There aren’t many television shows still on the air that are specifically set in Philadelphia, but there have been quite a few in the past that stood out for their use of city as a backdrop. Here’s a short list of some of the best TV shows set in Philly.
Boy Meets World
This family comedy ran from 1993 to 2000, for a total of seven seasons, and follows the adventures and growing pains of Philadelphia students Cory Matthews and Shawn Hunter. The show, staring Ben Savage (Cory), is vaguely similar to his brother Fred’s own show from the 1980s, “The Wonder Years” (and the older Savage makes an appearance in a later season of the show!). As for its Philly setting, the characters in “Boy Meets World” often make references to local sports teams, like the Eagles and Flyers, and the comedy also featured Cory’s attempt to enter Swarthmore College. Fun fact: Though set in Philadelphia, the series was actually filmed at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, Calif.
Although much of the street scenes for “Cold Case” were filmed in Philly, the detectives who are the focal point of the show are part of a police unit that doesn’t exist in real life. Still, that doesn’t stop this Philadelphia homicide squad’s main star, Lily Rush (Kathryn Morris), and her team from drilling away at cold cases to help bring closure to both the living and the dead — who were typically victims of foul play. “Cold Case” ran for seven seasons before being canceled in 2010 and often called on very-real Philadelphia homicide detective Tim Bass, who served as an adviser to the producers of the show.
Always Sunny In Philadelphia
The show is called “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia,” and its opening credits roll past about a half dozen Philly landmarks – all shown at night. Promise one thing and deliver another is what this crude, vulgar, mean-spirited, wildly hilarious, love-it-or-hate-it sitcom is all about. Described as “Seinfeld On Crack,” each episode follows the misadventures of five scheming, self-centered morons usually shown at each show’s beginning gathered at Paddy’s Pub, their regular dive bar in South Philly. The opening credits were also made on a slim budget, with the show’s creators simply driving around the city with a digital camera one night. For an in-depth guide to show, check out The Always Sunny Guide To Philadelphia.
Although Sherman Hemsley’s long-running TV sitcom didn’t have the longevity of “The Jeffersons,” it did hold its own alongside other popular sitcoms running in the 80s and early 90s that featured a mostly black cast (“The Cosby Show,” “A Different World,” “227”). In the sitcom, Mr. Jefferson — uh, Deacon Frye — serves as the head of the First Community Church of Philadelphia (which does not actually exist), who manages to keep the church together despite his many underhanded and half-baked schemes. Thanks to the likes of handsome new pastor Rev. Reuben Gregory (Clifton Davis), Frye’s love-struck daughter Thelma (Anna Maria Horsford) and a handful of loyal parishioners, the doors of the church remain open. The show lasted for about five seasons before a few characters just sort of disappeared and the show abruptly ended… but the catchy theme song “Shine On Me” still lives.
This series about a group of middle class, angst-filled baby boombers living, working and loving in Philadelphia lasted for four seasons before airing its final episode in 1991 and scooping up more than two dozen awards. “Thirtysomething” managed to attract almost a cult-like following before it was canceled. Although it caused some controversy among critics who thought the show was anti-feminist, it had a long-lasting impact on a series of other similar TV shows that eventually entered the landscape.