TV Shows Break the Laws of Trains and Space

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Tuesday’s season finale of Glee featured the emotional climax of the character arc of Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), as Rachel impulsively boarded a train from her Ohio hometown, straight to the city of her dreams, New York City. Rachel arrived in Manhattan, ready to pursue a Broadway career, and it was quite lovely.

There was just one problem: Rachel’s train pulled into Grand Central Terminal, a train station that’s not on any Amtrak line; there’s absolutely no route that goes straight from Ohio to Grand Central. I’m not exactly sure if you can grab such a train in rural Ohio, either, but leave that aside for a moment.

But Glee isn’t alone. NBC’s Smash, another musical series in which internal logic and continuity is far from a strong suit, made the exact same mistake just a few weeks ago: when the entire cast took off for an out-of-town tryout in Boston, they got on the train at… Grand Central, which doesn’t offer service to Boston.

Even a show as highly-regarded as Louis CK’s Louie made the same error last season. In the episode where one of Louie’s sisters leaves her kid with Louie, she’s catching a train, from Grand Central, to Philadelphia- a city, once again, to which trains from there don’t go. Then again, Louie always has different brothers, sisters, and even mothers from episode to episode, so…

Why do shows keep making this mistake? There’s a pretty simple explanation: Grand Central is a pretty damn beautiful building, while the actual Amtrak station in New York, Penn Station, is very much not. Directors, it appears, are willing to sacrifice continuity and realism just for a better shot.

How to solve the problem? Make Penn Station less ugly, or build a new one. It’s just too bad Don Draper couldn’t stop them from tearing the old one down… 

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