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7 Austin-related TV shows to binge right now

From live music to the living dead

The Leftovers in Lockhart
HBO

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There are many things to love about Austin (101 of them, at minimum). Unfortunately, many of the places we cherish are closed right now due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On top of that, we’ve been ordered to stay at home for the foreseeable future.

Luckily, Austin is also a font of all kinds of creativity—including the televisual kind. In addition to spawning a bunch of top-notch filmmakers and providing shooting locations and skilled crews for many a movie, it has become a popular spot for the setting of, making of, or inspiration for its fair share of episodic series.

For your viewing pleasure, then, here are seven Austin-related shows that you can stream or rent online right now—all well worth revisiting or discovering for the first time.

Austin City Limits

Several seasons of the studio show that birthed an international musical reputation, a festival, an excellent downtown venue, and many magical experiences—starting in 1975 and continuing to this day—can now be streamed on PBS.

Friday Night Lights

The epic series that defined Texas high-school football—and perhaps even the whole state of Texas—for the rest of the country is set in the fictional town of Dillon, Texas (itself a stand-in, sort of, for the real city of Odessa, Texas). However, since it was shot all over the Austin area (here are 15 of the locations, mapped) and was more or less omnipresent in the city from from 2006 to around 2011, Austin is claiming it. Also, it’s really good. Now streaming on Hulu.

King of the Hill

The long-running, perfectly pitched animated series is also set in fictional small town (Arlen, Texas), but Austin is all over it, from repurposed place names and a Willie Nelson cameo to a very special gentrification episode. Not to mention that creator and part-time Austinite Mike Judge has made many a fine film in the area. Available on Hulu.

9-1-1: Lone Star

In a reverse of the usual course of events, the new Fox series is set in Austin but filmed primarily in Los Angeles. But you can no doubt make a drinking game of spotting the occasional local backdrop as you are drawn into the totally realistic story of a New York City fireman (Rob Lowe) who relocates to Austin with his son. It’s free on Fox and is on Hulu with a subscription.

The Leftovers

If you’re only now getting around to watching the critically acclaimed, supernatural/end-times drama, lucky you—you’re in for quite the ride, and you absolutely must start at the beginning. If you’re down for a rewatch and (for some reason) spotting Austin locations, you can skip to seasons two and three, most of which were filmed in Austin and Lockhart, about 30 miles to its southeast. You can also look for Austinites among the extras and credits. On HBO (with an Amazon Prime Video subscription).

Fear the Walking Dead

This might be cheating, a little, as only the fourth and fifth seasons of the horror drama feature filming locations in and around Austin. One of them, however, is a doozy with probably endless creep-out potential: The then-closed, now-demolished Brackenridge county hospital, now one of the sites of the new medical and innovation district. There were also scenes filmed at the Dell Diamond in Round Rock and in the Onion Creek neighborhood, which had been recently damaged by floods. Available on Hulu.

American Crime

Not to be confused with American Crime Story, American Crime was an inventively structured drama series originally shown on ABC. The pilot was shot in Austin, which stood in for the town of Modesto, California—as were a number of scenes in seasons one and two of the three-season series, which starred Felicity Huffman, Regina King, and Timothy Hutton. It’s currently streaming on Netflix.