Editor’s note: As the first season of the New Orleans-set K-Ville wraps up, we decided to ask Leo McGovern, a character in our webcomic A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge for his review.
Speak to a New Orleanian who’s seen the series K-Ville and he’ll say one of two things: I love the show and embrace its deficiencies like a Saints fan does a blowout loss—even if the end result isn’t pretty, it doesn’t matter as long as we have a good time along the way. Or: I hate the show and chalk up its cheesiness to the show’s writers being lazy and a slap in the faces of the citizens who are sticking it out every day and aren’t clichéd representations. A television shows hasn’t been as polarizing since American Idol.
I grew up in the New Orleans area and have seen the gamut of emotions that our citizens have; the feeling about K-Ville is that’s it’s another example of mass media patronizing New Orleans and fabricating a sense of corporate sympathy. But even if the gesture is genuine, why does mass media seem to get simple things wrong so often? To be fair, it’s not just K-Ville-–for example, a character in Heroes, who lives in New Orleans, referred to the city as being in a “county” and not a “parish.” K-Ville’s biggest goof is the now-infamous “Gumbo Party,” which is so far from the traditional “Seafood Boil” or “Crawfish Boil” it’s laughable—it’s not that the notion of having a party around a pot of gumbo is implausible, it’s just that it never happens in real life (though those that embrace K-Ville’s camp have begun to throw gumbo bashes for new episodes). Before the series began, K-Ville creator Jonathan Lisco (N.Y.P.D. Blue, The District) rode along with N.O.P.D. in an effort to get a sense of the city, so he seems to want the show to be authentic. Yet you have to wonder if he ever thought of giving a script to any locals. Anthony Anderson’s “Marlin Boulet” character is shown making a single fried shrimp po-boy in his kitchen on the middle of a weekday (and in a very tidy manner, might I add). It’s not that it’s an implausible scene, it’s just that no one takes the time to boil a pot of oil, peel some shrimp, bread them, drop them in and make a sandwich as a quick afternoon snack. Life in K-Ville just isn’t the way it is in real New Orleans.
The ratings on K-Ville have been sluggish since its first episode, and rumor has it that Fox is going to use the Writers Guild strike as an excuse to cancel the show (another sign: flyers for a fire sale of the show’s odds and ends have recently appeared on the streets). I don’t think it’ll be missed. Maybe the next time a production company tries to launch a series or a movie that’s set in New Orleans they’ll take this advice: No Cajun accents. No locals riding carriages. And don’t portray our citizens like a bunch of alcoholic freeloaders, because believe me, major media, we’re not as light in the head as you think we are.
Leo McGovern is editor-in-chief and publisher of Antigravity, a monthly New Orleans music and culture magazine. He’s also a character in the Katrina-themed online comic strip, A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge, a dog-lover, a comic book fan and really pretty on the inside.