The Usual Suspects

by Jordan Rock

Here’s a question. How often do you get to see your own home town culture in the media? Seriously, when was the last time you saw New Orleans on Cable TV? How about Animation? Video Games? Books?

If you’re like me then you are  hungry for some good representation. And I’ve got some good news and bad news.

The good news is many different types of media showcase the Crescent City. The bad news is that the list is short. Like, tiny article on a local website short, and your mileage may depend on if it’s good rep or not. Let’s get into it.


Over the years, movies set or filmed in New Orleans have ranged from classics like “Jezebel,” “Streetcar Named Desire,” “Easy Rider” and “Interview with the Vampire” to more recent films like the Oscar winner for Best Picture “12 Years A Slave” and “Girls Trip,” set during Essence Fest.

I think everyone knows about the heavy hitters, here.
A Streetcar Named Desire is a very well-known classic that uses the French Quarter as a backdrop. Pretty much the whole play takes place in one apartment, though, so it’s not much to look at in terms of representation.

Interview with the Vampire, based on New Orleanian Anne Rice’s novel, is another stand out. However the city’s presence is mostly relegated to flashbacks.

New Orleans in Media

There’s also the 007 movie Live and Let Die, which takes place all over islands around the Gulf of Mexico, as well as the Crescent City. You probably know it. It is the movie where Bond gets called a honky. 

Déjà Vu represented the Big Easy well with locations in the Garden District, the Mississippi River Ferry, and Mardi Gras, among other sites.

Probably the strongest New Orleans rep in cinema comes from the movie “New Orleans” from 1947, which stars Louie Armstrong and Billie Holiday. It’s a love story between a casino owner and high society singer, featuring a parade of cameos from popular jazz musicians of the time.

If you ask me, this film is largely responsible for the perception of New Orleans around the world; a steamy, action packed hot spot for music, booze, and all sorts of colorful characters.
 Check out the various films made in New Orleans here:


New Orleans gets more play in novels than just about anywhere else. In fact, the Wikipedia page about New Orleans in fiction has an long, exhaustive list of novels taking place in and around the city.
Anne Rice needs no introduction, as her novel work speaks for itself. New Orleans is a near constant setting in her novels, especially when it comes to the Vampire Diaries. Though special mention goes to The Witching Hour. It is a story where the protagonist hooks up with the smoke monster from Lost.  There is wide-ranging detail about New Orleans architecture for several chapters.

New Orleans in Media

I could go on, I really could. New Orleans is a magical, beautiful place that hosts the strangest, warmest people in the world. No matter where I go, every time I come back to New Orleans, it’s just the same as I left it.

It’s a place that novelists love to explore. In terms of more contemporary media, it’s not gotten nearly as much exposure as it deserves. Stay tuned for the second half of this piece. I talk about how New Orleans is shown on TV, animation and video games.

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