Take a Vacation In The Glades

The Glades, Sunny with a chance of murder
Sunny with a chance of murder…
I like The Glades, but most of the people I talk to around South Florida don’t. They tell me “the main actor’s a goof” or “the FDLE doesn’t really work that way.” Yeah, because burned spies really get away with running around blowing up parts of Miami every week and DNA testing moves as fast as it does on the CSI shows. And let’s not point out the fact that when Miami Vice was on air, Miami Beach was hardly a glamorous place to hang out.

Part of the reason I like The Glades IS the hokey factor. I like that Jim Longworth, played by Matt Passmore, seems to think he’s cool, but comes off as kind of a dork. I mean, he might be able to figure out any murder in a ridiculously short amount of time, but he’s absolutely clueless about what to do with his personal life.

The show also makes good use of the state’s great tradition of oddball or quirky places and people. Miami can be pretty and if you’re looking for sexy people sipping drinks in a gritty, slightly candy-covered atmosphere, Miami-Dade county’s your place. But Cassadaga (the psychic town) and Gibsonton (the circus “freak” town)? Not likely to work with the plot line of Burn Notice, and way out of CSI Miami’s jurisdiction.

The original lobster boy, one of the carnival freaks who wintered in Gibsonton, Florida.
Grady Stiles, aka The Lobster Boy, a resident of old-time Gibsonton.
Which is not to say The Glades is necessarily filming in all those places. Given the frequency with which I see some of my personal haunts featured on the show, I’d guess they mostly stay around Broward County, which is great for our local economy. Probably cheaper for the producers, too. There’s a local place that rents movie lights, a studio with semi-permanent sets in one of the suburbs, and apparently Hollywood (FL), Dania Beach, and Fort Lauderdale have welcomed them with open arms. I suppose it doesn’t hurt that all three still have areas that look a lot like “old Florida.”

In fact, Callie lives in Fort Lauderdale. Okay, the exterior of Callie’s house is near downtown and the interior is mostly on a sound stage. (The house they use happens to have been one of my favorites for years. I’m totally jealous of that fictional nurse.)

Having been to the real Gibtown, I can understand why they used downtown Fort Lauderdale as a stand-in for the “Gibtown” episode. The real town is several hours away from their studio and the doesn’t look at all the way it must’ve in its heyday. The original “freaks” who wintered there are mostly dead, including the “mule-face” woman, Grace McDaniels, and Grady Stiles, known as Lobster Boy. The old Giants [sic] Camp and Restaurant is closed. The place doesn’t have much of a centralized downtown, and the rural houses just aren’t that cinematic. (It’s still cute, but I guess it doesn’t film well.)

The real house used in The Glades as the home of Dr. Thornquist
Not Dr. Thornquist, Philemon Nathanial Bryan
Besides, they use downtown Fort Lauderdale for quite a bit of filming. Dr. Thornquist’s house is a few doors down from my favorite coffee shop, which showed up in their hurricane episode last season. And the historic center is convenient and smacks of quaint old Florida charm. Watching that episode also explains why there’s now soot all over the replica school near the museum. Turns out the week that end of the block was shut down for filming, a resident of “Gibtown” set fire to it

So, if you’re if you need another dose of Florida to keep you busy between Michael Weston’s adventures, or are a fan of the just plain wacky, check out The Glades. (A&E has free full episodes on the show’s website.) I’m still keeping my fingers cross that someone gets murdered in an imaginary version of Weekie Wache or Tarpon Springs.

Neliza Drew is a tofu-eating teacher and erratic reader with a soft spot for crime fiction. She lives in the heat and humidity of southern Florida with three cats and her adorable Hubby. She listens to way too much music, writes often, and spends too much time on Twitter (@nelizadrew).


  1. Terrie Farley Moran

    Thanks for this post. I really enjoy the Glades but cannot find a lot of folks who watch it. You are right about the sites in Florida that make wonderful locations for wacky murder–on the west coast, Matlache and Warm Springs in Northport come immediately to mind. And you nailed Jim Longworth’s personality–it is part of the overall charm of the show.

  2. Neliza Drew

    I found out over the weekend that my stepmother loves the show.
    And, yes, for me Florida’s charm hinges on its backwater weirdness far more than the glitz and glamour. I prefer the retirees sipping wine in front of the old condos on Hollywood beach over the socialites. Places like Two Egg and Everglades City are just way more interesting than the night clubs.

  3. Clare 2e

    Count me in, too! I started watching it last season and I really like it.

  4. Barb

    Enjoyed your article and our conversation. Thanks a bunch. By the way, you are a delightful writer.

  5. Aimee

    I love me some Glades. And you know, people are always going to whine about what they see as “inaccuracies” in their local area.

    I always get a giggle about how wrong tv shows have always shown the DC Metro area.

    But … it’s a television show, not a map or encyclopedia. Laugh it off and enjoy the big goof who can’t see the forest for the palm trees.

  6. Neliza Drew

    @Barb Thanks.

    I find I’m far less annoyed (amused, rather than annoyed) with The Glades than I get with Burn Notice. (I’m trying to be less annoyed with that one because Campbell and Gless amuse me.) I can’t quite figure out why. It might have something to do with how seriously the MCs seem to take themselves and the plots. Perhaps if I move back to a palm-free climate, I’ll be able to watch them all and pretend I’m on vacation.

  7. Saundra Peck

    As a teen in the 80’s, I rode my horse through the Cassadaga cemetery and worked at the Cassadaga Hotel!!!! Oh, how I watched that episode HOPING to see the real place, but no such luck… oh well, it was still a treat. I grew up to be a police officer, and I can tell you that ALL crime shows are far from real…if only we had the imaginary tools…but this show is so cool that I watch JUST to see where they will go next!!! Every state has it’s treasures, glad that FL is getting to show some of hers…

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