It's no secret that TV and movies don't always depict everything 100% accurately. And sometimes, that's totally okay — they're meant to be an escape, after all!
But there are times when TV and movies just get something so, so wrong. For example, I remember watching The O.C. (mmm whatcha sayyy) and being surprised to learn that the show's depiction of Chino, California was reportedly not very accurate at all.
1. Los Angeles
"My favorite trope is seeing someone fly into LAX, renting a car, driving on PCH [Pacific Coast Highway] and often going south, then finally pulling into the valet parking at their hotel in downtown or Hollywood or Beverly Hills, or wherever else makes no sense geographically."
"Everything about LA [is inaccurate], really. Burbank to Santa Monica, California is roughly 24 miles. I remember watching the show 24 and Jack would do the drive in 15–20 minutes. Yeah, try an hour and 45 minutes."
"Characters always find parking right in front of the place they need to be at...total B.S.!"
"I recently found out that the TV show Smallville was filmed in Vancouver. I could easily see how they made it look like the fictional city of Metropolis, but the fictional town of Smallville is supposed to be a farming town of about 50,000 people. That must have been hard to do. Then again, in the movie Field of Dreams, they shot a brief scene that was supposed to take place in downtown Boston using a block of downtown Dubuque, Iowa, so I guess anything is possible."
"I grew up in Tokyo, and so many people seem to see it as perfect. I like and hate the city at the same time. It has good things (like public transport) but some parts are just...old. Also, I think the western world romanticizes Japan's countryside too much."
"I spent one year working in Japan. The first seven months I was 'stuck' in Tokyo because I had to do restaurant work to finish a cooking school degree. I started work early in the morning and took the last train to get back home at midnight. For a while, I worked six days a week. It was [also] not unusual to go to a bar or restaurant after work, drink and eat, and then come back home at 3 a.m. Despite the work culture, I still found Japan to be a beautiful country, especially the smaller, more rural towns. It is often romanticized as perfect — it's far from it, and maybe not for everyone. But for what it's worth, I have fond memories."
"It's portrayed in movies as such a romantic, perfect city. But when you get there, if it weren't for the Eiffel Tower and signs in French, you would swear you landed in the wrong city. The problems all stem from the fact that Paris is just CROWDED. ... Trash and sewage disposal suffers heavily as a result, and there's trash strewn about the city and the smell of urine and feces everywhere you go. There are downright comical amounts of dog poop left on the street. The exterior of buildings are dirty and not kept well. Metro trains and stations filled with all kinds of 'interesting' smells. Also, tourists can be disrespectful and make the litter problem worse. "
"There's actually a name for the disappointment and disillusionment many people feel when visiting Paris. It's called 'Paris Syndrome.'"
"A lot of people go to Paris the same way they might go to Disneyland — they're expecting a curated vacation experience. But Paris is a city. Millions of people live and work there. It's also an old city that has had to readjust to many different waves of modernism over the last thousand years, constantly building new on top of the old and trying to convert to new infrastructure without destroying the old spirit of the city. So yes, it's dirty in spots like all cities. It's easy to treat the whole city as an open museum because you can barely turn a corner without seeing something beautiful. And when you're doing that, it can be easy to forget that you're not actually in a museum everywhere you walk. Personally, I love Paris, but I've only ever lived in large cities. ... Suburban travelers probably have a very different perspective."
5. Las Vegas
"The Strip is actually in an unincorporated community called Paradise, Nevada. The people running the casinos created The Strip [outside Vegas] to not have to pay city taxes. The city of Las Vegas has that famous cowboy light thing."
"In films, it's always portrayed as an 'exotic' place. There are always silhouettes with mosques, men with mustaches, and the call to prayer echoing in the background. That's not to say that you can't find all of the above in Istanbul, but in a megacity with a population of over 15 million, there's a lot more going on. Hollywood films never show the modern side of the city. Taken 2, I'm talking to you!"
"I can think of so many movies — and even an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer — where the characters all run around through dusty streets, disturbing donkeys and toppling over wooden carts full of fruit while men wearing turbans shake their fists all while the call to prayer goes off at the most absurd and random times of the day. We [people who live there] get a kick out of it and pretty much expect nothing less at this point."
7. San Francisco
"The harsh reality of San Francisco is completely glossed over. When it’s nice, it’s great — but most of the time, you need to dodge buses, bikes, needles, human excrement, and incredibly over-priced everything."
"There's a famous scene [in The Graduate] where a shot shows Dustin Hoffman driving across the Bay Bridge...in the wrong direction and out of the city he is supposedly trying to enter."
8. New Orleans
"New Orleans [resident] here reporting in. No film gets the New Orleans accent right. They usually make it sound like a generic Mississippi accent. Although there are many local dialects, the authentic New Orleans accent sounds almost identical to a Brooklyn accent: 'Hey where y'at?' 'Righ', cheeya!' Also, not all of us have iron balconies ... and we don't all eat Cajun food every day."
"The movies make New Orleans seem like it's Mardi Gras 24/7."
9. Forks, Washington
"I visited there a few times growing up, before Twilight came out. My mom's high school played against Forks in sports. There is nothing there. It's a tiny town with nothing interesting at all."
"I grew up where parts of Twilight were really filmed (Columbia River Gorge, Washington and Oregon side). It's very much the opposite of Forks — there's so much to see, so much to do. Every day is so beautiful, no matter the weather. Tiny towns, but just gorgeous views."
"Exclusive to the Twilight movies, but Forks, Washington. That is not Forks, it does not look like Forks, and it's too clean and nice to be Forks. When the first movie came out, one of my teachers who used to work there went on a rant about how Forks High School absolutely does not look like that."
10. Washington, DC
"It does not have skyscrapers, despite what Die Hard 4 tells you."
"Most movies set in DC are made by Californians who have never been there, so they just assume its like a knockoff version of New York City."
"It's not a wasteland. There is definitely a huge problem with blight, but two streets over you might find a beautiful church or museum. You're not guaranteed to be mugged just by walking around downtown."
"Downtown Detroit has amazing restaurants and great concert venues, plus the entire city has amazing architecture. The bad areas are pretty vast, but it's not all like that."
12. Bogotá, Colombia
"In Mr. & Mrs. Smith, it's portrayed as a hot, dusty hellhole with tropical birds. In reality, it is a cold-ish, gigantic, cosmopolitan urban city with a lot of the good and a lot of the bad that's common in every city."
"Movies almost always portray it like some rural jungle town. Bonus inaccuracy points for the yellow/brown filter."
13. Cambridge, Massachusetts
"Harvard doesn’t allow movies to be shot on their campus so the majority of movies/tv shows involving Harvard (which is in Cambridge) are shot somewhere else. Good Will Hunting was an exception — I remember seeing Robin Williams in Harvard Square, and one scene was filmed in the courtyard of a dorm house."
14. And finally: Yakima, Washington
"Contrary to iCarly canon, Yakima is NOT just 90 minutes from Seattle."
Note: Responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.