As anyone who has been to New Orleans can tell you, there is some weird, wonderful mojo going on there, with plenty of haunted tours, haunted hotels, haunted just-about-everything to prove it. While the historic city is a beautiful, vibrant and eclectic place with architecture that already looks like a Hollywood set, for whatever reason it hasn't been an ideal destination for TV shows.
Though NOLA has been at the front and center of HBO's Treme and countless other shows and movies (including, perhaps most memorably, Interview with a Vampire and A Streetcar Named Desire), there hasn't been a bona fide television hit in the Big Easy. That could all change in the coming weeks and months as three high-profile shows will call N'awlins home.
This fall, Top Chef will finally head to NOLA -- one of the food capitals of the world -- for their 11th season, while Coven, the next chapter of American Horror Story, will get bewitched in the voodoo-friendly Crescent City. (Seriously, though, between the famous cuisine and chefs that have come out of New Orleans and the hundreds of years of haunting mythology, how in the world did Top Chef and AHS not already spend all their time down there?)
Joining Top Chef and AHS in NOLA this season is the eagerly anticipated Vampire Diaries spin-off The Originals. Again, it's only fitting that a vampire-inspired series would find its way to the land of Anne Rice and gothic cemeteries and Nicolas Cage. With all three of these shows, the city won't just be a backdrop, but a character vital to the storytelling and execution. Same goes for other upcoming shows including the CW's teen-friendlyStar-Crossed, the A&E drama Occult, and the Emmy-bait HBO mini-series True Detective. (The latter are slated for the 2014 television season).
But will the haunted New Orleans be able to break its television curse with these shows, or will its presence on the small screen remain a troubling mystery? Let's take a look back at NOLA's TV track record and determine if the town truly is cursed:
Treme: As previously mentioned, if there's any show that's synonymous with New Orleans, it's David Simon's post-Katrina drama Treme. While it isn't as culturally significant as Simon's previous effort The Wire, it is, perhaps the most honest depiction of the city, particularly after the 2005 hurricane that ravaged the area. The series follows the lives of musicians (music plays a big part -- much like it does in New Orleans itself -- and has featured famed musicians from the region), law officials, chefs, bartenders and various other residents who make the city what it is. While the show has never been an awards or ratings behemoth (Simon knows a thing or two about that), HBO clearly believed in the show and gave it a fourth, albeit abbreviated, and final season.
K-Ville: Fox'sK-Ville technically beat Treme to the punch in terms of chronicling life in the Big Easy post-Katrina. (K-Ville debuted back in 2007, while Treme started in 2010). But the drama, about two New Orleans officers (played by Anthony Anderson and Cole Hauser), policing the city after the storm didn't connect with viewers or critics -- it was canceled after just one season. On the bright side, you can watch that season on Hulu.
The Real World:Look, as far as I'm concerned, there was one season of The Real World: New Orleans and one alone: the great 2000 season. I'm sure the kids who inhabited the 2010 iteration were perfectly nice (wait, what am I talking about? They probably were not) but no one tops Melissa, Jamie, Julie, Kelley, Matt, Danny and David. Rivaled only by the Seattle, Boston, original San Francisco and original New York seasons, the first The Real World: New Orleans is my pick for the reality franchise's best installment. Not only did it introduce a generation of viewers to the melting pot culture of NOLA (not to mention the lure of getting tanked on Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras), but it gave us the greatest piece of music to ever come out of the region: David's "Come On Be My Baby Tonight."
Frank's Place: The CBS comedy about a professor (played by Tim Reid) who inherits a restaurant in New Orleans is one TV's great shows that never was. It was a critical hit and remains the only show to be nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series that was canceled after just one season. Long considered to have been canceled far too soon, it could have served as a NOLA entertainment landmark, but alas, it was sent to the TV graveyard back in 1988.
Orleans, The Big Easy, Longstreet: Just like Frank's Place and K-Ville, these three NOLA-set dramas were all given one measly season before being canceled.
True Blood: While the campy HBO saga is set in Louisiana, the Big Easy didn't make an appearance on the show until Season 4 as the headquarters of the American Vampire League. (Naturally). While it gave NOLA some long-overdue exposure on the hit cable series, Season 4 is also around time when True Blood began to seriously decline.
The Originals premieres on Thursday, October 3 at 9 PM ET on The CW and could very well put New Orleans on the television landscape map faster than you could say "Who dat?" Same goes for Top Chef, which premieres on Wednesday, October 2 at 10 PM ET on Bravo and American Horror Story: Coven on Wednesday, October 9 at 10 PM ET on FX.
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