after his wife and father died at the hands of “the bad guys” in his beloved club). Yes, we were all horrified by these scenes, but we also cheered when villains finally met their makers at the hands of the people they’d wronged. (Some people even make mildly deranged YouTube videos about it.)

The people in this show are awful human beings who often operate by a “code,” which serves to make them more likable to the audience — which can’t get behind things like killing women and children… or, apparently, dog fighting. This reminded me of a scene in The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien, where a soldier (clearly suffering from PTSD) shoots a water buffalo. We know that this soldier has recently watched his best-friend blown to bits while they are both in-country in Vietnam.

I remember talking about this scene in college. I remember crying while reading it. And mostly I remember arguing with a supremely stupid girl (I also had to fight with her when she insisted “Hills Like White Elephants” is not about an abortion) about how this juxtaposition — the death of the water buffalo vs. the death of the friend — is intended to show us how numb we can be to violence. After all, I cried when the water buffalo died, but barely flinched when the friend was killed.

At least I understood how dumb my reaction was. Continue reading

My Girl Crush on Tia Torres

I have an obsession with Pitbulls & Parolees… Not with the actual dogs and felons, but the Animal Planet reality show that centers around Tia Torres and her Villalobos Rescue Center. I’ve always liked the show but it  really hooked me when Tia decided to relocate her rescue from the deserts of California — where locals weren’t being too friendly — to New Orleans.

Why does the location of the the show matter to me? Well, much like the dogs and people Tia tries to help, New Orleans is a bit of an underdog. It needs help. I’ve often thought that if I was just going to pick up and leave my life, New Orleans is where I’d go. I’ve never been the kind of person who wants to move to a hip, thriving city like Austin or Portland. I would move to a place with potential, that needs the help of people who care. Continue reading