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Originally published Monday, May 16, 2011 at 10:02 PM

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Nicole Brodeur

TV show based in Seattle is a bit off-base

AMC's "The Killing" takes place in Seattle, but is it really our Seattle?

Seattle Times staff columnist

quotes The fact is, TV-worthy scandals here are few and far between. Gimme a break. ... Read more
quotes Our favorite game is spot that scene. All the overhead shots are of Seattle, but the o... Read more
quotes I don't have cable and have never seen the show, but I'm sure the advocacy director of... Read more

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When you're calling about a dead girl in the trunk of a car, people tend not to ring you right back.

But this was just TV. This was pretend. This was about "The Killing," the AMC crime drama set in Seattle that, frankly, makes our little corner of the country look a lot cooler and edgier than it actually is.

Several weeks into the investigation into the murder of the young Rosie Larsen, I haven't seen a single fleece jacket, dog park, Starbucks, farmers market, parent co-op or petition on my TV.

Instead, there is a City Hall filled with intrigue and clean-shaven people. The only beard on the show belongs to a working-class guy who owns a moving company. Meanwhile, in real life, three of the six men on Seattle's City Council sport facial hair — and Mayor Mike McGinn hasn't felt a razor in years.

"The Killing" features City Council President Darren Richmond, who is challenging the mayor in the upcoming election. Richmond has sex with an aide in his glass-walled office and gets driven around in a campaign car.

In fact, it is in one of these campaign cars (what, is there a fleet?) in which dear Rosie's corpse was found.

This was all pretty amusing to Councilman Tim Burgess, McGinn's likely challenger in the next election. He was one of the few down at City Hall who returned calls to talk about the show.

Burgess doesn't watch "The Killing." But he's "aware of it."

If he goes anywhere, he told me, he drives himself in his very own (wait for it) Toyota Prius.

As for campaign events?

"I go on a Vespa scooter," Burgess said. "And I don't think I can get a dead body in there. My helmet barely fits."

No sex with aides. No leaks to the press about the mayor's alleged mistress.

"Nope," Burgess said. "Gosh, what a boring guy."

Boring city, too, sometimes. While that other Seattle's media deal with photos of the dead girl, ours reel with the news that the advocacy director of the Cascade Bicycle Club is taking a job in the mayor's office (Hang onto your helmets, kids!)

The show has a very noir feel; it always seems to be either daybreak or dusk, and it is always raining steady and hard.

Showrunner Veena Sud has said in interviews that she chose to set the show in Seattle because of the ugliness that lies just beneath its beauty.

"Seattle is a city of contradictions," Sud told Collider.com. "It's the most liberal and most literate city in America ... but it's also where the Green River killer hunted women and where the runaway population is just shocking when you walk the streets."

And yet, Sud and her writers have unintentionally hit pretty close to home.

They reference a "waterfront project" that only costs $40 million (if only!), and that the mayor is actually pushing for — not gumming up the works, like ours is with the viaduct-replacement tunnel, which is estimated to cost $2 billion.

So the "Killing" in the show's title might not just refer to Rosie, but to our real-life city's self-esteem. AMC says we're dark and brooding, not sexy like in Grey's Anatomy or funny like Frasier used to be.

The fact is, TV-worthy scandals here are few and far between.

In 1971, a King County grand jury indicted 28 police officers and political leaders for their involvement in a police-payoff system, according to Historylink.org. The central indictment included the former King County sheriff (later dismissed out of the case), the former King County prosecuting attorney and a former city councilman (both acquitted).

In 2003, three Seattle City Council members were found to have received illegal campaign contributions from strip-club owner Frank Colacurcio Jr., who used friends and associates to funnel money and skirt contribution limits. The scandal became known as "Strippergate."

"We're kind of squeaky clean," Burgess said.

I tried to reach Mayor McGinn, but he wasn't available to talk about the show, or the City Hall sex and intrigue it packs every Sunday night. His spokesman, Aaron Pickus, couldn't even get him to come to the phone, but sent this email:

"I bumped into the mayor. He hasn't actually had a chance to sit down and watch the show yet."

Still, McGinn allowed the show's producers to tour City Hall and take some footage of the view from his office, Pickus said.

And what does Pickus think of the show's depiction of his workplace, his city?

"I don't have cable," he said.

Course you don't.

Nicole Brodeur's column appears Tuesday and Friday. Reach her at 206-464-2334 or nbrodeur@seattletimes.com.

No way Linden marries that guy.

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