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Old 04-12-2012, 03:23 PM
Sampiro Sampiro is offline
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What's a more modern synonym for "Peyton Place"?

For anybody who doesn't know, referring to a place or an organization or a group of any kind as "a Peyton Place" is basically saying that they're respectable on the outside but really a pit of vipers. It's a reference to a mega bestselling roman a clef by Grace Metalious and the hit movie and hit TV series said novel inspired.

I'm 45 and Peyton Place craze is actually a little bit before my time: I've never read the novel, I saw the movie on TV once, and I've never seen an episode of the TV show. However, the movie and TV show of Harper Valley PTA were popular when I was a teenager (even though the song was more than a decade old) and the (even then more than a decade old) song on which they were based contained the lyrics

Quote:
"Then you have the nerve to tell me/
you think that as a mother I'm not fit/
Well, this is just a little Peyton Place
and you're all Harper Valley hypocrites"
Peyton Place is used a lot in pop culture to refer to a place that's superficially pleasant or at least harmless but not so secretly dysfunctional with hypocrisy, backstabbing, sordid sex, etc.. Stephen King, who grew up in New England in the 1950s when the novel (set in a small New England town) was the hottest book on the planet, makes references to it frequently in his writings.

But, cultural touchstones do have expiration dates. The last two or three times I've used Peyton Place metaphorically people younger than I am don't know what I'm talking about. Apparently Peyton Place has evaporated into the ether.

So what is a current fictional (or even non-fictional) place- TV, movie, whatever, that if you compared a place to it would mean the same as saying "this is just a little Peyton Place"?

The closest I can think of is Wisteria Lane from Desperate Housewives, though I'm loathe to use that since I've never watched the show and as I understand it the scandals are mostly among bored upper middle class 'desperate houswives', while Peyton Place kind of cut across all spectrums. Plus, as I understand it D.H. is mainly about adultery; Peyton Place had all kinds of severe sordidness (one of the first bestsellers to deal with incest/molestation/abortion in fact).
  #2  
Old 04-12-2012, 03:28 PM
Joey P Joey P is offline
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I've really never heard of Peyton Place (that I can remember), so just going on what you've said, Desperate Housewives/Wisteria Lane sounds like a good synonym. Sure, they're upper class, but I don't see why it couldn't be applied to anyone. Also, the show covered a lot more then just adultery. It ran the gamut from murder to one mother keeping her mentally disabled child tied up in the basement.

I was going to suggest something to do with the Stepford Wives, but I think Wisteria Lane does a much better (and more recent) job.

ETA, from wiki on Desperate Housewives
Quote:
They work through domestic struggles and family life, while facing the secrets, crimes and mysteries hidden behind the doors of their—at the surface—beautiful and seemingly perfect suburban neighborhood.

Last edited by Joey P; 04-12-2012 at 03:32 PM.
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Old 04-12-2012, 03:58 PM
Spavined Gelding Spavined Gelding is offline
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You people just make me feel old and tired. The good stuff is on page 83 of the paper backed edition.
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Old 04-12-2012, 04:15 PM
Zeldar Zeldar is offline
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A possibility, although 20 years old, might be Twin Peaks or the analogous town in David Lynch's Blue Velvet. The latter was more hinted at than stressed, and the former may not have been as blatant as what you're looking for.
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Old 04-12-2012, 04:17 PM
Sampiro Sampiro is offline
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Off topic, but... Roseanne Barr at one point was interested in doing a movie or miniseries about Grace Metalious's life. She'd have been good in the '90s, there is a definite resemblance (Roseanne / Metalious), and you can see the appeal: both women went from borderline poverty to huge-fame/huge-fortune/"interesting" romantic decisions/superrich dysfunction in a relatively short time. However, Metalious died (of alcoholism) at 40 so Roseanne is now too old to play her.

It would still be a good project for somebody. I've never read the novel but I know she based it, at times very closely, on people she knew and how its success affected her is a total morality tale.

Last edited by Sampiro; 04-12-2012 at 04:17 PM.
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Old 04-12-2012, 09:18 PM
jabiru jabiru is offline
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Oh, this takes me back. My mother used to watch Peyton Place - it was on after I went to bed - AND she had a hardcover edition of the book. When I was finally old enough to be left alone at home during the school holidays, I pulled the book out and read it. It was racy, even for the '60s but maybe that's because I was so naive. Who knew 'whore' started with an aitch sound?
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Old 04-12-2012, 09:33 PM
GreasyJack GreasyJack is offline
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Also somewhat off topic, but the alt-country band Southern Culture on the Skids does a great cover of that song. They leave the Peyton Place in, but change the last line to "and you're all full of Harper Valley shit".
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Old 04-12-2012, 11:11 PM
Sattua Sattua is offline
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"Wisteria Lane" was what I thought of before opening the thread to read it. Sorry, I got nothin' else.
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Old 04-12-2012, 11:27 PM
twickster twickster is offline
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Melrose Place?
  #10  
Old 04-12-2012, 11:35 PM
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Rhiannon8404 Rhiannon8404 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sattua View Post
"Wisteria Lane" was what I thought of before opening the thread to read it. Sorry, I got nothin' else.
That was my first thought, as well.
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Old 04-13-2012, 01:36 AM
Accidental Martyr Accidental Martyr is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeldar View Post
A possibility, although 20 years old, might be Twin Peaks or the analogous town in David Lynch's Blue Velvet. The latter was more hinted at than stressed, and the former may not have been as blatant as what you're looking for.
I was also thinking of Twin Peaks/Blue Velvet while reading the OP.
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Old 04-13-2012, 02:02 AM
Becky2844 Becky2844 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeldar View Post
A possibility, although 20 years old, might be Twin Peaks or the analogous town in David Lynch's Blue Velvet. The latter was more hinted at than stressed, and the former may not have been as blatant as what you're looking for.
One time at the library I managed to talk two little old ladies out of checking out the Blue Velvet DVD. They thought it was about the song, they said.

But come to think of it, they might've been wanting to (genteely) get their freak on, and I blew their cover.

Last edited by Becky2844; 04-13-2012 at 02:03 AM.
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Old 04-13-2012, 02:14 AM
grude grude is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Becky2844 View Post
One time at the library I managed to talk two little old ladies out of checking out the Blue Velvet DVD. They thought it was about the song, they said.

But come to think of it, they might've been wanting to (genteely) get their freak on, and I blew their cover.
There is very tame sex scenes and abuse of legal drugs and violence, nothing some old women haven't seen. Its no Salo thats for sure.

For some reason I thought of I Question Your Commitment To Sparkle Motion

Last edited by grude; 04-13-2012 at 02:15 AM.
  #14  
Old 04-13-2012, 02:15 AM
Zeldar Zeldar is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Becky2844 View Post
One time at the library I managed to talk two little old ladies out of checking out the Blue Velvet DVD. They thought it was about the song, they said.

But come to think of it, they might've been wanting to (genteely) get their freak on, and I blew their cover.
Were these gals of the Peyton Place persuasion, you suspect?
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Old 04-13-2012, 08:38 AM
Tapiotar Tapiotar is offline
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I suspect that there isn't a modern equivalent with the same resonance that Peyton Place had, simply because, even though hypocrisy still exists, there is much more openness about talking about the nasty stuff these days.

Also, common cultural references are diminshing. There are so many channels/watching options available these days, terms aren't recognized across the spectrum the way they used to be. Not nearly as high a percentage of people nowadays would get the reference to Wisteria Lane as would have gotten the reference to Peyton Place back then.
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Old 04-13-2012, 08:40 AM
Tapiotar Tapiotar is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Becky2844 View Post
One time at the library I managed to talk two little old ladies out of checking out the Blue Velvet DVD. They thought it was about the song, they said.

But come to think of it, they might've been wanting to (genteely) get their freak on, and I blew their cover.
Well, if the little old ladies were like my 89 year old mother, they would have hated the movie. Mom figures that she has earned the right to kinder entertainment.
  #17  
Old 04-13-2012, 09:08 AM
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I used "Melrose Place" when that show was relevant. I think a reference to "Mad Men" would be most apt, but Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce doesn't exactly roll off the tongue.
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Old 04-13-2012, 09:15 AM
aldiboronti aldiboronti is offline
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Either Lumberton or Twin Peaks would be ideal. (The former was the town in which Lynch's Blue Velvet was set).

Last edited by aldiboronti; 04-13-2012 at 09:15 AM.
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Old 04-13-2012, 11:59 AM
Nom_de_Plume Nom_de_Plume is offline
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One place I worked had people sleeping together left and right, and I actually said, "It's a regular Peyton Place." Maybe now, I would say "It's a regular Real Housewives."
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Old 04-13-2012, 12:33 PM
Biggirl Biggirl is offline
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I would also use "Real Housewives" and then add where ever it is I'm talking about. If I'm talking about work it would be "Real Housewives of CPA LLP" or the PTA would be "Real Housewives of School District 12" Makes it more personal.
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Old 04-14-2012, 09:35 AM
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I totally disagree with the Lynch references. Speaking as someone eleven years older than Sampiro (and therefore alive and conscious at a time when this reference was more contemporaneous), regardless of what the novel itself referred to, the cultural concept of Peyton Place was much closer to that of Wisteria Lane, or the TV shows Dallas or Dynasty than Twin Peaks. Say Twin Peaks today, and people think of weird quirkiness and really eerie, scary, even supernatural stuff, while Blue Velvet is just more of David Lynch's crazy-person twisted stuff.

Fairview, the town from Desperate Housewives, is much closer to what people thought of when they thought of Peyton Place (which comparatively few people would have actually read). Lovely and quiet on the outside, and all sorts of goings on under the surface.

I never saw nor read Peyton Place, but I can say with some certainty that the cultural reference (as opposed to what it was actually about) of Peyton Place, as referenced in Harper Valley PTA, was implying well-concealed underlying scandal, primarily of a sexual nature. I can't think of a single contemporary cultural reference that would be widely understood equivalently, but Biggirl's idea of Real Housewives probably comes closest.
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Old 04-14-2012, 09:50 AM
Zeldar Zeldar is offline
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What you say makes good sense, Oy!, and perhaps another "town" that captures another aspect of "things ain't what they seem" that is off in another weird direction is The Stepford Wives (1975) (the original) -- and not the pathetic remake The Stepford Wives (2004) -- although both movies and their towns are fun ways for poking into that aspect of apparent serenity and Eden-like existence where there's uglier truth lurking below the surface.

I have little doubt that the filmmakers in those two movies were well aware of the Peyton Place paradigm. But I would say the same for those Lynch movies you dismiss.
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Old 04-14-2012, 09:59 AM
Ken001 Ken001 is offline
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Ooooo Betty Anderson. (Barbara Parkin) I feel a swoon coming on. I was 9 years old when I sneaked a peek at Peyton Place but sent to bed by my mum. Perchance to dream...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tapiotar View Post
I suspect that there isn't a modern equivalent with the same resonance that Peyton Place had
Exactly.

Cultural references are a moving feast born of mesmerising images. If your group is too small then the roman-a-clef dies.

I don't believe television creates this type of enduring icon anymore. Movies still do as does real life. Witness Pippa Middletons derriere, and indeeed the elder Kartrashian glutus maximus.
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