Many people will argue that the most interesting things happening in the entertainment world are primarily occurring in television shows, and it’s series like Banshee — a four-season Cinemax original — that are helping to prove it. Many viewers, after getting hooked on the show’s drama and characters, find themselves wondering about its background — is Banshee, PA a real town, and is the criminal drama threaded through the plot actually realistic? Now that the show has wrapped up, these are questions that we can easily answer, alongside a host of others. So whether you’re just tuning into Banshee for the first time, or you were a fan for all of its four seasons, read on for some interesting details about this well-received show!
It’s difficult to say why so many interesting stories are suddenly being told on television, rather than in movies. Many have pointed to the prevalent use of CGI and special effects to deliver extravagant, over-the-top action sequences as recent films’ selling points. Character development often takes a backseat. However, in any type of fictional media, good characters are usually the most compelling part of the entire package. And if we look at those TV series that are extremely popular right now, those with memorable characters are doing best.
There were quite a few reasons to watch Banshee (all of them still quite relevant) but most viewers were predominantly drawn in by the excellent characters and all of the interesting baggage that they carried with them. Lucas Hood was always a compelling protagonist…if we can actually call him a protagonist. The storylines that unfolded as a result of his criminal background, and his continued facade as Banshee’s sheriff, were a blast to watch. The rest of the cast was pretty great, too, and we’d be inclined to give commendation to the setting, as well.
After all, that original question that kicked off this article — whether or not Banshee, PA is a real place — wouldn’t come about if viewers weren’t drawn into the town’s fictional history and rich background.
At its core, Banshee is a show about identities. It’s a facet of every character whose drama takes center stage, and it’s a mainstay theme throughout all four seasons of the show. Lucas Hood, who we follow through all four seasons, never divulges his real name. We know that he’s an ex-con who was serving serious prison time and that his background in crime — as well as his continued pursuit of it — tell us more about him than a name ever could.
Even the town itself faces questions of identity, and not on the meta-scale that we’re going to examine soon.
The show is also ridiculously well-choreographed, and as we’ve seen on other story-heavy series with strong budgets (Game of Thrones comes to mind) the excess of realistic violence in a relatable setting helps to make us truly care about characters’ lives. When danger comes on-screen, we believe in that danger, and it’s all the more reason to hope that nothing bad befalls the characters that we care about.
Chance of Renewal?
When Banshee was first announced, the show was arriving with a slew of others — all products from cable and TV networks that wanted to develop their own, original shows. The trend wasn’t pioneered by Netflix, but they certainly did master it, and other companies have been trying to replicate that success for years.
One of Cinemax’s better efforts to do so was Banshee, and in spite of lackluster first season reviews, the latter three seasons managed to pick up some acclaim and increased viewership. After all, four seasons might not seem like much, but that’s an impressive amount of longevity for any long-form television that isn’t serialized. Each episode of Banshee wasn’t a one-off; it was a long, continuous narrative that mixed in side stories from the show’s various characters.
It’s important to recognize that the show was a success before we look at the reality of its cancellation. After those four seasons, there’s very little chance that it will return, and moreover, there isn’t much reason for it to come back, either. The characters’ stories have largely been concluded in a satisfying way, and the cast and crew responsible for the show have mostly moved on with their careers.
Sad news for die-hard fans? Maybe, but the four seasons that we have are very good!
The Town of Banshee, PA
It should be stated, first and foremost, that Banshee, PA is not a real town. It’s entirely fictional, but there’s a reason that so many viewers are attracted to the idea of it being a real location. As opposed to many shows that are filmed on a stage — and subsequently never feel entirely real as a result — Banshee was always filmed on-location. It makes a difference for the end-result of the show, and for Banshee, it allowed the titular town to always feel grounded in reality. That helped to make the drama feel more real, which allowed us to better connect with the characters.
This has also contributed to the setting of Banshee feeling like a character in and of itself, which we mentioned above. It ties into the characters’ lives in important ways, much in the same way that the characters connect to each other.
Most of the time, on-location filming for large productions only happens in regions that are kind with their taxes. For Banshee, this meant that the first three seasons were going to be filmed in Mooresville, North Carolina, and the surrounding area. As is often the case, locals reveled in the opportunity to have the cast and crew present for much of the city’s everyday living.
But a change in North Carolina tax legislature meant that the show had to pick up its roots and move for the fourth and final season. Ironically, Banshee headed to Pittsburg, PA to continue filming. The Vandergrift suburb received most of the action, and once the series ended, locals were predictably sad to lose both the spotlight and the presence of the show’s crew.
Shows Like Banshee
Of course, the fact that we received four good seasons of Banshee doesn’t do much to assuage the pain of not getting more of it. However, there are quite a few shows out there that are similar enough for fans to enjoy. Below, we’ll introduce you to a few of them.
Surprisingly, Banshee started out being planned for HBO, before it was moved to Cinemax. One of the showrunners responsible for it — Alan Ball — was also the person who headed up True Blood during its more popular seasons. No surprise there, but it does tell us to look towards HBO if we want more of that same caliber of programming.
We recommend that you get started with True Detective. Though the second series of the show wasn’t as well-received as the first, it’s known for giving us dark characters with darker backgrounds and is firmly immersed in the same sort of hard-boiled fiction that inspired Banshee, in the first place. To top it off, each season of True Detective gives you an entirely different story and cast of characters to get attached to.
If you’re looking for something a little more community-focused and intimate — but no less mysterious — I recommend giving HBO’s newest show, Big Little Lies, a viewing. Even though there’s a murder mystery at the heart of this show’s story, it’s more about the friction that occurs between people living close to each other. The main characters of the women-dominated cast are hugely compelling, and the show is responsible for telling one of the most relatable domestic abuse stories that we’ve ever seen in a television show.
Another thrilling drama that’s sure to capture your attention for many of the same reasons is Homeland, an original series developed by Showtime. It’s less about small-town crime and more about the threat of international terrorism, but like Banshee, it’s heavily grounded in the stories of its characters, rather than the larger plot of the show. And it’s an intriguing plot, especially if you’ve been around to witness world conflicts from the past twenty years.
There are more shows, of course, and you don’t have to look very far to find them. The themes and trends that Banshee decided to run with have been in shows for years already, popularized when we were given The Sopranos way back in the early 00’s. Heck, you can even dip back into history and watch that show. Banshee fans will more than likely be satisfied!
If only Banshee, PA was a real town, one that could be seen just as vividly as the show portrays it. Even though it isn’t, there’s nothing stopping you from visiting either of the places that the show was filmed, on-location — Pittsburg or North Carolina. It’s one of the benefits of a show being filmed in places that so closely resemble the production crew is going for. And even though Banshee wrapped up after four seasons, that small-town setting shines through in all of it, providing an environment that’s rich in character history and intrigue.