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.
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.)
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).