When you arrived in our wonderful country you maybe wondered if all the clichés were true. You know what I’m talking about: the mills, clogs, tulips, cheese. Because we have to admit it, that’s the image the world has of our small country. It’s mainly the media who create this image and sometimes that could lead to false assumptions and a wrong impression of the Netherlands. Time to fix the damage. And where to start? Exactly, with all the (great!) American TV shows we watch on a regular basis.
TV series that gave you the wrong impression of the Netherlands
So which TV series are responsible for your misjudgment? We made a list:
1. Designated Survivor
I have to say, as a Dutchie I really enjoy this series. It has all the dramatic aspects and complications I want from a show. The first season was very impressing. But then, in the second season, I was… stupefied. The first episode made me… laugh? Not a very common reaction to this show.
So what created this moment of laughter? FBI agent Hannah Wells went to Amsterdam, that’s what happened. And it started in a bar. It was supposed to be a Dutch bar – okay, I could live with that. But when the bartender opened his mouth to the other Dutchie in the room, it sounded like a weird Google Translate kind of language with a lot of G-sounds.
But it wasn’t only the language that made me cry tears of joy. The licence plates of cars, the addresses (Antwaldnorrer 53040, seriously?) and the streets are so badly chosen that it’s too obvious the makers didn’t do any research at all.
On the left is the real street in Amsterdam and on the right the version of it in Designated Survivor. Looks nice, though!
Maybe the funniest thing is the address of a random place in Amsterdam. When you search for ‘Dutch address format’ on Google, you come across a webpage with this address (on the right). Doesn’t it look a bit similar to the one on the left?
If you’re a fan of this series (which I am), then you’ll maybe remember some scenes where there was a Dutch character or there were some spoken Dutch words. The rumor even goes that Gunther, the guy who worked in Central Perk and had a huge crush on Rachel, was originally Dutch? Hm, maybe they meant German?
Well, the most striking scene was in season 3, episode 9. The friends are playing rugby outside and come across the Dutch Marga (well, the name is correct), but she doesn’t look or sounds Dutch at all. See for yourself.
3. Modern Family
The Dutch are very popular in the funniest sitcom of the moment. In all of the seasons there are many small references to this country. Luke did a project about Vincent van Gogh, Claire and Phil talked about their time in Amsterdam, there was a football game between the Netherlands and Colombia (and Gloria was very competitive, of course), Manny talked about ‘Dutch chocolates’ (didn’t he mean Belgian?) and, of course, there was a reference to the red light district in Amsterdam by Jay.
Ok, another one. A tiny, little mistake of the producers of Homeland. Not only Dutch people will find this funny, also Germans will recognize it. In one episode we’re supposed to think it’s set in the Zeeburg District in Amsterdam, but it’s actually… Potsdam, near Berlin. Come on guys, it can’t be that hard to make it look real?
So why is it that Americans believe this is what the Netherlands look like and what Dutch people do? We know, we’re not a big country and maybe we don’t really matter for America, but still they chose us in their TV shows and well, that could be something to be proud of. At least YOU know that certain assumptions are not true and hey, that matters the most.
Credits go to Zondag met Lubach for their brilliant research.