For those following the drama that's, quite literally, heating up on Hulu's new series Little Fires Everywhere, you've probably wondered whether or not Shaker Heights is a real place. As it turns out, the idyllic town with charming homes and troubled teens that looks like a suburban wonderland in the series, which is based on Celeste Ng's book of the same name, does actually exist on a map.
Shaker Heights is a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio, with a population of about 27,300 people, according to data from the United States Census Bureau. It's only a 25-minute train ride to Cleveland and was recently ranked the 12th best suburb in America, according to Cleveland.com. The town says it takes pride in its historic architecture, "top notch" schools, and diverse population.
Ng, who's also a producer on the Hulu series, grew up in Shaker Heights and found herself drawn to her hometown after she left in 1998 to attend Harvard University, according to NBC News. Ng told Ohio Magazine in September 2017 that she "really loved" growing up in Shaker Heights. "It was an idealized American childhood, a place where you could walk to school," she said. "I loved being around people who were different from me in a lot of different ways, and I liked how much race was a part of the conversation. I had friends who lived in mansions and I had friends who lived in two-family houses."
Little Fires Everywhere, which takes place in the late 90s, focuses on the Richardson family, led by Reese Witherspoon, and how their lives get shaken up when Mia Warren, played by Kerry Washington, and her daughter Pearl move into town. Although Little Fires Everywhere might paint the suburb as a place with lots of secrets, Ng told the News-Herald in March that people from Shaker Heights have responded positively to the book's setting. "It's like writing a description of a relative," she explained.
"You want people to see all the things about them that you love and think are wonderful, and you also want to acknowledge the weird things they do, but overall you want them to feel like they are loved — and I think most people in Shaker have taken the book in that way," Ng told the News-Herald.
If you do end up taking a trip to Shaker Heights, don't be surprised if you can't exactly locate the Richardsons' home. The series was actually filmed on set in Los Angeles, according to Architectural Digest, with two different Los Angeles-area homes serving as the exterior for the Richardson mansion and the Warren's duplex. Ng was able to drive around Los Angeles with a producer of the show to help find houses that could work, according to ABC News 5 Cleveland. But don't worry — no homes were actually burnt down during the making of the show.