Smart Girls Who Do Stupid Things

Sometimes…

Do You See The Similarities?

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Between Drake’s album cover for Take Care

and Degas’ “L’Absinthe”?

Because I do.

Things About Chicago ‘Happy Endings’ Gets Wrong

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Or, “Things That TV Gets Wrong About Chicago”

Editor’s Note: I’ve written about the importance of getting the place right in television before. Emily has recently THANK GOD started watching Happy Endings , and it’s started to bug her too.

You know how when you’re learning a new language, you have to think about every grammatical rule just to ask where the goddamn bathroom is? Is it “por” or “para,” preterite or imperfect, masculine or feminine? And you know how one day, when you get kinda good at it, all of sudden things start to sound right or sound wrong? You don’t know why it’s “el dia” when it should obviously be “la dia,” but it is, and your ears know it even if your brain can’t articulate why.

My Spanish is rusty as hell, but I’m find that the same principle applies to geographic familiarity. ‘Live in a place long enough and you start to get a linguistic and visual sixth sense for when people are talking about it wrong. Before you can even begin to identify what’s sounding alarm bells, the hair on your arms is standing up and your hackles, whatever they are, are raised.

I just had my five year anniversary with Chicago and I feel like I’m finally achieving that level of comfort with the quirks of this city. I even have evidence. I’m currently catching up on Chicago-based sitcom Happy Endings, and in a bit about Penny burning down her apartment building, this visual gag flashed on my screen:

No big thing, right? Fake address of fake burning building on a fake tv show. False. This is big fucking deal. Every single alarm bell went off. I hadn’t even been paying very close attention, but I knew in my gut something was very, very wrong. I paused, rewound, and freeze-framed. I don’t even know where to begin:

1. Clybourn does not have an “E.”
2. Those are not Chicago apartment buildings. They’re just not.
3. Nobody lives 42 blocks east of anything in Chicago. No matter where you are, 4200 E Whatever will put you squarely in Lake Michigan.
4. Clybourn is a North/South diagonal, not East/West. Everyone knows this.
5. Most importantly, even if they meant 4200 N Clybourn (no E), that would be Roscoe Village. Penny is not the type of character that lives in Roscoe Village. She’s more of a River North/Gold Coast girl. Possibly Lakeview, possibly Wrigley. Definitely not Roscoe.

The point is, I knew that it was all wrong before I could tell you why. I’m not sure exactly what that means for me and Chicago, but I think it must mean good things. As for the writers of Happy Endings…. hire a fucking fact-checker.

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