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The Grass Isn’t Greener Outside of Garland

Garland has been mercilessly snubbed in one too many Hollywood films--notably more than any other Dallas suburb. But there are reasons you'd like to explore our neighbor.
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Downtown Garland.

Let’s give Garland some shine, shall we? In the May issue, we bring you reports from some of our favorite Dallas suburbs. That story is online today. You can read it here. That Garland did not make it into the feature should not be viewed as a snub, though I’d forgive Garlanders for seeing it that way. They are accustomed to getting snubbed. If I had taken the sort of shots that have been lobbed their way, I’d be defensive, too. Far as I can tell, Garland has been maligned onscreen more mercilessly than any other Dallas suburb. 

Red Oak and Waxahachie served their roles well in 1967’s Bonnie and Clyde. McKinney did fine in the 1974 movie Benji. Maybe you could say Irving didn’t look great in 1999’s Office Space. And if you don’t dig standing around and drinking beer with your neighbors, then King of the Hill makes propane sales and several Dallas burbs look less than idyllic. It’s not entirely clear which burb gets hit hardest in that cartoon, given that its fictional setting is a portmanteau called Arlen.

But there’s no question about Garland in Woody Harrelson’s Zombieland, from 2009. Jesse Eisenberg’s character, Columbus, opens the movie in a dreary gas station at night. He says in a voiceover, “That guy down there is me. I’m in Garland, Texas. And it may look like zombies destroyed it, but that’s actually just Garland.” 

That is a snub. The scene is not mentioned anywhere on the Visit Garland website. Nor is the 1999 movie Three Kings, in which Mark Wahlberg’s character, Troy Barlow, says, “One gold Rolex would get me a very nice split-level house outside of Garland.” 

This one might at first seem tricky. Is “outside of Garland” actually a shot at Rowlett or possibly even Sachse? No, it’s not. It’s a shot a Garland. 

So let’s turn this negative narrative around. Did you know that Garland has one of the largest populations in the country of Vietnamese Americans? Yes, the 2010 U.S. Census found that Arlington has more, but does Arlington have something called a Garland Pho Real Trail that comprises 19 restaurants? It does not. And, after 19 bowls of pho, if you want a break from pho, Bon Appétit last year named Garland’s El Rincón del Maíz one of the 50 best new restaurants in the country.  

Finally, only Garland has the courage to host a .5K race—yes, half a kilometer—called the Garland Guzzler, the inaugural run of which, in 2018, yours truly finished in seventh place. By the way, due to construction on the town square, this year’s Guzzler and Oktoberfest festivities have been moved to a nearby parking lot. The race is September 23. I’ll see you there. 

And when Hollywood dramatizes my inspiring 2023 Guzzler victory, I promise you that in his post-race celebration, with a stein from Intrinsic Smokehouse & Brewery in hand, Bradley Cooper will wipe suds from his beautiful mouth and proclaim these words borrowed from the town’s CVB website: “Garland’s got it!”  

Until then, give our suburbs feature a read. It’s online now.

This story originally appeared in the May issue of D Magazine with the headline, “In Defense of Garland. Write to [email protected].


Tim Rogers

Tim Rogers

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Tim is the editor of D Magazine, where he has worked since 2001. He won a National Magazine Award in…

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