So now that I am going to California there are a few things I need to do before I go. Sure, there’s packing and planning my route and avoiding saying goodbye to my friends and family, but most importantly I have to pop culturally prepare myself for life in the Sunshine State…wait that’s Florida. (Note to self: California is the Golden State.) Here are some famous movies, TV shows, and books set in California that I need to catch up on. Maybe once I actually move I can check some of the items on this list and compare them with my experiences. Also, keep in mind since I haven’t seen anything on this list yet, what I have learned about California so far comes from Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Monk/Psych (both of which had episodes/entire seasons shot in Canada), and Brink!
The O.C. (2003-2007)
Gossip Girl is to NY what The O.C. is to California. Young, rich, beautiful people and their drama filled love lives all with a backdrop of indie hits? Count me in. Plus, even without seeing an episode I know that I would fall in love with Seth Cohen. He married Blair Waldorf in real life, what could be cuter?
I have been wanting to watch Entourage for some time now because I know I would love it. It is a show about friends trying to make it in the media industry AKA the reason I am moving to California…except for the fact that I have no acting ambitions. I love the idea of a show about making movies, trying to make it in the industry, and living in L.A. in general. Out of all the things on this list there is a high probability that I will start this before anything else.
The Maltese Falcon (1941)
I dislike the fact that I have not seen this film already, especially since it has all of my favorite things: the debonaire Humphrey Bogart, a femme fatale, and a film noir style. When I am not thinking of CA as a sunny paradise, I sometime imagine it as a fog filled, black-and-white city full of adventure, crime, and mystery. This film probably won’t help that idea.
Sadly I know nothing about the water crisis that inspired this film. What I do know is that it stars Jack Nicholson, it won a ton of awards, and it features the famous and oft quoted final line, “Forget it Jake, it’s Chinatown.” I’m really glad I don’t know much more than that because I really want to see this film for myself.
Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)
When I think about the people who live in California I think of two things: surfer guys and valley girls. And since I’ve already seen Clueless and Legally Blonde, it is time for me to watch the film that stars one of the most famous surfer/slackers, Jeff Spicoli. I also hear it captures pretty well what it is like growing up in the 80’s…something I sadly was not alive to see. Good thing there are so many great films about the subject.
Endless Summer (1966)
After reading the Vanity Fair article about the now infamous Endless Summer movie poster I became interested in seeing the film. I have no illusions that I will be any good at surfing, but I admire those who are and the skill and dedication that it takes despite the seemingly laid back lifestyle surfers seem to possess. Also, it is one of the most influential documentaries of all time.
Somehow I have a degree in English, but have never had to read this classic Depression era tale by Steinbeck. While he may not be one of my favorite writers, I feel like it is important novel to read. It is about about America in a certain time and place in history, but one that may not be as long ago and far away, or as different from our own, as we would like to believe.
The Mailroom: Hollywood History from the Bottom Up by David Rensin
This book could really be any story about the same subject, this is just the one that happened to be saved on my Goodreads page. I love reading anything about Hollywood, whether it is about the Golden Age or today. There is something thrilling learning the stories behind how films get made and the things people in the crew go through to be a part of them. Another title that could go here is The Prince, The Showgirl, and Me: Six Months on the Set with Marilyn and Olivier by Colin Clark, the book that the film My Week with Marilyn (2011) was based on. As well as countless others
This is only a VERY SMALL list of CA pop culture I have to catch up on, my lists are always growing faster than my ability to watch/read things. Despite that fact, I’m always open to new suggestions!