Illinois on the Small Screen: 10 TV Shows Set in the Prairie State | Television
While television is most often associated with Los Angeles or New York, the Midwest has its fair share of shows set in Chicago or elsewhere in Illinois. Here’s a look at 10 shows set in Illinois — and one show that bucked the trend by filming in the Windy City, but set in the Big Apple.
1. The “Chicago” franchise
“Law & Order” creator Dick Wolf launched a new family of NBC shows in 2012 with “Chicago Fire,” followed by “Chicago PD” in 2014 and “Chicago Med” in 2015. There was also “Chicago Justice,” though it only lasted for one season, in 2017. All four shows are set and filmed in Chicago, using real streets, buildings, and other sites as filming locations.
2. “Emilie in Paris”
With two seasons so far on Netflix, the majority of this show is set and filmed in Paris, but Chicago is seen in Season 1 as Emily’s hometown and workplace. The character annoyed Chicagoans in season 1 with her diss of Lou Malnati’s pizza, but the show may have tried to redeem itself in season 2, when Emily received a birthday present from Skokie, Illinois: a deep frozen pizza from a friend at home.
3. “Married… with children”
The Bundys were a mainstay of Fox TV from 1987 to 1997. The show was set in an unnamed suburb of Chicago, with the opening footage showing scenes like Grant Park and Lake Shore Drive, and the exterior of their home shot in Deerfield. Alas, the rest of the show was filmed in California.
This ABC show ran from 1988 to 1997, featuring the Conner family in the fictional town of Lanford, Illinois. The location of this town is unclear, but it was thought to be in Fulton County, southwest of Peoria, or a suburb west of Chicago. In real life, the show was filmed in Los Angeles, with some location shots filmed in Evansville, Indiana. Additionally, Laurie Metcalf, who played Roseanne’s sister Jackie Harris, was born in Carbondale, grew up in Edwardsville, and graduated from Illinois State University in 1976.
5. “Family Matters”
This family comedy, derived from the show “Perfect Strangers”, aired from 1989 to 1998, first on ABC and then on CBS. The show took place in Chicago but was filmed in California. The exterior of the Winslow House was a real home in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood, but it was torn down in 2017 to make way for condos.
6. “Chicago Hope”
This medical drama aired on CBS from 1994 to 2000, taking place in a fictional hospital in Chicago. Despite the Chicago setting and its namesake, filming took place almost entirely in Los Angeles.
7. “The Good Wife”
Airing on CBS from 2009 to 2016, this legal and political drama followed a couple in the aftermath of a sex scandal. It was set in Chicago but was filmed primarily in New York. Actor Gary Cole, who was born in Park Ridge and attended Illinois State University, had a recurring role on “The Good Wife” as Kurt McVeigh, a ballistics expert.
8. “Mike & Molly”
Airing on CBS from 2010 to 2016, this sitcom followed a Chicago couple who met in an Overeaters Anonymous group and began dating. (Fun fact: Melissa McCarthy, who played Molly, is an Illinois girl herself, born in Plainfield and attending school in Joliet.) However, the show itself was filmed in Los Angeles, at the except for a few exterior photographs in Chicago. (Another fun fact: Molly’s house used the same set as the Illinois TV show “Roseanne.”)
From 2011 to 2021, Showtime’s “Shameless” followed a dysfunctional working-class Chicago family, the Gallaghers. It was actually an adaptation of a British series of the same name. Unlike most other shows set in the Windy City, this one was partially shot in Chicago, specifically the Lawndale neighborhood, with other scenes shot in California.
10. “As the World Turns”
“ATWT” ruled the soap opera world from 1956 to 2010 on CBS. It takes place in a fictional town called Oakdale, Illinois, but was filmed in New York. There was, however, at least one genuine Illinois connection: Kathryn Hays, who played Kim Hughes from 1972 until the end of the series, was born in Princeton and raised in Joliet. In 2019, Princeton honored her with a star on the Walk of Fame outside the Apollo Theater.
…and a show that was filmed in Illinois, but didn’t take place here:
“Empire,” a popular musical drama that aired on Fox from 2015 to 2020, was a flip-flop from how most of the TV shows above were made: It took place in New York City. , but was filmed in Chicago. The story centered on the fictional Empire Entertainment, a family-run hip-hop and entertainment company.
Contact Robyn Skaggs at (309) 820-3244.