Explore the American Midwest through the fascinating lens of television series set in Missouri!
These TV series brightly depict the diverse culture, rich history, and unique experiences that this Midwestern state has to offer, from bustling urban settings to quaint small-town charm.
Whether you’re interested in exploring the dynamic St. Louis or losing yourself in the serene beauty of the Ozarks, these TV shows set in Missouri give you a glimpse into the fascinating tapestry of life in this renowned American state.
Superstore, NBC (2015 – 2021)
Superstore is set in St. Louis, Missouri – one of the largest cities in the state.
Naturally, the perpetually busy city would have its own big box store! In this NBC’s comedy series, the lives and interactions of the staff members at the Cloud 9 superstore are documented.
The diverse group of employees (including their Honduran-American manager Amy, college student Jonah, vegan assistant manager Dina, and many more) manages the difficulties and quirks of their work while establishing deeper connections with each other, dealing with personal issues, and finding humor amidst the monotonous daily grind.
Switched at Birth, Freeform (2011 – 2017)
Freeform’s Switched at Birth takes place in the Kansas City, Missouri area.
Bay Kennish and Daphne Vasquez, two teenage girls, learn they were mistakenly switched at birth in the hospital, and the series centers on how their lives change drastically after this discovery, especially after they learn more about who their families were supposed to be.
The show delves into the intertwined lives of the two families as they all try to deal with the complexities of this revelation, exploring the difficulties and changes they must make to redefine their sense of identity, family dynamics, and relationships.
Ozark, Netflix (2017 – 2022)
Netflix’s Ozark is a TV show set in the rural areas of the Lake of the Ozarks region in Missouri.
Jason Bateman plays family man Marty Byrde, a self-employed financial advisor with a sinister secret: he and his partner have been using their business to launder money for a Mexican drug cartel.
He offers to set up a larger operation for them by the Lake of the Ozarks when things go wrong with their operations and his family’s lives are put in jeopardy.
After moving his entire family right away, they quickly come into contact with the neighborhood gangs and even the Kansas City Mafia.
Sharp Objects, HBO (2018)
HBO really never disappoints with delivering the most gripping TV thrillers, and Sharp Objects is no exception.
Set in the small Missouri town of Wind Gap, the series follows journalist Camille Preaker while reporting on the murder of two young girls in her hometown.
Camille is tasked with solving the mystery surrounding the horrific killings despite being estranged from her family and troubled by her own past.
She becomes involved in the intricate relationships between the people of Wind Gap, including her own dysfunctional family, and must face her personal demons and navigate the sinister secrets that have dogged the community for years.
The Thing About Pam, NBC (2022)
The Thing About Pam is one for all my fellow true crime buffs out there, and if you’re familiar with the case of Pamela Hupp and the murder of Betsy Faria, you’ll want to watch NBC’s take on it.
It centers mainly on Pam Hupp, the murder victim’s best friend, whose testimony that she was the last person to see Betsy alive was crucial in Russ, Betsy’s husband, being found guilty.
His conviction is overturned, though, and attention is focused on Pam as the investigators’ suspicions grow with each variation in Pam’s testimony and as more information about Pam’s life comes to light.
The Act, Hulu (2019)
Continuing in the vein of true crime case adaptations for the small screen, Hulu’s The Act centers on the case of Dee Dee Blanchard and her daughter Gypsy Rose.
It showcases the mother-daughter relationship and how Gypsy gradually learns the truth about the Munchausen syndrome by proxy she has lived with her entire life.
When she asks her boyfriend for assistance, and their plan goes several steps too far, viewers will begin to understand why she thought taking someone else’s life might have been her only chance at a proper life.
Masters of Sex, Showtime (2013 – 2016)
The Missouri-set Masters of Sex tells the story of Dr. William Masters and Virginia Johnson, who both led a team at the helm of groundbreaking scientific investigations and general research on human sexuality from the 1950s and 1960s.
Their work aimed to improve our knowledge of the causes and treatment of sexual disorders as well as the nature of the human response to sexuality.
Through their work, they sought to comprehend and unpack sexual behavior, but because these issues were still so taboo at the time, the show also reveals the societal backlash and personal difficulties they had to endure.
Fargo (season 4), FX (2014 – present)
Fargo is a popular anthological series where each season features a new place, a new era, and new characters.
In Missouri-based season 4, two criminal organizations under the leadership of Loy Cannon and Josto Fadda compete for control of organized crime in the 1950s.
Their struggle for control worsens the situation in Kansas City, Missouri, sparking a string of bloody clashes and unforeseen allies.
An assortment of colorful characters, including law enforcement and civilians, who are all navigating the chaotic landscape of crime and ambition, are unintentionally drawn into the conflict between these factions.
Defiance, Syfy (2013 – 2015)
Defiance takes place in the post-apocalyptic near-future titular Missouri town and depicts a divided Earth with the human Earth Republic and the alien Votanis Collective.
Joshua Nolan, a veteran of the war that led to this rift, and his adopted alien daughter Irisa have arrived in the town, where the cultures of humans and aliens coexist.
Joshua, who has been appointed as the town’s new sheriff, fights to keep the peace between the two species and keep the town impartial in the conflict.
He also looks into possible connections between Irisa’s past and the history of the town as he uncovers conspiracies surrounding both her and Defiance.
Grace Under Fire, ABC (1993 – 1998)
Telling the story of nontraditional, non-nuclear families, ABC’s Grace Under Fire is set in the fictional Missouri town of Victory.
There we meet Grace Kelly, a single mother attempting to mend her life after divorce and addiction.
Grace struggles with the difficulties of raising a family by herself while juggling a job and three kids.
With the help of her friends and the occasional comic relief they provide, she manages the ups and downs of daily life while attempting to move past her past and build a stable future for her family despite facing both financial and personal challenges.
Childhood’s End, Syfy (2015)
Childhood’s End portrays how Earth changes after the mysterious alien Overlords arrive and is set in several different places, including Missouri.
They put an end to all wars, resolve world problems, and usher in a new era of peace and prosperity under Karellen’s leadership.
As humans adjust to the aliens’ rule, the story focuses on farmer Ricky Stormgren and other people.
Questions about the Overlords’ true motives quickly start to be raised. Moral concerns eventually arise between those who embrace utopian changes and those who are afraid of the price of this supposedly perfect world.
Resurrection, ABC (2014 – 2015)
Moving away from aliens but keeping in the realm of science fiction is ABC’s Resurrection, which takes place in the city of Arcadia, Missouri, where the residents’ deceased relatives have begun to come back to life, seemingly unchanged and unaware of their… former predicament.
As they struggle with the bizarre and emotional ramifications of the returned, the story unfolds through the eyes of a variety of characters, including family members and authorities.
Relationships are put to the test, and the line separating life and death becomes hazy, leading to existential questions and societal tensions.
The Unit, CBS (2006 – 2009)
The Unit does not explicitly state that it’s set in Missouri, but eagle-eyed and keen-eared viewers may be able to spot the easter eggs that are a dead giveaway!
The series follows a prestigious special forces team called, predictably, The Unit.
Under the direction of Jonas Blane, the group conducts covert operations all over the world to safeguard national security.
Their professional lives are kept a secret, even from their families, as they work on important assignments.
The contrast between their emotionally taxing secrecy and the sacrifices that come with it and their action-packed missions highlights the complexity of their dual identities.
Mama’s Family, NBC/Syndicated (1983 – 1990)
We’re going back in time with Mama’s Family, an NBC sitcom that aired throughout the 1980s.
The quirky Harper family serves as the focal point, which is set in a suburb of Missouri called Raytown.
Thelma Harper, being the matriarch of the family and going by the alias Mama, frequently has disagreements with her son, Vinton, and his wife, Naomi.
The show portrays the interactions and hilarious fights among the extended family and neighbors, which also includes Mama’s eccentric sister Fran and her son Bubba.
Mama’s sharp wit and strong opinions are the show’s running gag as the center of the family’s many comedic misadventures.
The Soul Man, TV Land (2012 – 2016)
The setting of The Soul Man is St. Louis, Missouri, and follows Reverend Boyce Ballentine, a former RandB singer who became a preacher.
He moves his family to his father’s church after coming to faith and accepting his new calling.
Boyce manages the difficulties of juggling his musical past with his spiritual present, often to comedic effect, largely due to his wife and children’s opposition to the change from the high life in Las Vegas to a quieter, humble life in St. Louis.
The dynamics of the Ballentine family and their interactions with the church membership are front and center in this charming family sitcom.
The John Larroquette Show, NBC (1993 – 1996)
The John Larroquette Show is set in a bus station in St. Louis, Missouri, and centers around the life of recovering alcoholic John Hemingway.
While working as the bus station’s night manager, he interacts with an oddball cast of people who are passing through.
The program focuses on John’s daily struggles, inner conflicts, and efforts to stay sober while interacting with the station’s peculiar staff and customers.
Each episode even focuses on one aspect of AA’s twelve-step recovery program!
The series offers a unique backdrop of a busy bus terminal with a blend of humor and heartfelt moments.
On Our Own, ABC (1994 – 1995)
Set in St. Louis, On Our Own centers on the seven Jerrico siblings.
They try to stay together after their parents pass away by hiding their situation from the authorities in order to prevent being split up.
Josh, the oldest, takes on the guardianship role, and with the aid of his siblings, they manage to get by in daily life while avoiding the prying eyes of social services.
The series offers a glimpse of what it might entail to maintain some level of normalcy while attempting to preserve a family unit in the absence of adult supervision – albeit a fictional and humorous one!
Jack and Bobby, The WB (2004 – 2005)
The drama series Jack and Bobby (which is a reference to the real-life Kennedy brothers, John and Rober) depicts the lives of two brothers named Jack and Bobby McCallister in the made-up town of Hart, Missouri.
The show employs a dual timeline structure, focusing on both their teenage years and a future in which one of them rises to prominence in politics – though it isn’t revealed which one of them becomes the President until the end of the first episode.
Their interactions, personal development, and aspirations are all explored during the show, as is how their mother, Grace, guides them along their journey.
Malcolm & Eddie, UPN (1996 – 2000)
The comedic misadventures of two mismatched roommates, Malcolm McGee and Eddie Sherman, are chronicled in the Kansas City, Missouri, setting of Malcolm and Eddie.
Eddie is a quick-talking hustler, and Malcolm is a struggling author.
They decide to purchase the entire building in which their apartment is located after finding themselves with a large sum of money.
This includes a bar, which serves as the show’s focal point and demonstrates how the characters manage their conflicting personalities.
Viewers witness their struggles to keep the bar afloat while interacting with a colorful cast of characters, including the eccentric customers.
AfterMASH, CBS (1983 – 1985)
Fans of the pop culture icon M*A*S*H have the opportunity to continue the fun with AfterMASH, the sequel that continues the story of three main characters: Colonel Potter, Klinger, and Father Mulcahy.
The spin-off takes place in a veterans hospital in Missouri and follows their post-Korean War lives as they negotiate their positions in the hospital’s civilian setting.
The characters develop new relationships with the hospital staff and patients while dealing with both medical cases and personal difficulties.
The program honors the legacy of M*A*S*H while fusing comedy and drama to depict the changes and experiences of these adored characters in a new setting.