Courteney Cox is certainly earning her horror queen status as of late! The fifth installment of the beloved “Scream” franchise, in which the “Friends” actress plays beleaguered journalist Gale Weathers, hit the big screen to much fanfare in January. And this past Sunday, her new series, “Shining Vale,” debuted on the Starz network. Billed as a horror-comedy, the show sees Cox stepping into the role of Patricia ‘Pat’ Phelps, a disgruntled housewife/stalled “lady porn” novelist who moves from Brooklyn, New York, to the sleepy fictional suburb of Shining Vale, Connecticut, in order to make a fresh start with her family following an illicit dalliance with her local handyman.
Upon arriving in the idyllic small town, Pat, her husband, Terry (Greg Kinnear), and their two children, Gaynor (Gus Birney) and Jake (Dylan Gage), settle into their new home, a massive, dilapidated old mansion in desperate need of some updating that they picked up for “$200 below asking – in this market!” As they soon discover, ripped carpeting, rusty-hinged doors and burned-out lights aren’t the pad’s only drawbacks. Shortly after moving in, Pat begins to experience strange happenings, including seeing the specters of former residents. Whether the spirits are real or imagined is yet to be determined, though, because as the onscreen text that opens episode one informs us, “Women are roughly twice as likely as men to suffer from depression. Symptoms include: Sense of helplessness, insomnia, change in sex drive, hallucinations and feeling completely out of control. Women are also roughly twice as likely to be possessed by a demon. The symptoms are the same . . . “
While chock full of funny moments, the show teeters on the dark side, delving into topics like mental illness, marital strife and alcoholism, with the decidedly sunny backdrop of Shining Vale serving as the perfect foil for the somber subject matter.
Producers looked to Los Angeles’ Burbank and Pasadena areas to create the fictional suburban hamlet. Shining Vale’s quaint downtown, with its park, central gazebo and bookstore café named “Scarlet Latte,” is actually the Midwest Street section of the Warner Bros. Studio backlot. The restaurant where Pat grabs lunch with her editor in episode two can be found on Midwest Street, as well – and it’s a spot that should look familiar to both fans of “Pretty Little Liars” and “Gilmore Girls” as it also portrayed Apple Rose Grille and Luke’s Diner, respectively, on the two popular series. In “Shining Vale’s” premiere episode, Pat waits for the school bus with Gaynor and Jake on the 1100 block of Glendon Wy. in South Pasadena. And the show’s central location, the mansion the Phelps family calls home, is another South Pasadena locale. Said to be located on Elm St., in truth, it can be found tucked away behind tall hedges at 423 Oaklawn Ave. (Please remember this is a private residence. Do not trespass or bother the property or its owners in any way.)