By Erik Winther
It doesn’t matter if you are a Southerner who just wants to see how the South’s atmosphere is rendered on the small screen or simply an outsider looking for more information on this special region which, over the years, has been the setting of numerous critically acclaimed movies and shows, Southern-set movies or TV shows have a certain magic to them. The most important thing is that the South continues to be a great source of inspiration for artists including directors, screenwriters and actors. So, if you are a Netflix fan and feel like diving into the Southern atmosphere, keep on reading because here are some of the best movies or TV shows you can find on the popular streaming platform right now.
When a young and beautiful doctor from New York City moves to a small town in Alabama, things change drastically for her. With the initial goal of taking over a private practice, Zoe Hart (Rachel Bilson) will soon find out that life in the South is not as carefree as she thought. “Hart of Dixie” is fun, full of twists and turns, drama and energy. Fans have binge-watched this series simply because of how authentic it felt. It was actually filmed entirely in Wilmington, North Carolina. The series ran for four full seasons before being canceled this spring. However, taking into account that its creator, Leila Gerstein, said that if it hadn’t been for the cancellation, the show would have been on for 17 years, we think it is worth a shot, especially if you love medical dramas and the beautiful South.
This drama TV series ran from 2003 up until 2012, for nine full seasons, and was centered on the daily life of a close group of young friends that struggle to get through their problems and romances together in the fictional town of Tree Hill, North Carolina. In fact, the entire series used various locations from Wilmington as filming locations. “One Tree Hill” is the perfect show to watch on Netflix if you want something light and relaxing, as the story revolves around the romantic relationships of a group of people. Even if the town is purely fictional, the atmosphere of the South is as authentic as it can be with such a young group of people as your main characters.
This very popular post-apocalyptic horror TV show debuted in 2010 and is still going strong after its ninth season. Having been based on a comic book series, it’s centered around sheriff’s deputy Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) who, one day, wakes up from a coma only to discover that the area around Georgia has been taken over by zombies, or “walkers” as they are called in “The Walking Dead.” The show was filmed in multiple locations, but they were all centered around Georgia. The episodes depict the daily struggles of a small group of survivors trying to survive another day under the horrifying threat of their own peers that have lost all their humanity and are trying to kill them. You can watch it on Netflix, but be prepared. This show is not for the faint of heart as it contains lots of graphic scenes, ugly surprises and scares.
This Netflix original political thriller series made a huge splash when it was first released in 2013 to much critical acclaim. “House of Cards” is centered around South Carolina Democrat Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) and his elaborate plan to obtain more power after he is denied the position of Secretary of State. The series is bold and dark, dealing with themes like manipulation, sex, power and pragmatism. The main filming location was, interestingly enough, the town of Baltimore, not the actual capital. The production team also visited South Carolina and Maryland. However, the series was overshadowed by the sexual misconduct allegations against its Oscar-winning star Spacey, and Netflix decided to make the sixth season the final one. Spacey was fired and will not be part of the final season. Still, this is an incredibly good series to watch if you are a fan of the South and politics, too.
You simply cannot make a list of the best Southern-set shows and movies on Netflix and not include the 1962 classic “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Based on Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, the story takes place in the fictional town of Maycomb, Alabama, in the 1930s. It is one of the most critically acclaimed movies in history, with Gregory Peck winning the Academy Award for Best Actor and the movie getting eight other nods. It’s very interesting that the filming location should have been the town of Monroeville in Alabama, but the team decided that it was too modern at the time and recreated it completely at Universal Studios Hollywood to have that old vibe. “To Kill a Mockingbird” is certainly one of the very best when it comes to Southern culture, atmosphere and the social situation back in the early 1930s.
This 1994 romantic comedy-drama set in Georgia won six Academy Awards, including Best Actor, which went to Tom Hanks, who portrayed the slow but kind-hearted Forrest Gump. The movie follows his life through various periods as he witnesses many important historical events in the United States. Even the soundtrack was one of the most successful of all time. Most of the movie was filmed around Beaufort, South Carolina. Other locations included Savannah, Georgia, and Washington, DC. As Forrest tells his life story to various strangers sitting next to him on a bench at a bus stop, viewers are taught important life lessons about acceptance and, most importantly, love. This is truly one of the best Southern movies on Netflix right now.
Another similar drama set in the South is “Sharp Objects,” currently not on Netflix but, according to the rumor mill, it may become available soon. It is currently one of the most popular shows on HBO, and viewers are now asking for it to be included on Netflix too. Netflix’s newest series, “The Haunting of Hill House,” based on author Shirley Jackson’s cult classic novel, is now available and was filmed around Atlanta, Georgia. Thankfully, websites like NetflixGuides can keep you up to date with what is and what isn’t on the streaming platform at the moment.
Erik Winther is the editor of Netflixguides.com, the go-to source for all Netflix-related news, latest releases and best shows.