26 March 2006
Taking leave of one's census
How big is a small town? I suppose it depends on your frame of reference, but I think that a population of forty or fifty thousand would be enough to fill up a pretty fair-sized city.
David Lynch thought that his mythical town of Twin Peaks had about 5,120 people; ABC apparently balked, whereupon the "Welcome To" sign on the edge of town, seen in the opening credits, was amended to read 51,201.
Smallville is obviously a small town. It's surrounded by farms, apparently only has one coffee shop (the Talon), and has little of what a "city" is supposed to offer. There's never been a mention of a Smallville Mall, for example, and there is apparently only one high school in the town, Smallville High. Having grown up in a small town about 30 minutes from a big city (and about four hours from Dallas, a really big city), it felt about right.
Then, in one of the third-season episodes, Clark was trying in vain to describe a bad guy to the sheriff, but he didn't have enough details to make it work, so the sheriff said, "In a town of 45,000 people, Mr. Kent, that's not much to go on."
And as in Twin Peaks, where everyone knew everyone else, or at least everyone else's business, something that doesn't happen in cities of 50,000 and up try that in Midwest City, Oklahoma sometime the numbers in Smallville don't add up:
Any town with more than about 40,000 people needs more than one high school, and certainly wouldn't be based around a single main street like Smallville is on TV. Such a large population would explain why kids keep arriving and vanishing without too many people noticing, even though at other times, everyone seems to know everyone else. Still, when the producers came up with that figure as a "reasonable size" for a small town that would support their story lines, did any of them bother to look at census data and figure out that it would be close to the seventh-largest city in [Kansas]?
Now I'm starting to wonder about Eerie, Indiana (population 16,661).Posted at 1:48 PM to Dyssynergy