Arts Desk

Bones-Headed

The characters in Bones, Fox’s slightly annoying comedic twist on the forensic-procedural genre, work at the fictional Jefferson Institute, where they’ve been examining human remains and solving grisly murders for six seasons running. Theirs is a genre that trades in slightly heightened realism, but it turns out the Washington that Bones inhabits is quite fictional itself. In last week’s episode, David Boreanaz’s character, FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth, said this about a suspect: “A white man in Columbia Heights? He’d stand out like an onion in a bean field!” In a November 2010 episode, he fielded a question about Anacostia this way: “It’s a neighborhood about a mile and a half from here: seedy, prostitution, lots of gangs, bad activity...why?” In the show’s pilot episode from 2005, an establishing shot of Dulles Airport included a view of one of D.C.’s marble monuments—never mind that Dulles is nearly 30 miles away from the center of town.

OK, so Bones’ creators obviously haven’t spent much time visiting D.C.—nor, it seems, trying to build a passable understanding of its demographics or geography. Through a deeply embedded Hollywood source, Washington City Paper was able to obtain scripts from Bones’ next season. Here’s what David Boreanaz will say about your neighborhood.

H Street NE
“A white man on H Street? No one from Arlington would be caught dead there—folks from Virginia haven’t gone there since the riots in ’68!”

Chinatown
“A white man in Chinatown? There’s nothing there but groceries, rickshaws, and opium dens!”

Trinidad
“A white man in Trinidad? Yeah, right—I hope he brought his steel drum!”

Dupont Circle
“A white man in Dupont Circle? But that’s miles from Georgetown!”

Hillcrest
“A white man in Hillcrest? But that’s in Anacostia! It’s a neighborhood about a mile and a half from here: seedy, prostitution, lots of gangs, bad activity...”

Photos by Darrow Montgomery

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  • http://twitter.com/monkeyrotica monkeyrotica

    I like the episode where they ran across a palmtree-lined Mount Pleasant Street and you could see the mountains in the background.

  • Kelli

    I'm such a huge Bones fan but there is a bit of a disconnect between the writing and actual DC. Maybe WCP should lobby for a 'DC consultant', like when films hire military consultants to make sure they don't screw something up?

  • thecassandrist

    If Fischer and Madden have a single source from the TV show's production company verifying a single line of their projected scripts and racist banter about white men, they don't note them. No one is asking for their sources, but in the absence of a comment from the production unit, most of us will take this feeble attempt at online journalism to be what it is. With writing like this, why would anyone read anything in WashingtonCitypaper.com? Eventually, your page views and revenues will be circling the bowl.
    Good riddance.

  • Stanton Park

    You complain about Bones because you've never seen (for good reason) Postal Inspectors 2: A Shred of Evidence. Louis Gossett Jr. and Jonathan Silverman are postal inspectors that leave USPS HQ (but not from L'Enfant Plaza), drive a few blocks, turn left and are in "Baltimore." The Baltimore with streetcars. Red streetcars. Just like the ones in Vancouver.

    But what can you expect from this film, where the cover art features the name "Louis Gossett, Jr." over the picture of the Jewish guy and "Jonathan Silverman" over the black guy?

  • Harper

    They TOTALLY need to hire someone, anyone who knows even a little bit about the District. Even the pilot episode showed a MPD car at a crime scene in Virginia- ridic. Though apparently y'all at wcp need a Bones consultant too- it's the "Jeffersonian" not "Jefferson Institute."

  • Kathleen

    Lighten up, people! It's just television. Enjoy the show for what it is rather than watching to catch the screw-ups.

  • oed

    television isn't real.

    sometimes the scenes even take place on sets, rather than real offices, hospitals, or alleys.

    i'm not lying.

  • Mrs. D

    The things that Bones gets wrong about DC are particularly ridiculous and frequent. But at least the show is in good company. Ever read "The Lost Symbol?" Dan Brown's latest hit includes some WHOPPERS about DC geography (among my favorites - a 30 minute limo ride from Dulles to the Capitol (WITHOUT a police escort...and in the first few pages...starting off on the right foot) and being able to see the Metro Center sign from Freedom Plaza). Brown also seriously f'ed up the Metro in "Deception Point." Criminal Minds also blows it when it comes to almost anything related to DC (most of their "urban" scenes look like skid row, there was once a Metro station - NYC-style one at that - at QUANTICO???).

    I actually don't have a problem with fictionalization, but, like, maybe go more fictional? Like, if you're doing anything outside of the Mall...just make up a neighborhood. It's not like anyone outside of DC is going to know that "Smithton" doesn't exist (yes I just pulled that out of thin air), and I think the locals would probably be less offended if you TOTALLY made it up. But if you're going to feature a real neighborhood, maybe get the basics (demographics, general location) correct? You don't see shows and movies set in New York - even those that AREN'T filmed there - totally blowing the basics ("a white man in Times Square? He'd stick out like a potato in a turnup truck!" "Let's go uptown from Central Park and end up at Washington Square!").

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