The Big Easy

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New Orleans was the first city to offer indoor absinthe faucets, and indeed has always played a cosmopolitan and libertine ragtime beneath America's generally dull Sousa march of rural piety. ...a haven for vampires, video-poker enthusiasts, and sub-sea level drinkers of all ages.
John Hodgman, The Areas of My Expertise

New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, as seen in the media. One of the most "exotic" cities in America, it has a distinctive culture due to its Deep South location, French roots, and Vice City status, and writers go crazy over it.

The town is always surrounded by swamps and alligators. The swamps, of course, are always a mere two minute jog from the French Quarter (which tends to comprise the entire city): a convenient change of scenery for the protagonist chasing a bad guy. Said chase scene will inevitably run into a Mardi Gras parade, because It's Always Mardi Gras in New Orleans. All the black people are either voodoo priests or related to one, you can always expect a reference to the city's famous cooking, and I gerr-on-tee at least one local will have a Creole accent thicker than gumbo.

Anne Rice of The Vampire Chronicles fame later introduced (or at least popularized) a "horror" version of New Orleans, in which the town is full of zombies, voodoo priestesses, ghosts, vampires, mausoleums, and creepy but elegantly gothic antebellum architecture. It has quickly become a standard trope about New Orleans by itself.

Most depictions of New Orleans depict the "Big Easy" as it existed before Hurricane Katrina nearly destroyed it in 2005. Exactly how long it will take Hollywood and the networks to catch up remains unclear. A TV series set in post Katrina New Orleans entitled "K-Ville" aired briefly on Fox in late 2007, but for many producers it's still Too Soon. The first season of Treme, a post-Katrina New Orleans drama, created by David Simon (of The Wire fame), aired on HBO beginning in April 2010 . Disney sought to bring the original Big Easy image back to popularity with The Princess and the Frog, which incorporates all of the elements mentioned in the above description.

Useful Note: Locals don't call it "The Big Easy"; they just call it New Orleans. Which may or may not sound like "N'awlins" depending on who you're speaking to. Native New Orleanian pronunciation guide: Orleans has three syllables and no "R." Elsewhere in the south it varies. Important: New Orleans doesn't rhyme with "evergreens." Another nickname is "The Crescent City".

There's also a film called The Big Easy which is, of course, a neo-noir thriller set during the eternal Heat Wave that softens people up in New Orleans and motivates them to get out on the streets.

Examples of The Big Easy include:

Comic Books[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Gambit of the X-Men is nothing more than a collection of various stereotypes about thieves and Cajuns all rolled into one that has only recently been given any major Character Development. He was raised by your run-of-the-mill Cajun thieves' guild after being kidnapped at birth, and their leader was advised by a black Catholic voodoo priestess type! He has a Cajun accent so hardcore that even the writers of the X-Men books can't help but parody it now and then! Every time Gambit has a few issues in New Orleans, he WILL have scenes in either the swamps and/or the French Quarter and some mention of gumbo or jambalaya WILL be made, I gerr-on-tee it.
    • One time he took the X-Men with him where they were seen enjoying Mardi Gras.
    • His first appearance was set during Mardi Gras, too.
  • A 2008 issue of Justice Society of America featured the team helping local superhero Amazing Man rebuild in Katrina's wake.
  • Alley-Kat-Abra of Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew hails from its Earth-C counterpart, "Mew Orleans." While Its Always Mardi Gras In Mew Orleans shows up (the visiting Zoo Crew, looking for Alley, run into Mew Orleans' Mardi Gras parade), the other tropes are largely unused (aside from Alley's interest in the occult).
  • Valiant Comics Shadowman features a hero from New Orleans, and shades of voodoo as well.
  • Swamp Thing is based on the Louisiana swamps and the films are based on there too.
  • The 2008 Daimon Hellstrom miniseries is based in New Orleans and occasionally talks about the city's post-Katrina efforts, but the series makes almost no use of the setting's usual relationship with the supernatural (the villains were the Egyptian gods, of all things).
  • The fourth Blacksad album is set here.


Film[edit | hide]

  • Live and Let Die
  • The film Angel Heart manages to work in Mardi Gras, Voodoo, a hard boiled detective AND the Devil. a regular spicy gumbo!
  • The movie Undercover Blues has a married pair of spies on vacation in a version of New Orleans that fits this trope to a T. Of course, their vacation doesn't last long, leading to all the exciting action and chase scene possibilities that Hollywood New Orleans offers.
  • The eponymous locale of The Big Easy is depicted as sex, dangerous, atmospheric, and populated mainly by wiseguys (Mafioso) and Cajuns -- even though the Cajuns are traditionally farming people of rural South Louisiana. New Orleans' native Creoles are a different ethnic group entirely.
  • Disney's The Princess and the Frog takes place here during The Roaring Twenties.
  • Largely averted when Wolverine heads here in X-Men Origins to find Gambit who, surprisingly, is toned down a lot from his comic persona.
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (film only: the short story is set in Baltimore), though the portrayal is far from stereotypical.
  • Son of Dracula is set around here. Main villain even hides in the swamps.
  • The beginning and end of Last Holiday starring Queen Latifah both take place in a pre-Katrina New Orleans. The movie mostly subverts this trope as it shows New Orleans as it really looks on any given day, even with the street car shots. The one stereotype used is that Georgia, the main character, is a great cook who has aspirations of owning a restaurant. Disney must have been inspired.
  • All Dogs Go to Heaven
  • 1939 version of The Cat and the Canary moves the West mansion into Louisiana bayou.
  • The Cincinnati Kid is set in '30s New Orleans.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • The book Zombie Queen by Donald Whittington takes place in the haunted, zombie version of New Orleans.
  • Genua, a small city-state in Discworld is based upon New Orleans, again featuring a mix of Mardi Gras and zombies.
  • Robert Asprin's fantasy novel Dragons Wild, depicts the life of regular residents of the French Quarter, which is where Asprin lived in real life. Oddly, while 9/11 is mentioned several times, there is no mention whatsoever of Katrina. Following Asprin's sudden death, whether the hurricane was going to happen "later" in a sequel, or he was engaging in a bit of wish fulfillment may never be known.
    • The second book was going to deal with Katrina. Long story short, dragons fighting each other directly tends to have an effect much like Highlander Immortals killing one another on sacred ground.
      • The second book in the series has been published posthumously; again no mention of Katrina, but with the action building clearly towards some variety of all-out dragon-on-dragon fight. Likely Katrina would have arrived sooner or later.
  • Sherilyn Kenyon's Dark Hunter series of romance novels is set almost entirely in New Orleans and environs, and fills the city with vampires, vampire hunters, gods, shapeshifters, demons, and other supernatural beings that manage somehow to remain an urban myth despite seemingly outnumbering the human population two to one.
    • And dating a few of the wackier human natives to boot.
  • Poppy Z. Brite, a New Orleans native, also sets most (but not all) of the action of her novels there. In Lost Souls there's no less than seven vampires (albeit several are fairly minor characters) and a creepy voodoo shop ran by a guy obsessed with his dead brother.
  • A Confederacy of Dunces: The protagonist considers New Orleans the center of the world and is horrified of the thought of moving as far as Baton Rouge.
  • Dean Koontz's Frankenstein trilogy is set here. For some reason, the final book was delayed for years after Katrina, leading readers to expect monsters to attack amidst a city-wrecking hurricane. It didn't happen.
  • Andrew Fox, also a New Orleans native, wrote two vampire books set in New Orleans: Fat White Vampire Blues and Bride of the Fat White Vampire. Although he averts most of the stereotypes and gives a fairly accurate depiction of the city, it's still about vampires and how the city is secretly controlled by them. Of course, it's also a parody. In fact, in the first novel, The Big Bad and his crew have their HQ beneath Harrah's Casino in downtown New Orleans. The series has also been called a cross between Interview with the Vampire and A Confederacy of Dunces. Although, Jules Duchon is far more likable than Ignatious J. Riley.
  • In Wild Cards, when the committee goes to New Orleans to help evacuate and strengthen the dikes before a hurricane, they come across a local ace whose power is to animate zombies.
  • Mark Kelly, from the first part of Princess of Wands, works in the New Orleans Police Department, with a few scenes in the city, and much of the rest of the segment out in the swamp areas in the vicinity.
  • Arthur Hailey's Hotel is set in New Orleans, as is the 1967 film version. Aaron Spelling's 1980s TV version moves the locale to San Francisco, however.


Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

  • A post-Katrina example: Heroes had an entire sub-arc set in a New Orleans filled with poverty and related misfortunes.
  • Bones had another post-Katrina example-Brennan was down identifying victims of the flood and gets tangled up in the grisly voodoo underworld.
  • Abby Sciuto from NCIS hails from New Orleans and points out in the third season opener that the jazz music occurs after the burial.
  • The short-lived FOX cop drama K-Ville dealt with two police officers trying to keep the peace in post-Katrina New Orleans, when a good chunk of the police force had left with the rest of the refugees.
    • The show quickly quickly became notorious for its inaccuracies, especially a mention of "gumbo parties" in the first episode. This was referenced in Treme, where a tourist asks about gumbo parties during Mardi Gras and is told "We don't call them that."
  • The HBO series Treme ("Tre-may") lampshades this trope constantly. The show takes place largely in the Treme, a specific part of New Orleans, and frequently ridicules this trope and the lopsided media attention certain sectors of New Orleans received just after Katrina.
  • There was a '90s detective series titled The Big Easy.
    • And one in the '60s called Bourbon Street Beat.
  • The Hardy Boys Nancy Drew Mysteries episode Voodoo Doll' runs rampant with this trope. The brothers visit New Orleans during Mardi Gras and run afoul of a Voodoo Priest, complete with Voodoo Tarot Cards and ritual dancing in the middle of the nearby swamp.
  • Minor character Detective Will LaMontagne from Criminal Minds is from New Orleans and in "Jones", there were mentions of Mardi Gras and Hurricane Katrina that took Will's father's life.
  • The Too Good to Last '80s dramedy Frank's Place was set in New Orleans.


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • Old World of Darkness, no doubt inspired by Anne Rice, has a book dedicated to New Orleans as a vampire-focused horror setting. It has a rather unintentionally comic section talking about New Orleans' extensive subway system (which is practically infeasible due to the city's notoriously unstable soil).
    • The remake of this book for the New World of Darkness avoids this, thankfully. However, since it was written before Katrina hit, it describes New Orleans as it was before the hurricane came through... and, in a small sidebar that's half unintended Call Forward, half Funny Aneurysm Moment, describes how an impending city-destroying hurricane strike might be included in the plot....
  • There is a Call of Cthulhu (tabletop game) scenario "Dead Man Stomp" set in a horror version of New Orleans, in which a young trumpet player gets a trumpet cursed with voodoo that can raise the dead.


Theme Parks[edit | hide]

  • Disneyland has a whole area dedicated to New Orleans. Disney World changes it to a colonial themed area, but there are still many elements that stick.


Videogames[edit | hide]


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Scooby Doo on Zombie Island has the gang from Mysteries, Inc. going to New Orleans, and running into, you guessed it, zombies.
    • They go back later on in an episode of the 2002 series, this time running into ghosts (of two soldiers from the Civil War).
  • Parodied in The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase, where Chief Wiggum moves to New Orleans and is visited by the Simpsons. "Chief Wiggum, I can't wait to hear about all the exciting, sexy adventures you're sure to have against this colorful backdrop," Lisa Lampshades.
    • Also, so-called "New Orleans Native" Skinner doesn't even know it's Mardi Gras until somebody opens up a window and there's a massive float passing by.
    • Don't forget "Oh, Streetcar!", a musical version of "A Streetcar Named Desire" that Marge stars in, with its song so catchy, offensive, and accurate that it could easily serve as the page quote if we didn't have three already.
  • Bill Dauterive in King of the Hill turns out to be related to a very wealthy cajun family of semi-aristocrats living in a decaying mansion in the middle of a louisiana swamp. Happily, the scenes actually in New Orleans are completely free of this trope.
  • An episode of Captain Planet took place in New Orleans and featured voodoo priestesses, debauchery on Bourbon Street and bayou people living in the swamp (which is interestingly a stone's throw away from the French Quarter).
  • Episode 12 of The Amazing Chan and The Chan Clan displayed this trope, right down to the Mardi Gras celebration.