Finally, a Show about Mississippi...
I am the first to admit that I am hypersensitive to southern stereotypes in film and television. Being a native Mississippian, I can't help it. My whole life I've witnessed producers and writers depict my homeland and its people to be...not necessarily something they're not, but instead something that withholds the entire truth, casting a bright, white light on its ugliest features.
Stereotypes exist for a reason, and the characters you've seen in film and television have most likely been inspired by real-life people. However, often times the blown-out version misses the nuances, the history--and the rest of the southern population.
I realize I'm speaking in vague terms. Bottom line is--the south is a complicated place. There are, unfortunately, still racist, homophobic bigots that live in Mississippi, and they don't always look like the cast from The Beverly Hillbillies. Sometimes they are hiding under the guise of little old ladies who attend bake sales. Sure, people talk a little slower and walk with more ease. Yes, we have an accent, and no, it's not funny. Sure, there is a population of southerners who haven't traveled very far, or had much education, or been exposed to various cultures. That's a lot of America. But there is a VERY LARGE PART OF THE SOUTH that includes wildly talented, educated, open-minded people who don't look at all like Jeff Foxworthy or Paula Deen.
I'm not atoning for the sins of the south, but I am exhausted of seeing southerners depicted as backwoods bumpkins found in the Wal-Mart parking lot wearing moo moos and missing teeth. And if you must only feature these stereotypes--the swindling lawyer, the racist shop owner, the simple country boy, or the fat, lazy middle class cable guy--then give me more than what meets the eye. Show me why I care. Show me what makes them human. Because all southerners know, no matter where you come from, that there's always more to the story.
What I'm trying to say is: Please go watch One Mississippi, the new series co-written by Tig Notaro and Diablo Cody on Amazon Prime. Finally, a show in which Mississippi is the backdrop and its worth is not distilled to stereotypes or simply food, or simply race, or simply football.
Tig Notaro is the shining example of the funny, smart, charming southerner I was referring to above. The semi-autobiographical One Mississippi begins with Tig's return to her hometown of Pass Christian to attend her mother's funeral. During this time Tig is dealing with her own illness and the first episode beautifully and painfully captures the rawness of love and loss.
Only the pilot is available for viewing at the moment, but I want you to watch it because I want people to know that a show about family and loss in Mississippi can be beautifully honest, funny, and nothing like Deliverance.