This Show is Set in Milwaukee and It’s Hilarious

But it’s filmed in Chicago…

The gist: 

THE SHOW’S CALLED “PATRIOT.” Dark comedy spy drama. It’s on Amazon Prime. A lot of it is set in Milwaukee. They filmed it in Chicago though because they suck. Watch it – it’s good.

Now that you’re hooked: 

The year was 2021, and a young rapscallion sat down at his television to while away the late night hours, unable to sleep for fear of the night terrors’ inevitable return. His fingers flicked across the remote.

“Patriot,” he whispered, and the trailer began to play automatically in that annoying way streaming services do.

“This looks like something a young rapscallion like me might enjoy,” he whispered.

To his surprise the first episode’s title was, “Milwaukee, USA.”

Attention grabbed, he hit play, and the first scene provided him with a scene-setting title card, “Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 2012.”

I won’t spoil the first scene, which has a heck of a little twist in it, but here’s the basic lowdown of the show. John Tavner is a CIA operative. When we first meet him, he’s been mentally destroyed by an operation gone bad and years of murder and mayhem on behalf of his country. He’s taken to writing extremely autobiographical folk songs that put the nation’s secrets at risk, and he likes to sing them at small clubs and festivals. He has one of the saddest faces I’ve ever seen on television.

His father, a higher-up at the CIA, assigns him to a new operation – John has to funnel millions of dollars to a pro-American Iranian candidate for president in order to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons. To do this, he has to infiltrate a piping company with an exclusive contract in the region. That particular piping company is headquartered in Milwaukee. And hence John spends most of the show’s first season in our fair city.

But unfortunately, like I said above, they filmed literally every Milwaukee scene in, of all places, Chicago, which feels a little bit like spitting right in our eye. Hence there aren’t any, “Oh look, that’s the Bronz Fonz”-type moments in there. It’s mostly just factories and blurry generic urban streets. 

It feels a bit like the writers were discussing the show and one said, “We need a midsize post-industrial city. Not too glamorous.”

“Cleveland?” one of them said.

“No, they suck,” the other said.


“Yeah, sure, why not?”

And then they just went with it.

But hey, the show’s fantastic. Unfortunately, like all good things, it couldn’t last. It was cancelled in 2018 after two seasons. But for the 18 episodes we have, it’s compelling and funny and thoughtful and all that, so it gets a hearty recommendation from me. I’d take it over “Laverne and Shirley” any day.



Archer is the managing editor at Milwaukee Magazine. Some say he is a great warrior and prophet, a man of boundless sight in a world gone blind, a denizen of truth and goodness, a beacon of hope shining bright in this dark world. Others say he smells like cheese.