That’s Not Leesburg: A Look at The Millers

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By Megan Cohen

After 250 years of having gone relatively unnoticed, Leesburg has finally made it onto CBS–or at least a variation of Leesburg. Greg Garcia’s The Millers, which premiered last year, follows Nathan Miller (portrayed by Arrested Development’s Will Arnett) in the aftermath of his recent divorce and his relationship with his mildly dysfunctional family, all of which takes place in Loudoun County. This would be considered a surprising choice of setting if it weren’t for the fact that Garcia is a native of northern Virginia himself. After all, Leesburg is not a particularly significant place on the map.

Just one episode, however, will show that despite having come from this very area, Garcia hasn’t exactly created an accurate portrayal of the Leesburg we call home. Obviously, you’re not going to see Tally Ho or Ida Lee on a primetime sitcom, but almost every shot of the “town” strikes all Leesburgians as unfamiliar.

For one thing, seeing a pretty brownstone surrounded by cherry blossoms like the one Nathan lives in is as unlikely as hitting a kangaroo while driving on Route 15. Leesburg happens to have some beautiful neighborhoods, yet none of them are depicted, replaced by urban-esque streets that cannot be found anywhere around here. Another odd detail of Nathan’s life is his career: he’s a local news anchor. It’s notable, albeit nitpicky, to mention that Leesburg doesn’t have its own news station, nor does any town that’s in such close proximity to Washington, D.C.

Again, it would be unrealistic to expect an exact replica of Leesburg, but hardly anything  depicted on the show is matching up with the reality of Loudoun. Nathan’s sister and brother-in-law own a vegan cafe/yoga studio, which sounds far too alternative for such a historical town. Sure, we have a gas station and restaurant hybrid, but The Millers continues to fuse city culture with the suburban area.

But this is understandable. Some of the most famous sitcoms, such as Seinfeld and Friends, take place in New York City and other urban areas. Why is this? Simply put, entertainment is not supposed to be reminiscent of our own lives. It’s why it appeals to so many people: it’s new and it’s different. Even those that actually live in major cities don’t always relate to film and television (ask any New Yorker if their apartment is like Rachel and Monica’s).

If Leesburg was portrayed to a tee on The Millers, who’s to say that would be any more satisfying than what is currently on air? Ultimately, a show that only reflects our current lifestyle is not going to be as interesting as one that allows us to see another.

So while we’re not going to feel right at home watching Nathan Miller navigate the streets during his news segment, we can at least appreciate the idea of entertainment and the purpose it serves, which is to ultimately give us an inside look at different walks of life.