Showtime's Kirsten Dunst dark dramedy and Laura Chinn's Pop TV comedy portray woman who "may end up in comical situations, but they are not the butt of any Florida jokes," says Monica Castillo. "Within the last decade or so since I left Florida, there’s been a shift in the way my state has been shown onscreen," she adds. "I grew up watching TV shows and movies that treated Florida like a novelty. In the ’90s, it was usually the destination of a very special episode, like when the Tanners went to Disney World on Full House (or when any number of other ABC sitcom families got their own 'Disney episodes'). When it was the setting, shows like Golden Girls barely engaged with the Florida outside their home. Films like Miami Vice and the 1983 remake of Scarface showed off the darker side of the Sunshine State. My hometown of Tampa even made a brief cameo in Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas, when two of the movie’s main gangsters take a target to the zoo’s lion exhibit to intimidate him. However entertaining, that’s not the Florida of most locals. Even simple steps like setting a show’s narrative in Florida feel like leaps and bounds from only hearing about my state in punchlines. Instead of approaching characters like a gawking tourist might, On Becoming a God in Central Florida and Florida Girls shine an empathetic light on their characters’ struggles with poverty and attempts to get ahead. They also capture a kind of restless spirit that I’ve previously only seen in the independent movies of Florida-born filmmakers like Kelly Reichardt (River of Grass) and Amy Seimetz (Sun Don’t Shine). In these movies, crime, guilt, and desperation come to a boil under an almost suffocating need to escape mundanity and humidity-induced malaise. One visitor’s escapism is another person’s reason to escape." ALSO: Claws, Florida Girls and On Becoming a God utilize Florida without turning it into a joke.
TOPICS: On Becoming a God in Central Florida, Pop TV, Showtime, TNT, Claws, Florida Girls, Laura Chinn