“Criminal Minds” in Great Falls

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Apparently the TV show “Criminal Minds” set this week’s episode (“Identity“) right here in Great Falls. There’s a Trib piece about one of the crew members, Andrew Ellingson, who is from Great Falls. But some of my co-workers who watched the episode were very disappointed: they said that Great Falls was portrayed as a very small town with a decidedly “militia” bent, which of course only serves to further the stereotype of all Montanans. And they said that the “Great Falls” on the show bore virtually no resemblance to the real Great Falls, in appearance, size, or character.

Which makes me wonder: if the producers wanted to set the episode in a small Montana town, why didn’t they instead choose, say, Dillon, or Lincoln, or Toston, or any place OTHER than the 3rd largest town in the state? If you saw the episode, what did you think?

UPDATE: a Great Falls native (who moved away and then back to Montana) has some thoughts about the episode.



  1. It’s not a surprise; TV producers at best understand LA and NY, and think the rest of the country is made up of hicks with quasi-southern accents. I remember an episode of CSI that took place in Jackpot, NV, and it was wall-to-wall pine trees and hermits rather than scrubland and casino employees. A simple Google image search would’ve answered any questions –but the producers didn’t think to ask any questions.

  2. Well, speaking of great falls, I have moved to Fort Benton. My neighbor at the autumn run apts in g.f. would not leave my wife and kids alone. Then she called the office and claimed I was a terrorist. Out here in Fort Benton nobody bothers us.

  3. Welcome to stereotyping. They’ve been doing it to Texas for decades. According to Hollywood, apparently anyone who lives in Texas or Montana is an uneducated hick. Those of us who know better know that the people in both of these states are probably the most genuine folks in the entire country.

    As far as I’m concerned, let them think we’re dangerous. It just means that fewer of them will have the desire to come out here and try to change things.

  4. Harley, your sentiments are well-placed, but I’m gonna pose a query:

    When people outside of Montana come here because of the great primary and secondary education system and low cost of living, what do Montanans do to keep ’em here? And if they leave with a bad taste in their mouths, what happens then?

    Who perpetuates the stereotype? The native with a negative view of non-Montanans, or the transplant who leaves with an image of how Montanans can truly be, in their minds?

  5. I was excited to see the premiere of Fox’s show “Drive” – mostly because I love me some Nathan Fillion but also because his character hailed from Hastings, Nebraska which is a mere 10 miles down the (flat) road from me.

    Imagine my surprise upon watching the premiere to see his little farm with – wait for it – some mountains in the background. Umm, huh? Nebraska’s you know, flat for the most part. It’s kind of known for it especially when you zip through on I-80. Of course, we have some foothills and stuff but not in Hastings.

    And that’s way more than I meant to say. I guess I needed to rant some more about it 🙂

    Anyway, I agree with the first commenter: “TV producers at best understand LA and NY.”

  6. alright, I’m watching the episode right now and all I can say is: WTH? That’s not Great Falls? And what’s with the anti-FBI stuff? Most of my friends would be freakin’ out about meeting an actual FBI agent. Why would they think that Montanans have a problem with the FBI?

    I agree. Great Falls is not the best town to locate this film. Not to mention that they kind of make Montanans look like a bunch of unintellegent hicks . Now I love Criminal Minds, I’m a huge fan, but I’m a fan of Great Falls even more. I would think that after the whole “Montana Meth Project,” the people behind the show would want to make an episode concerning that instead.

    And what exactly is a militia? I’ve lived in Great Falls all my life and I’ve never heard it being in Great Falls.

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  9. Well, this all makes me laugh, because my Grandmother whom I love dearly has Alzheimer’s, and she is definitely anti-FBI. She thinks they are after her, so I wonder if Criminal Minds interviewed her for a taste of Great Falls culture. LOL. 🙂

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