TV and Film With A North Carolina Vibe

Photo credit: Andrew Neel

Hollywood is known for setting its films and TV shows in big cities like New York, Chicago, London, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and other notable areas. But there are some great, entertaining products based in the good ol’ state of North Carolina, too. And nothing hits the spot after a horrible day at the office like a good movie or tv show.

If you’re a film buff and like to research and binge stuff like that, or if you’re just looking for a taste of your home state on the screen, there are plenty of options in every genre. You’ll be busy for months if you’re trying to consume it all, but you’ll also be entertained. So get the popcorn and grab the remote!


Nicholas Sparks sets many of his stories in his home state of North Carolina, so the movies based on his books are a great place to start if you’re looking for several hours of heartwarming, love-filled diversions.

Start with Message In A Bottle starring Kevin Costner and Robin Wright Penn. Then move on to the Best of Me starring James Marsden and Bridget Monaghan. And finish with the Ryan Gosling, Rachel McAdams hit, The Notebook.

If you’re still looking for more sparks (see what I did there?), then check out the breakout role of Mandy Moore, A Walk To Remember. And, if you’ve already deep-dived on all of the Sparks stories, and you need something binge-worthy, give One Tree Hill a shot. It’s got 9 seasons of love triangles, soapy drama, and spicy entanglements.


North Carolina is home to millions of racing fans, so it’s not shocking that there would be a great racing-based film. One of Tom Cruise’s earliest films, Days of Thunder, stars him and his ex-wife Nicole Kidman. He plays a young, up-and-coming race car driver who has to learn how to handle the pressures of the job as well as the pressures of life.

If racing isn’t your jam, give Bull Durham a swing. It’s a baseball drama/comedy that stars Kevin Costner and Susan Sarandon about the grind of minor-league baseball. Sarandon’s former husband Tim Robbins also stars in the film.


Need a more light-hearted escape? Try Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, which stars Will Ferrell as a bumbling race car driver. This is considered one of Ferrell’s best comedies to date.

Let the laughs continue by watching the cult-classic This Is Spinal Tap, directed by Rob Reiner (The Princess Bride, When Harry Met Sally). This mockumentary about a rock-n-roll band is considered one of the funniest movies of the ’80s. Rob Reiner was already a small-screen comedy star because of All In The Family, but this put him on the map as a director.


Ok, let’s throw a bone to those of you that crave the thrill from a good scary movie. Horror and thriller movies set in North Carolina includes Cape Fear (Robert DeNiro), Kiss The Girls (Ashley Judd), and The Descent (Shauna MacDonald).

If you enjoy that feeling of someone following you or wondering if there are monsters under the bed, those movies should provide what you’re looking for. Just make sure to lock the doors before going to bed.

Noteworthy Mention

There are too many tv shows and films to include on this list. So let’s just leave you with one more notable mention in case none of the above were quite what you were looking for. Or maybe they weren’t quite “Carolina” enough.

With that said, nothing says “Carolina” quite like The Andy Griffith Show, set in the fake town of Mayberry, North Carolina. There are 259 hilarious episodes of the small-town adventures of Sheriff Andy, his family, and the many oddball characters of Mayberry. You’re sure to fall in love with this town and its inhabitants as you experience some nostalgia at the same time.