Minnesota has been the setting for some of the most interesting and memorable television shows that showcase The North Star State’s unique charm and diverse landscape.
Known for its beautiful scenery, friendly communities, and mix of urban culture and natural wonders, Minnesota provides the perfect setting for compelling stories. Minnesota’s cold winters and vibrant summers are also a hallmark of its appeal.
So, check out this list for some amazing Minnesota-set TV shows!
Happy Town, ABC (2010)
Happy Town revolves around a small town called Haplin, known for its eerie past involving a series of unsolved kidnappings called the Magic Man cases.
The show follows Tommy Conroy, who returns to Haplin as a deputy sheriff, hoping for a fresh start. However, as he settles back into town life, the once-peaceful community is plagued by a new wave of disturbing events that dredge up the town’s dark history and the tragic disappearances of the Magic Man’s seven victims.
Strange occurrences and mysterious characters add to the suspense and tension, unraveling secrets that link to the town’s unsettling past and creating an atmosphere of suspense and uncertainty throughout the series.
The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers, Disney+ (2021 – 2022)
The 90s classic hockey franchise finds its revival in the Disney+ series The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers.
Evan Morrow, a young hockey enthusiast, is kicked out of the famous Mighty Ducks youth hockey team. Feeling alienated by the hyper-competitive culture of the Ducks, Evan decides to start a new team by recruiting a diverse group of people who have a passion for the game but don’t fit the typical hockey mold.
With the help of the Ducks’ original coach, Gordon Bombay, they embark on a journey to challenge the established norms of youth hockey and rediscover the joy of playing the sport without the pressure to win at all costs.
Hannibal, NBC (2013 – 2015)
Hannibal Lecter is such an iconic character, and in the “villain origin story” series, Hannibal, is a perfect addition to the media franchise.
It tells the story of FBI special investigator Will Graham, who has the ability to empathize with criminals. Tasked with tracking down serial killers, Graham forms a complex relationship with the enigmatic psychiatrist Dr. Hannibal Lecter, unaware of Lecter’s own sinister agenda hidden behind his refined taste for art, cooking, and human psychology.
The series delves into Graham and Lecter’s psychological cat-and-mouse game, exploring their complex and evolving roles as Graham battles the demons of his own mind and realizes that the person he trusts the most may be the most dangerous predator.
Coach, ABC (1989 – 1997)
Coach focuses on college football coach Hayden Fox, who is the head coach of the Screaming Eagles at the fictional Minnesota State University.
Hayden is joined by loyal assistant coach Luther Van Dam and a supportive varsity staff as they face the challenges of coaching a team made up of diverse talents and personalities.
Off the football field, the show explores Hayden’s personal life, including his relationship with his girlfriend, Christine Armstrong, and his daughter Kelly, who has enrolled at the university where he works.
Coach Fox’s life is a lighthearted yet insightful portrayal of life as a football coach in the Midwest who balances the demands of coaching and personal relationships.
The Mary Tyler Moore Show, CBS (1970 – 1977)
The Mary Tyler Moore Show revolves around Mary Richards, a single woman who moves to Minneapolis to start a new life.
Landing a job as an associate producer at the fictional WJM-TV newsroom, she navigates the challenges of working in a male-dominated industry under the guidance of her gruff but endearing boss, Lou Grant.
Mary forms close bonds with her co-workers, including her best friend Rhoda Morgenstern, the bubbly and outspoken neighbor Phyllis Lindstrom, and the sarcastic news writer Murray Slaughter.
As Mary tackles her career and personal life, the show humorously portrays the life of a successful and independent woman – a rare sight for a female character in the 1970s!
The Big C, Showtime (2010 – 2013)
The title itself is a hint of a big part of this series’ main character. The Big C follows Cathy Jamison, a high school teacher living in Minneapolis, whose life takes a drastic turn when she receives a terminal cancer diagnosis.
Initially keeping her diagnosis a secret from her family and friends, Cathy decides to live life on her own terms, embracing a more spontaneous and adventurous approach. As she navigates her illness, Cathy grapples with the impact of her diagnosis on her relationships, particularly with her husband Paul, son Adam, and brother Sean.
The show chronicles Cathy’s journey, including her attempts to find humor amidst tragedy, make amends, and pursue newfound experiences while confronting the uncertainties of life and mortality.
Fargo (Seasons 1 to 3), FX (2014 – present)
Though Fargo is still ongoing and currently in its fifth season, it’s the first three seasons that are specifically set in Minnesota.
This darkly comedic anthology series inspired by the Coen Brothers’ film of the same name weaves a distinctive mix of crime and black humor amidst the essence of the Midwest.
The show’s first season revolves around a hapless insurance salesman, Lester Nygaard, whose encounter with a drifter leads to deadly consequences.
Season two delves into the 1979 Sioux Falls massacre, involving a feud between crime families and the police force.
While season three follows a parole officer and his enigmatic client entangled in a feud over a stamp collection.
Get a Life, Fox (1990 – 1992)
Chris Peterson is an eccentric, naive, 30-year-old newspaper delivery boy who lives in an apartment above his parents’ garage in Minnesota.
Get A Life is a chronicle of his life as he struggles with adulthood and often finds himself in absurd situations.
His childish attitude and eccentricities, including finding odd jobs and engaging in outlandish schemes, play into the show’s humor, alongside his relationships with his parents, friend Larry, and various eccentric characters.
Filled with surreal humor and unconventional storytelling, Get A Life follows Chris’ strange and hilariously absurd quest to find his place in the world while living a free and unorthodox lifestyle.
The Tom Show, The WB (1997 – 1998)
The Tom Show centers around Tom Amross, a recently divorced TV weatherman in Minnesota who tries to balance his personal life with his job and responsibilities.
Tom navigates the challenges of being a single father to his two daughters while dealing with the aftermath of his divorce from his high school sweetheart.
His workplace at the TV station provides both comedic and chaotic moments as he interacts with his quirky colleagues, including his boss and the station’s staff.
Throughout the series, Tom grapples with the ups and downs of dating, parenting, and rebuilding his life post-divorce.
Little House on the Prairie, NBC (1974 – 1983)
Little House on the Prairie chronicles the adventures of the Ingalls family, led by Charles and Caroline Ingalls, along with their daughters Laura, Mary, Carrie, and later adopted son Albert, as they settle in Walnut Grove, Minnesota, during the late 19th century.
The series portrays their daily lives as pioneers, facing the challenges of farming, community hardships, and forging relationships with neighbors amidst the backdrop of the expansive and picturesque American frontier.
With heartwarming tales and moral lessons, the show explores various themes that one may not necessarily expect to be salient during those times, like adoption, addiction, and prejudices of various kinds.
Laurel Avenue, HBO (1993)
Laurel Avenue delves into the lives of multiple African-American families residing on Laurel Avenue in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The show focuses on the interconnected stories and experiences of this extended family, highlighting their everyday struggles, relationships, and aspirations.
Set against the backdrop of a tight-knit community, the series explores themes of family dynamics, social issues, and personal challenges faced by the residents, offering a portrayal of life in an urban neighborhood.
Through various characters and their intersecting lives, Laurel Avenue presents a multifaceted view of the African-American experience, addressing issues of identity and community.
The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends, ABC/NBC (1959 – 1964)
One of the oldest shows on our list is The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends, which is a satirical animated series that aired in the early 1960s!
The show follows the escapades of Rocky the Flying Squirrel and Bullwinkle the Moose. The duo, accompanied by other quirky characters like Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale, engage in whimsical and humorous adventures.
Throughout the show, they embark on various missions and encounters, often trying to outsmart the villainous schemes of Boris and Natasha, who work for the antagonistic Fearless Leader.
Their adventures take them to different places and scenarios, showcasing a blend of wit, satire, and slapstick comedy.
Mystery Science Theater 3000 (1998 – 2002)
Mystery Science Theater 3000 revolves around a human host named Joel (later replaced by Mike) who, along with his robot companions Crow T. Robot and Tom Servo, is trapped on a spacecraft by mad scientists. To keep their sanity intact, they watch and mock a series of hilarious B-movies.
Throughout each episode, the characters provide witty and humorous commentary, making jokes and clever remarks while the featured movie plays.
The show’s format involves interspersing these comedic commentaries with skits and banter between the host and the robots.
There was a long gap in production between 1999 and the show’s 11th season in 2017, but it has since continued up to the 13th season in 2022!