Showtime's 'American Rust' Is Based in a Fictional Town, But Where Was It Filmed?

Kori Williams - Author

Sep. 13 2021, Published 1:48 p.m. ET

The Showtime series American Rust is all about the American Dream. It mainly follows the life of a man named Del Harris (Jeff Daniels). He's the chief of police in a southwestern Pennsylvania town, and over the course of the show, we get to see how many different lives in the area unfold.

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Even though American Rust is set in Pennsylvania, is that actually where the show is filmed? Here's what we know about the filming locations and what the show is based on.

A Coal Breaker in the 'Rust Belt'
Source: Getty Images
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Where was 'American Rust' filmed?

According to the show's IMDb, American Rust is filmed in Pittsburgh, PA. And a quick look at a map of the state will show you that the series is pretty much shot on location. The show takes place in a fictional town that's supposed to be in the same area of the country.

American Rust takes place in a fictional town called Buell in the early 2000s. But it is located in a real-life area of the U.S. called the "Rust Belt." According to Investopedia, this refers to a large region from New York to the midwest that used to be a hub for manufacturing jobs.

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Now, those jobs aren't as popular or as promising as they used to be, and there are abandoned factories all over that region of the country. It's called the "Rust Belt" because of the huge number of rusted buildings that have been left to wither away in the elements.

What is 'American Rust' based on?

The show American Rust is actually based on a book of the same name. Written by Philipp Meyer, it was published in 2009. More specifically, this is around the time of what's been known as The Great Recession, a time period during which millions of people lost their homes and struggled to find jobs and afford basic needs after the housing market took a sharp and sudden downturn in 2008.

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The book and series follow what life is like for these Pennsylvanians during this rough economic period. People are trying to get by and live their own version American Dream. Specifically, it depicts how those who worked manufacturing jobs, which used to pay well, struggle to stay afloat.

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But there are some differences between the American Rust book and TV show. According to the description for the novel on Amazon, the book actually focuses on a character named Isaac English who wants to leave his "beautiful but economically devastated Pennsylvania steel" hometown.

Unfortunately, Isaac's mother dies by suicide, he's caring for his ailing father, and his sister is off in college. He's looking for an escape but doesn't immediately see a way out.

You can watch American Rust on Showtime at 10 p.m. EST on Sundays.

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