Showrunner Greg Garcia's anthology-style comedy The Guest Book premieres Thursday, Aug. 3 on TBS. The series chronicles accounts from a guest book that lives in Froggy Cottage, a vacation cabin in a small mountain town called Mount Trace. Garcia's previous hits My Name Is Earl and Raising Hope, are known for their eccentric cast of characters, so this new series may deliver on the same front. The offbeat characters featured in the show are fictional, but is the place they all visit fictional too? Keep in mind when you're planning your own vacations that Mount Trace isn't a real town.
Just like Camden (My Name Is Earl) and Natesville (Raising Hope) before it, Mount Trace is also a fictional creation. But I assume that the goal is for Mount Trace's bold characters and poetic — though, sometimes twisted — stories to be so well-developed and honest that the town starts to feel like a real place.
While the show is not based on an actual town, real guest books did inspire the series. According to an interview in The Huffington Post, Garcia would entertain himself, and perhaps a few strangers, when he would leave funny short stories in guest books at cabin resorts across the country. "I was amusing myself," he said. "Then over time I started to envision that these stories could come together."
While each episode of The Guest Book takes place at the same Mount Trace cabin resort, the guests and stories change every episode. But there is a standing cast of locals for the audience to get attached to: a small town cop, a local doctor, the dancer from the low-rent strip club, and, of course, the cabin's desk clerk.
Before getting to know the quirky visitors and residents of Mount Trace, the town's businesses, and local flavor, let's look back on other series where a community became a character. I can't imagine these shows taking place anywhere other than their fictional, memorable towns.
Stars Hollow had charm out the wazoo. From lovable, weird characters to longstanding businesses and dutiful neighbors to adorable festivals and quaint local landmarks (hello, the gazebo), Gilmore Girls wouldn't be the same without the small Connecticut town. In fact, Stars Hollow could be the fourth Gilmore Girl. (Emily was the third.)
Honorable Mention goes to Hart Of Dixie's Bluebell and Pretty Little Liars' Rosewood, which both used the same idyllic set for their deeply rooted, location-based shows.
The Simpsons is entering its 29th season. Let that sink in for a minute. 29. You can't go 29 seasons without having a well-developed universe. In fact, the show's businesses, Springtonians, schools, and town were so developed from day one that Springfield almost feels like a home away from home for fans.
Pawnee wasn't a town without problems — remember the raccoon infestation? But, it sure had a whole lot of heart. Parks And Recreation was all about this place's trials and tribulations, and the people who worked hard to improve and govern Pawnee. You can't have Parks without Pawnee, Indiana.
You may not want to load up the U-Haul and move to Twin Peaks like some of the other cities on this list, but one thing is for certain, there's no place quite like this eerie, eccentric, Northwestern town. And I hear the cherry pie is pretty good.
Like Springfield, South Park has been a thoughtfully crafted fictional town since the pilot, with consistent characters and mythology. While the town's "Friendly faces everywhere, humble folks without temptation!" sets the scene as Anywhere, USA, the show continues to surprise audiences with its anything but ordinary plots that have thrown presidents, celebrities, the devil, and God himself into South Park, Colorado.
Garcia's Previous Towns
Camden and Natesville may not be the fanciest towns or have the classiest residents, but the stories and people Garcia has created come from a candid, humorous place. From a topless grandma to a roller-skating dancer (aptly called Dancing Dan) to a genius turned fry cook in the witness protection program, Garcia's specific small-town characters do not disappoint.
Who'll sign the titular guest book in Mount Trace? You'll have to keep watching to find out.