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Is The Town In American Rust A Real Place?

While Showtime's "American Rust" may not be entirely unique amongst the other crime drama series out there, its familiarity is also part of its charm. Set in a struggling Western Pennsylvania Rust Belt town where the people have turned to crime as a way to survive, the series follows police chief Del Harris (Jeff Daniels) as he struggles to maintain his morality while dealing with said criminals.

It's a premise any fan of noir television and crime drama should be familiar with, and as in many other crime dramas, the setting is as much a part of the show as the characters themselves. The entire series is informed by the trials and tribulations inherent to the struggling Rust Belt town — and oftentimes those obstacles are what drive the characters to do immoral things just to get by.

With how integral the setting itself is to the series, some fans might be surprised to learn the truth about the town that has driven so many characters into a life of crime.

Bringing the Rust Belt to life

The term "Rust Belt" refers to a large region that spans across New York and into the Midwestern United States, which used to be a hub for manufacturing jobs (via Investopedia). The "rust" in its name refers to the large number of abandoned factories and rusted buildings left behind when those manufacturing jobs came to a close.

"American Rust” takes place in a town called Buell in the early 2000s, which is located directly on the Rust Belt itself. While the town of Buell is entirely fictional, that didn't stop the showrunners from doing everything they could to make the place feel authentic (per The New York Times).

There's an important reason the show nails the look and feel of a struggling Rust Belt town — because the entire thing was shot on location. According to the series' official IMDb, "American Rust" is filmed in and around Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which means everything you see is actually from the real-life Rust Belt. As such, the abandoned buildings, dense surrounding forests, and even the landscape you see in the show are all representative of what it really looks like in small-town Western Pennsylvania.

So, while Buell itself might not exist, what you get on the screen is incredibly authentic.