Trailer For ABC's North Dakota Based Oil Drama Is The Most Ridiculous Thing You've Ever Seen


There’s a trailer out for that new ABC drama based in North Dakota’s oil fields you’ve been hearing about, and after watching it I wonder if the people who made this show have ever actually been to North Dakota.

Because I’m pretty sure they haven’t. The snowcapped peaks in the background throughout all of the outdoor scenes in the trailer indicate that, if nothing else.

Mountains…in North Dakota? Turns out the show was actually filmed in Utah, and here’s a hint ABC producers: Utah looks nothing like North Dakota.

In fact the whole three minute trailer looks as though someone read about North Dakota’s oil fields once in a newspaper, threaded together a bunch of headlines from the last few years about boomtown prostitution, flaring, and truck traffic into some plot points, and called it good.

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#000000″ txt_color=”#ffffff”]Mountains…in North Dakota? Turns out the show was actually filmed in Utah, and here’s a hint ABC producers: Utah looks nothing like North Dakota.[/mks_pullquote]

The trailer comes off like a caricature. What people who know absolutely nothing about North Dakota and the oil industry other than what they’ve seen through cable news segments think our state and its shale oil play looks like. Only caricatures are intended to be humorous.

I have a feeling the folks behind “Oil” are taking themselves very seriously.

If that’s what we can expect from the show itself that’s a shame because there are compelling stories which could be told about North Dakota’s oil boom. Wonderful stories and scary stories and ugly stories. North Dakota’s oil boom occurred in the midst of a protracted national economic recession. People came here from around the country – like modern day Okies – looking for a place where they could find prosperity.

Many did, too. Many others didn’t.

We don’t need hagiography about the oil boom – we North Dakotans know about it, warts and all – and some artistic license is to be expected in a fictionalized account of real events and/or settings.

But if you’re going to make a big deal about how your show is based on an oil boom that really happened to real people in a place that actually exists would a few moorings to reality be too much to ask for? What’s pathetic is that this show will probably have about as much to do with the Bakken oil boom’s place in history as anything that actually happened.

Perception is reality, my friends.

On a related note, the title of the show and some of the scenes show in the trailer look eerily like something out of Upton Sinclair’s Oil!, a story many of you might recognize as the basis for There Will Be Blood.