Florida and TV are a match made in heaven, which is why our state has appeared on the small screen in some form or another since the art form’s inception. Our sandy shores provide the perfect backdrop for all sorts of unique characters, from the good to the bad to the pastel-clad.
What kid wouldn’t want to trade places with Sandy Ricks, who lived in a fictional Florida marine park and was best friends with a dolphin? Flipper was filmed in Miami at Greenwich Studios and at Key Biscayne. (Some of the underwater footage was filmed in Nassau, where the water clarity is more camera friendly.) The Miami Seaquarium on Key Biscayne helped with the show’s production.
I Dream of Jeannie
Astronaut Tony Nelson (Larry Hagman) rescues a sexy 2,000-year-old genie (Barbara Eden) — complete with a pink-and-red harem outfit — from her bottle in this campy classic set in Cocoa Beach. Although the series was set in Florida’s Space Coast, most of the show was filmed in California. The cast and crew did visit Florida in 1969 and were treated to a parade in Cocoa Beach. That same trip, Eden reportedly kissed astronaut Buzz Aldrin on the cheek just a few weeks before his Apollo 11 launch. Eden has continued to visit the Kennedy Space Center over the decades as a guest and featured speaker. In 1996, she was given a “I Dream of Jeannie Lane” street sign, which was later installed on street near a Cocoa Beach park.
Que Pasa USA
The multigenerational Pena family, Cuban immigrants, adapts to life in Miami in the bilingual public-TV series Que Pasa USA, where jokes fly in English, Spanish and Spanglish to boot. Que Pasa USA was taped in front of a live audience at WPBT, a PBS member station in Miami, and aired on PBS stations nationwide. Fans can still watch the episodes on PBS’s official site.
The Golden Girls
Beatrice Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan, and Estelle Getty starred in The Golden Girls, a comedy about retirement-community living that is now a cult classic among the hipster set. Though the setting was in Miami, the show was taped in front of a live studio audience in California. The success of The Golden Girls led to two spinoffs, Empty Nest and Nurses, also both set in Miami.
Florida gets key airtime in this NYC-based series, thanks to Jerry’s and George’s retired parents. Who could forget episode 171 (“The Wizard”), when a visiting Kramer runs for condo-board president of Del Boca Vista? Super fans of this Seinfeld storyline can even buy T-shirts for Del Boca Vista on Cafe Press.
Everybody’s favorite forensic serial killer (brilliantly played by Michael C. Hall) attempts to avenge crime in Miami by upping his personal body count in this multiple Emmy winner from Showtime. Although the show is set in Miami, most of the exterior and building scenes were shot in Long Beach, Calif.
Courtney Cox’s comedic talents shine as a divorced Florida woman in her 40s juggling an ex-husband, new relationships and parenting with the help of her friends — and a lot of wine. Cougar Town was set in fictional Gulf Haven, Florida (which gets the nickname “Cougar Town” because that’s the local high school mascot. Yeah, right). Though the fake “Gulf Haven” was set in real-life Sarasota County, Cougar Town was shot in Hollywood.
Sales of pastel shirts and white suits go through the roof as the country tries to emulate the ’80s fashion sense of Sonny Crockett and Rico Tubbs, two detectives with the Miami Police Department. Unlike many other shows that are set in Florida, Miami Vice was largely filmed in South Beach, Miami, with additional locations in Broward and Palm Beach counties being used. Producers of Miami Vice actually had to spiffy up South Beach with fresh paint and some elbow grease before scenes were shot. The series’ success is one big reason the entire South Beach area saw a renaissance in coming decades.
The All New Mickey Mouse Club
The 1950s franchise is updated for modern audiences, gets a new nickname (The All New Mickey Mouse Club) and acronym (MMC), and propels Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera and Ryan Gosling to stardom. It was shot on the backlot of Disney-MGM Studios (now Disney’s Hollywood Studios) and various locations around Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando from 1989 to 1994, and locals and visitors clamored to be part of the live studio audience for the weekly tapings. The reimagined show throws comedy sketches into the mix — foreshadowing Timberlake’s Saturday Night Live appearances in the 2000s — along with the song-and-dance numbers, setting the stage for Orlando to launch the national acts Backstreet Boys and ‘N Sync (which also featured Timberlake).
This A&E fish-out-of-water drama follows a Chicago homicide detective forced to relocate to a sleepy town in the Florida Everglades. The Glades was originally titled “Sugarloaf” with production set for the Tampa Bay area. Ultimately, the name and filming location changed, with scenes being shot in Pembroke Park, Hollywood and Fort Lauderdale.
Follow Michael Western after getting “burned.” His spy connection to an espionage organization is terminated, leaving him without access to cash or influence in Miami. Like Miami Vice and The Glades, Burn Notice was actually filmed in Miami, with a permanent set being built inside the former Coconut Grove Convention Center.
The Rayburns are hard-working pillars of their Florida Keys community, but their past contains dark secrets that they hope remain buried. This Netflix original series is shot on location in the Florida Keys. The upcoming third season, however, will be the last for Bloodline. The cancelation is in part, producers conceded, by the high cost of filming in that remote area of Florida.