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The Main Thing American Rust Gets Wrong About The Region

Showtime's stark 2021 crime drama "American Rust" came out of nowhere in the waning days of 2021 to thrill viewers in search of a slow-burn murder mystery set amid the fading vistas of America's Rust Belt. But even as fans of "American Rust" are likely still reeling at the news it will be one season and done for the series, the show is still capturing new viewers in the cable and streaming realms.

If you have yet to discover "American Rust," here's the lowdown: the series is based on Philipp Meyers' novel of the same name, and follows Del Harris, a troubled SW Pennsylvania Sheriff (Jeff Daniels), as he investigates a shocking murder in his drug-plagued small town. That investigation takes an unexpected turn when Del's prime suspect turns out to be Billy Poe (Alex Neustaedter) the son of the woman he loves (Maura Tierney). As Del tangles with how far he is willing to go to protect the boy, the series unfolds as equal parts enthralling murder mystery and haunting exploration of an American Dream that's slowly turning to rust and dust for many Americans.

Upon its release, "American Rust" was well-regarded by some for painting a brutally honest, and utterly bleak portrait of life in the Rust Belt (per TV Fanatic). But it seems a few fans of the series felt the series could've been even more authentic in one important area.

Some American Rust fans feel the series really missed the mark on regional dialect

That conversation about "American Rust" went down in a lively Reddit thread which found fans praising and criticizing the series in equal measure. In terms of praise, Redditor Yeahmanbro22 actually lives in the region depicted, and was clearly impressed with the show's representation, offering "So I live in fayette county where buell is supposed to be and let me tell you they nailed everything except a few things..."

It's unclear what "few things" Yeahmanbro22 felt "American Rust" missed, but if another user, mcrop609, is to be believed, regional dialect was likely one of them. And in their own post, mcrop609 claimed the cast not even trying to match the specific SW PA dialect was a real source of frustration, stating, "The show is good so far but my one complaint is I've spent time in SW PA and the people in the area speak a certain way. None of the actors have picked up on the accent... I just had to tune it out."

User mcfutch doesn't argue mcrop609's point, but sagely offers the 1978 classic "The Deer Hunter" as proof that if the content is on point, actors might be forgiven for avoiding tricky regional accents, stating that, "The Deer Hunter is a good example of a film set in SW Pennsylvania in which none of the principal actors speak with a regional accent. It doesnt make it any less of a masterwork..." 

Whether the previous viewer believes "American Rust" a masterwork on the level of "The Deer Hunter" remains uncertain, but that might be a tough sell to even the show's staunchest defenders.