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Ranking the American Cities With the Best Taste in TV and Film

By Dustin Rowles | Lists | June 10, 2010 |

By Dustin Rowles | Lists | June 10, 2010 |

There is nothing particular scientific about the list I’m about to present in ranking 20 major American cities in terms of their taste in films and television. But before you quibble too much, remember that you’re reading a site called Pajiba. This is not for publication in a scientific journal. It is not being presented to Time magazine. It is for our own enjoyment.

That said, while there are certainly flaws in the methodology I came up with, I thought it was at least a creative, if not infinitely time-consuming endeavor (and all I have to show for it is a list of 20 cities, ranked). The methodology was as follows: If you check Netflix, you’re able to scan the top rentals or Instant Watch titles in any given area. I compiled the top 20 titles in the given cities and then assigned an IMDB user rating to each title. So, for instance, in Chicago, one of the top viewed titles was Wilco’s documentary, I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, which has a 7.4 iMDB user rating. I added up all the user ratings of the 20 titles in each city and came up with a total score. Finally, I ranked them in order from highest to lowest.

Are there problems with that methodology? Of course. The top 20 titles checked out at any given time do not necessarily represent the film and television tastes of the entire city. Perhaps a school class had assigned students to watch A Man for All Seasons, which would’ve boosted its ranking in that city. Moreover, Netflix users may not be a proper sampling of film and television watchers in any given city. Finally, many of the titles in each of those top 20 are there because that particular film was made or about that particular city, or because of something currently going on in that town. People in L.A. are watching lot of the Kobe Bryant documentary. Slap Shot ranked high in Chicago, for instance, because of the Blackhawks’ presence in the Stanley Cup, while there were also several political documentaries and television shows being watched in Washington, DC, as you’d expect from a political town. Moreover, Baltimore’s ranking is likely skewed high because so many people in that city are watching the highly rated “The Wire,” in part because it was filmed there.

Moreover, the iMDB user ratings may not be the best indicator of the actual quality of the film or television show, as the people inclined to see a particular movie are probably also inclined to give it a higher score. If you’re from Houston or Philadelphia, maybe you argue with the methodology. If you’re from Portland, Oregon or Austin, maybe you don’t.

Nevertheless, I thought it was an interesting and enlightening challenge (although somewhat tedious to put together). I would also note that the 20 cities chosen to be ranked were selected because they had the highest number of Pajiba readers, as evidenced by our site statistics over the last year. If your city is not on this list, I apologize, but there had to be a cutoff at some point (and you might take comfort in the fact that the city I live in is only ranked 70th).

Now with that out of the way, here it is: Twenty Major American Cities Ranked by Their Taste in Film and Television.

1. Minneapolis

2. Washington DC

3. Portland, Oregon

4. Boston

5. Baltimore

6. Denver

7. Austin

8. San Diego

9. New York City

10. Brooklyn

11. Chicago

12. San Francisco

13. Dallas

14. Seattle

15. Los Angeles

16. Columbus, OH

17. Phoenix

18. Pittsburgh

19. Philadelphia

20. Houston

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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