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Santa Barbara Pop Culture

Aside from having had a respectably long-running soap opera named for it (in which Robin Wright Penn got her start), Santa Barbara now has a detective show, Psych, set in its environs. Episodes of The Bachelor and Top Chef have also taken place in Santa Barbara. Writer Sue Grafton’s alphabet-lettered mysteries take place in a Santa Barbara stand-in, and Ross MacDonald lived and set books in Santa Barbara. Celebrated travel writer Pico Iyer lives here and has written about Santa Barbara. In the early days of silent film, Santa Barbara was home to movie studios, producing classics like Perils of Pauline. And remember Jeff Bridges in the ‘80s movie Cutter’s Way? A key scene takes place at the parade during Old Spanish Days Fiesta. More recently, Sideways, the 2004 movie that took place in the Santa Ynez Valley, not only gave Merlot a bad name, but drew fans to the Valley’s wineries (you can download the “Sideways Map” from More recently, It’s Complicated, starring Meryl Streep, Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin, took place in Santa Barbara.