There’s just something about Texas that inspires great stories. Everything is bigger–the drama, the sets, the hair. Over the years, filmmakers have flocked to Texas to create small screen drama. Shows such as Revolution and the HBO series The Leftovers were filmed in Texas. But the scripts have little to do with the Lone Star State. Midnight, Texas, an upcoming NBC supernatural drama based on a book series by Charlaine Harris, is set in the (fictional) town of Midnight, Texas but filmed in New Mexico. Even if they weren’t all created in Texas, there have been several iconic television shows that have came to define the Lone Star State to outsiders – for better or worse.
From sassy, small town waitresses to Texas rangers trained in martial arts, here are our picks for the 10 best Texas TV shows.
READ MORE: 15 Best Texas Characters from TV and Film
The short-lived sitcom Flo was born out of the television show Alice. In 1980, the star waitress of Mel’s Diner moved on to her own gig, opening Flo’s Yellow Rose, a roadhouse in her hometown of Cowtown, Texas.
Texas accuracy level (on a scale from 1-10): 3. Flo definitely made Texas front and center, but it was a little over the top. See: omnipresent cowboy hats and the mention of tight-jeaned cowboys and good ol’ boys in the delightfully catchy theme song performed by Texas artist Hoyt Axton.
9. The Son
AMC’s The Son is centered around Eli McCullough (Pierce Brosnan), an 1800s Texas cattle baron with his eye on the oil industry.
Texas accuracy level: 7. The series is based on a historical fiction novel by Phillip Meyer. But while the main character and Pierce Brosnan’s Texas accent aren’t real, the series is partially based on real historical events.
8. Austin Stories
In 1997, MTV aired Austin Stories, the channel’s first single-camera sitcom.The show followed three 20-somethings making their way in what was then just a quirky college town. The program was critically acclaimed but unceremoniously canned after one season.
Texas accuracy level: 8. The series was pure ’90s Austin – even if the city will never be as small or inexpensive as it was in 1997.
The first season of AMC’s comic book adaption Preacher is set in the fictional town of Annville, Texas. The series follows a West Texas Preacher, his wild card ex-girlfriend and an Irish vampire and their journey to find God. The show is filmed in Albuquerque, New Mexico and New Orleans.
Texas accuracy level: 5. The real folks of West Texas are a lot friendlier than the inhabitants of Annville, Texas but the series does a good job of depicting the loneliness and desperation of some West Texas small towns.
6. Fixer Upper
What can be said about the Waco-based HGTV series Fixer Upper that hasn’t already been said? Chip and Joanna Gaines launched a lifestyle brand with their house flipping prowess and charming chemistry. Folks drive from all over to visit the Gaines’ Magnolia Market in Waco.
Texas accuracy level: 9. We can’t all live in a Chip and Jo fixer upper, but the dynamic home improvement duo are true Texans through and through.
Reba McEntire plays Reba Hart, a single mother raising a family after her husband leaves her for a younger woman. Reba is set in the suburbs of Houston.
Texas accuracy level: 7. “Reba” is an understated look at life in Texas suburbia.
4. Walker, Texas Ranger
Walker, Texas Ranger will not go down in history as a quality show, but, hey, it’s still a classic. The show and its Lone Star setting were due in part to the efforts of then Texas governor Ann Richards. Richards wanted to show off Texas to the rest of the world and prove that it wasn’t as backwoods as some would believe. The series was also chock full of Texas-made products, from Justin boots to Shiner beer. You couldn’t ask for better publicity.
Texas accuracy level: 2. We’re pretty sure there aren’t any Texas Rangers keeping law and order through roundhouse kicks. (But it would be really cool if there were.)
In 1978, the world was introduced to the Ewing family. And Texas – and the rest of the world’s perception of it – was never the same. Dallas, the mega-hit television show of big hair, big wealth and big egos, spawned 14 seasons and a spin-off. The show centered around Ewing family patriarch J.R. and his dirty deeds. In 2012, TNT rebooted the show, but the more understated series never caught on like the original.
Texas accuracy level: 1. We’re sure there are some Texans like J.R. and Sue Ellen, but the series’ portrayal of Dallas-residents as backstabbing oil barons couldn’t be further from the truth. But when “Who Shot J.R.” became the trending television cliffhanger of the moment, some Dallasites were content to embrace the hype.
2. King of the Hill
The animated series King of the Hill, created by Mike Judge and Greg Daniels, centered around the every day life of Hank and Peggy Hill and the supremely entertaining residents of Arlen, Texas. The series featured several guest appearances by beloved Texans, such as former governor Ann Richards and Hank’s idol Willie Nelson.
Texas accuracy level: 9. King of the Hill definitely had some fun with Texas stereotypes (many of which are rooted in truth) but the series offered one of the most accurate portrayals of rural Texas life. We expect there’s a Hank Hill in every Texas town.
1. Friday Night Lights
It really doesn’t get more Texan than Friday Night Lights. Set in fictional Dillon, Texas, the series follows high school football coach Eric Taylor as he leads the Dillon Panthers to victory in the wake of a town tragedy. What started out as “a show about high school football” proved to be a moving portrayal of the true-to-life struggles of the residents of a small rural Texas town.
The series also gave us two of the most iconic Texas phrases: “Texas Forever” and, of course, “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose.” If you haven’t gotten chocked up by a Coach Taylor locker room speech, are you even a true Texan? Don’t worry, there’s still time to binge watch all five seasons.
Texas accuracy level: 10. “Friday Night Lights” understood that Texans don’t really wear cowboy hats to every function, but they do say “y’all.” A lot.