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America is a large country of stunning diversity, but the film and television industries are largely confined to one little corner of it: southern California, where Hollywood is. Writers tend to write what they know, and since they know Southern California, the rest of the country will often be inaccurately portrayed as being just like L.A. (And it'll look just like L.A., too.) Often, this happens just because it's cheaper to film in nearby locations than to spend money relocating staff to other parts of the country.

This is arguably the reason why It's Always Spring. Often inverted by having shows that actually are set in Southern California...filmed in Vancouver.

Also known as Californication, which is the trope namer for a TV show and a song. Especially as a Take That by residents of the Pacific Northwest.

Compare with: Edit

Contrast with: Edit

  • Eagleland Osmosis, where the omnipresence of American media leads non-Americans to believe that their country works just like America.
Examples of SoCalization include:


  • Lots of details of law and government specific to California. For example:
    • The death penalty. Until recently, often sought in California, but rare in practice due to the drawn-out process of appeals. In other states, can range from illegal (Massachusetts, Michigan), to on the books but unused (New York until recently), to used so often it's no big deal at all (Texas, Virginia).
      • Law and Order plays with this, with suspects pointing out that no one had been executed in New York since the federal moratorium a few episodes after seeing someone executed. And then in other episodes, they like to threaten criminals who've murdered in Texas with extradition, as they're a lot faster to pull the switch.
    • California cops have 48 hours to charge a suspect with a crime before they have to release him. The standard under federal law is actually 72 hours, but You Have 72 Hours isn't a trope.
    • Speaking of cops, "To protect and to serve" isn't a general police slogan, just the LAPD's.
      • It turns up on some other departments' cars and letterhead, due to a kind of Red Stapler effect.
      • Also, other departments more commonly use "To serve and protect."
      • New York's cops use "CPR: Courtesy Professionalism and Respect" as well as "New York's Finest" with other branches being other "New York's ___est" (e.g. FDNY is New York's Bravest)
    • Murder is defined in California Penal Code section 187. You never hear references to other states' laws in slang.
      • Similarly, "5150" has recently entered urban vernacular for "crazy". This is because 5150 is the California code for a 72-hour psychiatric evaluation.
    • The TV series Hawaii Five-O [the original] and Miami Vice had police dispatchers use 211 (from the California penal code) for armed robbery.
    • Now ABC is offering Detroit187, a show with a title referencing the California penal code (murder) in a city not in California.
    • Stacy Keach's Mike Hammer made repeated references to the gas chamber, a means of execution used by California, but inconsistent with the series New York setting. The latter state relied on the electric chair for most of the 20th Century. Later law provided for lethal injection.
    • California is one of nine "community property" states. This has led many people in TV and movies (and real life) to use the term when they mean "marital property".
  • Metropolitan areas are large, sprawling, and separated by hundreds of miles of countryside. (Nothing at all like the relatively compact and closely spaced cities of the Northeast and Midwest.)
  • Carbonated soft drinks are always "soda"--never "pop", "cola", or "coke"--because that's what the generic name for a fizzy drink is in California. Compare.
  • Stories set ostensibly in places such as Ohio or Connecticut have characters wearing tee-shirts and other spring appropriate clothes in the middle of January.
  • In Southern California, highway numbers take the definite article: Interstate 5, for instance, is "the 5"; state highway 22 is "the 22." This is often carried over into shows and films even when people in the setting would say "Route 22," "State 22," "I-5," "Highway 5," just plain "5," and so forth.
  • In one episode of QI it is pointed out that only a particular subspecies of frogs, found in California, go "ribbit", while frogs can actually produce a wide variety of different sounds.
  • The DMV. Only about 18 states have an organization that can be called the DMV, and usually they only handle vehicular registration, where in California it's become the Central Bureaucracy.
  • A girl will always be "legal" at the age of 18, as if this is the age of consent for the entire country. In reality, each state has its own age of consent, and only a few of them have it at 18, California being one of them. It's 16 or 17 in most states. Also, some states have exceptions if both are younger than the age of consent, or one is at it but the other is slightly below. Also, it is a federal offense in the United States to take a minor across state lines for the purpose of engaging in sexual intercourse.
    • However, it should be noted that Baja California, Mexico (home to stock drunken debauchery site Tijuana, literally just across the border from San Diego), does have a legal age of 14, and some parts of Mexico have it as low as twelve. However, in that case the age is still 16, unless you are paying for it (then it is 18) or you happen to be a minor (then it is your age -4, minimum 12). Very few places worldwide have it as high as 18.
    • Less an effect of state age of consent than the American standard of someone being a legal adult at 18. In areas strictly under the jurisdiction of the federal government (e.g. Americans living on military bases abroad) the age of consent is 16 (as per the Uniform Code of Military Justice) or the age of consent in that State/Nation (whichever is higher).
  • In-N-Out Burger. These fast-food restaurants are only in the Southwest United States. But they are sometimes mentioned in shows that take place elsewhere. Other franchises, such as Sonic or Jack-in-the-Box, are also commonly seen on T.V. despite the fact that they aren't prevalent in some areas.
  • California-specific namings of stores with different names across the country: Ralph's (supermarket chain owned by Kroger), Checker's (known in some places as Rally's), and Carl's Jr. (known as Hardee's in some places; mostly the South and Midwest).
  • An hilariously odd sort of SoCalization appears in the Star Trek novel Spock's World by Diane Duane, in a description of Vulcan- "Jim tended to think of it as southern California, but with less rain." [1]
  • Radio and TV stations sometimes have call letters beginning with "K" even when the setting is in the east, where they usually use "W." This is not always the case, however, with WKRP in Cincinnati being the most obvious example.
  • For years, the opening credits of Matlock showed a Georgia license tag on a car's front bumper. Georgia has never used front tags.
  • The cities and terrain in Sim City have a distinct SoCal feel to them, with no seasonality, palm trees, and brown ground. Made especially odd by Maxis, the company behind Sim City, being from Northern California.
  • Five-card draw poker as the gambling game of choice (at least until Rounders was released and Texas Hold'em started airing on ESPN). California for a long time had an esoteric law prohibiting any form of stud poker, and Gardena (a Los Angeles suburb) was fairly well known for its draw poker cardrooms. From 1900 until the 1970's, five and seven-card stud games were far more popular in the rest of the country than TV and movies would indicate.
  • In many 80's/90's teen movies that don't take place in California, the "popular girls" have stereotypical Valley Girl lingo and fashion, despite the fact that this culture is mostly relegated to the Southern California area. Heathers, which takes place in suburban Ohio, is a notable example of this, as the three main Heathers look and act more like they belong in Beverly Hills than the Suburban Midwest.

Notes

  1. For those who have no idea why this is so funny, Capt. James T. Kirk hails from Iowa. Starfleet HQ is in California, but Northern California, not at all the same thing...