What AMC’s ‘Low Winter Sun’ Got Wrong About Detroit and Flint
AMC's 'Low Winter Sun' is a rather entertaining show that is actually filmed on location in Detroit and is, for the most part, spot on with their references to city's culture. There were, however, some misfires on some of the finer details and their depiction both Detroit and Flint.
Despite being the butt of cancellation jokes, caused by its infinitely more popular lead-in 'Breaking Bad' the first season of 'Low Winter Sun' was a solid, mostly entertaining show. For Michigan natives, it was especially entertaining due to it being filmed on location in Detroit and the inclusion of popular local references like the dividing line between the regular patrons of the city's popular neighboring coney islands -- Lafayette and American... but they didn't get everything right.
Not only did they spend the entire first hour of the finale trying to make us not like Detective Frank Agnew -- the guy we're supposed to be rooting for on the show -- they also dropped the ball on a handful of points when it comes to giving an accurate portrayal of the people of Detroit... and Flint for that matter. Here are a couple more minor local infractions that we noticed:
- In the episode "Cake on the way" Damon Callis and his friends, who all appear to be in their 30s, mention a "pitcher for Anaheim who threw a no-hitter with one hand." As a 30-something Michigan native, any one of them should have know that the "one-handed pitcher" was named Jim Abbott, a Flint native who was a star pitcher for the University of Michigan long before his no-hitter days with the New York Yankees (Not Anaheim, or California as they were known then).
- In the first hour of the finale, Detective Agnew's homeless friend and former partner Sean jokes about the possibility of Frank getting the death penalty, which has been outlawed in Michigan since 1846.
There were a few other minor offenses that rubbed us the wrong way, but we wont go through every minute detail... they did get a lot of things right too. Perhaps the most offensive claim the show makes is that all Detroit Police are crooked (well, except for two). The detectives, the captain, hell, damn near everybody involved with DPD is either on the take or turning a blind eye to murder cases to keep from "rocking the boat." There is probably some corruption in every branch of law enforcement, but not anywhere near as bad as it is on the show. We imagine that Detroit Police aren't in love with this unfair portrayal of their hard work.
Another unfavorable reflex the show has is its non-stop Detroit bashing. The city is constantly said to be "Hell hole" or in need of a good "burning to the ground." Detroit has its problems, but there is still a lot of good in the city. Most Detroiters we know have immense pride in their city (as noted by actor Mark Strong below) and spend more time praising it than bashing it.
Their low opinion of Detroit is pale in comparison to the few mentions of Flint on the show. Early in the season the captain is told by one of his superiors to accomplish a task or hell be "on patrol in Flint," which implies that Detroit is bad, but Flint is worse. It's really hard to imagine anywhere being worse than the Detroit shown on 'Low Winter Sun.' In the finale, things heat up for Callis and he decides to skip town for a couple days. Where does he go to? You guessed it -- Flint. Because when drug dealing murderers need a vacation, that's where they all go. Isn't it?
'Low Winter Sun,' despite the offenses mentioned here, is a well-acted, nerve-racking drama most of the time and we're interested to see where they take the show if it's renewed for a second season. We just hope they can execute 10 episodes without dragging the people of Detroit through the mud the entire time.