The impact of 'Northern Exposure'
From the NKC Tribune, June 17,1993

by David Marsh

Most people in the United States, even the world, would be very fascinated at the thought of having a much loved television show filmed in their hometown. However, a large portion of the residents in Roslyn, Washington feel quite differently. To them, it seems as though the show has brought more grief and inconvenience than it has good.

A certain air of resentment is held toward those who come here to see the "set" of Northern Exposure (those innocent people are referred to by the less tolerant of our citizens as Coasties, 206ers, wets, looky-lou's, cleans, and flatland- ers.) Perhaps some people have justification for these kind of feelings. They could have been held up at the comer of Pennsylvania and 1st Avenue for a couple of minutes while silence was needed to com- plete a shot. Or maybe they were unable to find a table at Village Pizza, (a favorite establishment of fine dining for locals) due to the fact that business has skyrocketed along with the sudden influx of tourists.

Whatever the reason, a widespread attitude of "Tourists, Go Home!" has been adopted by a large group of citizens. It is a known fact that the show has brought about quite a bit of change. The position people have assumed in response to this change is something that has polarized the community ever since shortly after the show's arrival. Many people are reminiscent of the time preceding the onset of the show, and feel that they were much better off then. "There was a time when I could get into the post office any time 'a day, without no hassles," can be heard so often that it may soon be annexed into the Bible.

Many others simply have a personal dislike for the cast and crew of Northern Exposure (usually referred to as the "groovies"). This can usually be attributed to one of two things: one, they are simply a very disagree[a]ble person, or two, once again, they have had some type of bad experience at one time or another. Perhaps they had a run-in with an upset actor or actress after an especially long and gruesome series of takes. Or maybe they don't like the show itself. They may think that it's not a "quality show", and that "It's a waste to have these people taking up space in our town."

Nonetheless, they, too, have adopted a similar attitude. This type of attitude has driven some citizens as far as petitioning the mayor and city council to "get things in line and start considering the rights of the people". While the protests and outbursts may grow increasingly severe, and the public's intolerance nears the boiling point, few have yet stopped to take an objective look at what this show really does for us.

Despite all the criticism that the show receives from locals, there are several good things that have come about because of it. The very pre- sence of Pipeline Productions has directly increased the amount of tourist dollars the town takes in. All the "Looky-lou's" have, in truth, given this town a strong economic base. Business at the Roslyn Museum is more than 10 times higher than in years prior to the show's filming here. Other businesses have seen an equally strong surge of non-local business. In addition, it puts the towns of Cle Elum and Roslyn on the map.

I personally don't know of anyone who doesn't enjoy at least a small amount of attention. This town does receive quite a bit of it, but the image created by locals' attitudes causes opinions to vary. People from out of town might regard the town as, "A great place to stay. Nice hotels, great restaurants, and easy access to go watch the filming and get a couple of snapshots." But due to the negativity aimed at basically all those who don't live in the Upper Kittitas County, the image may be more like this, "Okay to watch the filming and stuff, but really not a great place to stay in.

People there always seem to be so . . . negative towards people like us who just come to see the filming." Many--I should say most--of the people who dislike the presence of Pipeline Productions and the crowd of tourists attracted by it are anti-change. They didn't realize that like most other places, Cle Elum and Roslyn were going to, at some time, experience a given amount of population growth.

Now that it is happening, some welcome it. Others shun it. No matter what the opinion, it is going to happen. The towns will get wealthier and grow. The standard of living will get higher. People will continue flocking here, and some big real estate company will eventually put in a cluster of new developments. And in about twenty years, when the two towns, linked together, are much larger than the nearby city of Ellensburg is currently, some will look back and thank the show. The rest will blame it.

Created 2/13/02
Cast, Crew & CharactersProduction NotesAwards & NominationsThe FansHome