Detroit, the Motor City, isn’t just famous for cars and Motown jams; it’s also the backdrop for some seriously awesome TV shows that capture its vibe like you’ve never seen before. This city’s got more soul than a Motown record and more resilience than a heavyweight champ.
From the historic legacy of the auto industry to the beats that put Motown on the map, Detroit’s a melting pot of culture and history. And these TV shows? They aren’t just about crime or drama – they’re about the heartbeat of Detroit, its people, and the places that make it one heck of a city.
Strap in because these shows bring the real Detroit to your screen!
Detroiters, Comedy Central (2017 – 2018)
Detroiters revolves around the bromance between Sam Duvet and Tim Cramblin, best friends who run a small-time advertising agency in Detroit.
Their gig involves creating wacky, low-budget commercials for local businesses, often leading to hilarious situations and wild adventures.
Whether they’re attempting outrageous stunts or navigating the most peculiar client requests, these two pals hustle hard to keep their company afloat while embracing the quirks of their beloved city.
Through their goofy antics and comedic escapades, the show highlights the ups and downs of their friendship, their offbeat work life, and the absurdities of the advertising world, all set against the backdrop of Detroit’s unique charm and eccentricity.
Bob Hearts Abishola, CBS (2019 – 2023)
Bob Hearts Abishola centers on Bob, a compression sock businessman from Detroit, who suffers a mild heart attack and finds himself drawn to his nurse, Abishola, a Nigerian immigrant.
Despite cultural differences and initial misunderstandings, Bob becomes smitten with Abishola and decides to pursue his love for her.
The show humorously explores their new relationship while highlighting the challenges of bridging two different worlds and cultures.
Alongside Bob’s quirky family (a widowed mother and twin siblings) and Abishola’s tight-knit community, the series explores the complexities of love, family dynamics, and the hilarious conflicts and bonds that arise as Bob tries to win Abishola’s heart in the vibrant backdrop of Detroit.
Detroit 1-8-7, ABC (2010 – 2011)
Detroit 1-8-7 is a work that depicts the lives of detectives and police officers in the Detroit Police Department.
As the 1-8-7 in the title is a reference to the code for homicide, most of the cases featured in the series explore the nitty-gritty of solving murder cases and investigating the complexities of crimes in the city.
Led by detectives from diverse backgrounds, the series highlights their personal lives and struggles, as well as the challenges they face as they solve cases in the urban landscape of Detroit.
Each episode takes viewers on a rollercoaster ride as the investigative team solves mysteries, works with suspects, and seeks justice for victims and their families.
Justified: City Primeval, FX (2023)
This fairly new series on the list is a continuation of the Justified parent series, set in Kentucky.
The original show, and this sequel, follows Raylan Givens, a quick-draw U.S. Marshal with an old-school cowboy vibe and a moral compass that sometimes clashes with the law. On the job, Raylan’s personal and professional worlds collide as he tries to clean up the mess in his hometown while battling his own demons.
Justified: City Primeval has Raylan moving from Kentucky to Miami, where he keeps his job while attempting to balance this with his duties of being a father. Along the way, he finds himself in Detroit, hot on the heels of a criminal who has long been eluding the Detroit police force.
Low Winter Sun, AMC (2013)
Low Winter Sun immerses viewers in the gritty world of Detroit’s criminal underworld.
The story revolves around two detectives, Frank Agnew and Joe Geddes, who are caught in a web of murder, corruption, and betrayal.
Frank takes the law into his own hands by killing a fellow (albeit corrupt) cop and works with Joe to cover up the crime. As they try to hide their actions, they become embroiled in a complex game of power and deception that extends to the city’s underworld and law enforcement.
The show presents a dark picture of the streets of Detroit, where loyalties are tested, secrets are revealed, and characters try to survive in the shadow and intrigue of the city’s criminal environment.
Home Improvement, ABC (1991 – 1999)
Home Improvement takes place in a fictional suburb of Detroit, Michigan. The show revolves around Tim Taylor, a lovable but accident-prone television host of a DIY show called “Tool Time.”
Tim’s always trying to make things better, both at work and at home, but his projects often end up in hilarious disasters.
At home, he juggles family life with his patient wife, Jill, and their three mischievous sons: Brad, Randy, and Mark. Tim’s best buddy and co-host, Al Borland, provides comic relief and sage advice while dealing with Tim’s antics.
The series explores Tim’s escapades, his constant quest to improve things, and the dynamics within his family and work life.
Sister, Sister, ABC/The WB (1994 – 1999)
Sister, Sister follows the lives of twin sisters Tia Landry and Tamera Campbell, who were separated at birth and accidentally reunited in a chance encounter.
The girls couldn’t be more different – Tia is studious and practical and from inner-city Detroit, while Tamera is outgoing, spontaneous, and from the suburbs.
After rediscovering each other, they persuade their adoptive parents to live together, navigating high school life, friendship, and sibling rivalry.
Alongside their adoptive parents, Ray and Lisa, and their neighbor, Roger, the show revolves around the twins’ adventures, mishaps, and the comedic situations they find themselves in while trying to blend their distinct personalities and create a bond as sisters despite their differences.
Martin, Fox (1992 – 1997)
Another sitcom on the list is Martin, which follows the titular character Martin Payne, a smart radio DJ who dreams big but often finds himself in comical situations.
He shares an apartment with his girlfriend, Gina Waters, and has a group of close friends: Tommy, unemployed but well dressed; his crazy but loyal friend Cole; and Pam, Gina’s best friend and Martin’s verbal sparring partner.
The series follows Martin’s personal and professional detours, from his romantic relationship with Gina to his comedic interactions with friends and colleagues.
Martin’s outstanding personality and ability to handle funny situations provide the backdrop for the show’s humor.
BMF, Starz (2021 – present)
BMF is a crime drama that depicts the rise of the Black Mafia family, a notorious drug trafficking organization in Detroit.
The series follows brothers Demetrius “Big Mitch” Flenory and Terry “Southwest T” Flenory as they rise through the ranks of the drug trade and become influential figures in the Detroit underworld. Together with a tight-knit group of associates, the brothers build an empire and navigate the dangerous and lucrative world of drugs, money, and power.
It’s a view into what it takes to build their criminal enterprise while highlighting the complexities of their personal lives and relationships against the backdrop of the gritty streets of Detroit.
As their reputations grow, the brothers face challenges that test their loyalties, alliances, and, ultimately, the legacy they leave behind.
Freaks and Geeks, NBC (1999 – 2000)
Set in the fictional town of Chippewa in Detroit, Michigan, Freaks and Geeks is a coming-of-age series that revolves around two groups at William McKinley High School: the “Freaks,” a gang of rebellious kids, and the “Geeks,” a bunch of socially awkward misfits.
The story primarily follows Lindsay Weir, a former mathlete turned “Freak,” as she navigates high school life after a change of heart. Meanwhile, her younger brother, Sam, is a “Geek” trying to survive the perils of adolescence.
The series explores their struggles with fitting in, making friends, dealing with family, and finding their identities amid the challenges of high school, succinctly capturing the rollercoaster ride of growing up and discovering oneself.
8 Simple Rules, ABC (2002 – 2005)
8 Simple Rules is centered around the Hennessy family living in a suburban Detroit. The series follows sportswriter Paul Hennessy and his wife, Cate, a nurse, as they raise their three children.
The show is a funny yet honest look at Paul’s strict adherence to his ‘8 rules for dating his teenage daughters’ and, in later seasons, Cate’s parenting challenges after the sudden loss of Paul as she navigates life as a single parent.
Bridget, the eldest daughter, is boy-crazy. The middle child, Kerry, is intelligent but socially awkward, and the youngest child, Rory, is a mischievous one.
The series depicts the day-to-day situations, relationships, trials, and tribulations of a family trying to cope with growing up in a chaotic but loving home.
Hung, HBO (2009 – 2011)
After a series of failures, Ray discovers a special talent as a male escort. With the help of his passionate but inexperienced business partner, Tanya, Ray enters the world of Happiness Consultants, a male escorting business.
He juggles his new job with hiding from his teenage children and maintaining a sense of normalcy in his everyday life.
As Ray tries to solve his financial problems in unconventional ways, the show depicts the comical and sometimes awkward situations he faces as he navigates the morally gray world of gigolos.
Undateable, NBC (2014 – 2016)
Undateable is a sitcom set in Detroit that centers on a group of quirky friends who hang out at a local bar.
The show focuses on Danny, a confident and somewhat immature womanizer, and his new pals: Justin, a sweet guy who owns a bar; Brett, the gay co-worker and friend; Burski, a lovable but socially awkward friend; and Shelly, an oddball but charming man.
They all seem undateable on the surface, but Danny tries to use his experience in dating women to help them improve their dating lives.
The series humorously explores their misadventures in the dating world, their amusing interactions, and the dynamics among the friends as they navigate relationships, love, and life while spending time in their favorite hangout spot in Detroit.
Rita Rocks, Lifetime (2008 – 2009)
Set in the Metropolitan Detroit area is Rita Rocks, which tells the story of Rita, a wife and mother who rediscovers her passion for music when she starts a garage band.
Rita is exhausted by her busy life. Feeling suffocated, she decides to rekindle her love of music by secretly jamming out in the garage with her eccentric neighbor Patty and a few other friends – including a mailwoman and her daughter’s boyfriend!
The show follows Rita as she tries to keep her new music line a secret while juggling family, work, and pursuing her passions.
American Auto, NBC (2021 – 2023)
American Auto is a sitcom set in the headquarters of Payne Motors, an iconic American car company based in Detroit.
The show revolves around the workplace dynamics among the diverse group of employees at Payne Motors and mainly follows the newly hired marketing director, who’s an outsider to the auto industry, as she attempts to navigate the company’s unique corporate culture.
From the quirky executives to the passionate workers on the factory floor, the series portrays the challenges, absurdities, and camaraderie within the company as they strive to revamp the struggling automobile brand and cope with the ever-evolving landscape of the automotive industry.
4400, The CW (2021 – 2022)
This reboot of the 2004 series centers on the sudden return of 4400 individuals who went missing over several decades and reappear at a lake in Detroit.
These returnees, who possess mysterious abilities, find themselves thrust back into a world that has moved on without them.
The series follows the characters’ struggles to reintegrate into society while dealing with their newfound powers and the repercussions of being gone for years.
As tensions rise between the returnees and the rest of the world, a government agency investigates the mystery behind their disappearance and reappearance, trying to understand the truth behind this unexplained phenomenon in the heart of Detroit.