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These are two very common plots in fiction and naturally occur quite often in real life too. But their execution is extremely different and often leads to a Double Standard.

Plot A: Alice is a sweet Country Mouse who grew up in a sparsely-populated rural area, either on a farm or simply a small town in the middle of nowhere. Either of her own desire or against her will she moves to the big city. She doesn't like it because it's so much bigger, city people aren't as friendly and they look down on her because they consider her a backwoods hick. This kind of plot is usually resolved by Alice getting to move back to the country and appreciating it more if she originally hated it.

Plot B: Bob is a City Mouse who lives in a big city with lots of friends and loves to go everywhere. He's likely very independent and materialistic as well. Almost always against his will, he is moved to a much smaller area be it the suburbs or a small town. He will hate it because it's boring, there's nothing to do, and country people are completely different from city people. If it's a farm he'll resent having to help out on the farm. By the end of the story he'll have learned An Aesop and come to like his new home, realising it is much better than his old life.

Plot B2: Alice used to be a Country Mouse but moved to the big city and now has become a City Mouse, and is usually embarrassed by her humble origins... then is forced to go back home, same as Plot B, although there will usually be a rekindled forgotten Childhood Friend Romance as well.

As you can see there is a very obvious Double Standard in that a country person who doesn't like life in the city is free to move back home while a city person will just have to put up with life in the country. Some works will portray the city as being full of criminals and shady people, often with a lot of drugs thrown in while the country people will be more innocent, ignoring the obvious fact that small towns have drugs and criminals as well. Compare Welcome to the Big City, Country Mouse and City Mouse. It's worth noting that the characters who move do not necessarily have to fit the Country Mouse/City Mouse character types.

Blitz Evacuees is often a very specific form of plot B (and one of the few kinds where the city-loving characters in the country might end up going back -- after the war is over, of course). Compare Arcadia.

Examples of The City vs. the Country include:


Move From Country To City:

Film

  • In Big Business, which is a 1980s update of The Comedy of Errors, two hick sisters come to town to protest an Evil Corporation- that unbeknownst to them, their sisters (one of each set of twins was Switched and Separated at Birth) work for. A rare case of one of them being more comfortable in the city and deciding to stay.
  • This is the plot for the Babe sequel, "Babe: Pig in the City" for both Babe and the farmer's wife.

Literature

  • In Aesop's Fables the Country Mouse visits her friend the City Mouse and is terrified by the city, swearing never to go back again because the country is simpler and safer.
  • The Bell Jar has Esther Greenwood struggling to survive in New York City.
  • The Secret of Drumshee Castle plays both plots out. Both Grace and Judith are country girls from the south of Ireland and visit England. Grace decides she prefers the simple life of the countryside but Judith stays in England, loving the lifestyle.
  • Diggory Kirke in The Magicians Nephew is very unhappy that he has to move from his country home to a house in London when his mother falls ill. When she recovers he is overjoyed to return to the country. Frank the cab driver is also from the country and is thrilled when he becomes King of Narnia. CS Lewis also gives a rather unfortunately phrased paragraph about how city people talk and Frank's reward is getting his old country accent back.
  • This is the premise of Black Beauty when the titular character ends up in London driving cabs. Of course it's completely justified since he's a horse and would be better suited living in the country.

Live Action TV

  • Perfect Strangers was mostly about Country Mouse Balki Bartokomous moving to Chicago and living with his American cousin Larry Appleton, Balki remains a Fish Out of Water throughout the series, but unlike other examples, Balki takes to city life quite well.

Music

  • The video for The Script's "For The First Time" has a young Irish couple living in New York for work and missing Ireland. At the end of the video they buy tickets to move back home.

Theater

  • Bernice Bobs Her Mullet, a musical adaptation of Bernice Bobs Her Hair, has Bernice from a hick town visiting her cousin in the City (pretty much the opposite of the original story, though the rest of the plot is exactly the same).

Western Animation

  • In Hey Arnold Lila moves from a farm to the big city and is immediately resented and made fun of by the other kids. Subverted when she stays in the city and the other kids warm to her.
  • In the My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic episode 'The Cutie Mark Chronicles', Applejack relates how when she was younger she decided to leave Ponyville and live the sophisticated life with wealthy relatives in Manehatten. She returned home once she realized she didn't fit in and was happier on the farm.
  • The The Powerpuff Girls episode "Town and Out": the Utonium family moves to the metropolis of Cytysville, only to realize that it can't compare to Townsville, their original home.
  • In the Strawberry Shortcake's Berry Bitty Adventures episode "A Star is Fashioned," Raspberry Torte goes to Berry Big City to talk with a fashion designer about her designs, and is given her own studio in the city. However, when she returns to pack up her things, the behavior of city folk juxtaposed to the behavior of her small-town friends makes her change her mind and decide to stay, even though this means giving up fame and fortune.

Moving From City To Country:

Film

  • Arachnophobia has a young doctor and his family move into a small town. The townspeople immediately resent him for being from the city.
  • The Nephew has an American teenager moving from New York to a remote and conservative Irish island. After clashing with his uncle he decides to go back to America but eventually is convinced to stay.
  • Jersey Girl has Ben Affleck's character forced to give up his publicist job and move from New York to New Jersey in order to raise his daughter. He tries to get his publicist job back and suggests moving back to the city but of course he learns his Aesop.
  • Doc Hollywood has a hotshot plastic surgeon on his way to a new job in Hollywood crash his car and have to do community service as a doctor in South Carolina.
  • In Sweet Home Alabama, a woman from Sweet Home Alabama who has become a fashion designer in Big Applesauce has to go home to sever ties with her Childhood Marriage Promise who she actually married and he never signed the divorce papers before she can marry her New York fiance.

Literature

  • millenium@drumshee has English brat Emma get moved to the South of Ireland and not getting a long with the locals at all. She eventually bonds with a local girl on their mutual love of dogs and becomes happier there.
  • James Qwilleran of The Cat Who... series by Lillian Jackson Braun is a big-city journalist who moves to a small town in Moose County under the terms of his Aunt Fanny's will. Several early novels in the series detail his adjustment (and that of his cats Koko and Yum-Yum).

Live Action TV

  • In How I Met Your Mother Ted and Stella debate over whether Stella and her daughter will move to New York or Ted will move to New Jersey to live with them. Stella wins. Subverted when Stella and her daughter move in with Tony in the city.
  • Everwood's premise is that of a New York City doctor moving his family out to rural Colorado after his wife's death.
  • Played with in Green Acres. Oliver is tired of city life and moves to Hooterville to live the idyllic (he thinks) life of a farmer. He finds, however, that Hooterville operates by its own peculiar set of rules, and is often frustrated by its colorful denizens. His socialite wife Lisa is always begging him to return to the city, but, ironically, she is the one who fits in, as she is as loopy as the Hootervillians.
  • The premise of Northern Exposure. Fish Out of Water Joel is a New York City boy fresh out of medical school; the state of Alaska paid for his education in return for him practicing in Alaska for 4 years. He's supposed to be posted in Anchorage but they overbudgeted their doctor-payments. He thinks that means he doesn't have to work in Alaska at all, but instead they send him to the tiny town of Cicely, where he spends a couple of years resenting being there before finally blending in, and eventually Going Native - when the government of Alaska is forced to let him out of his contract early, he leaves Cicely but stays in unincorporated Alaska.
  • The reality series Escape To The Country which is pretty much Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
  • The Kenan and Kel two-parter where Kenan's family moves to Montana so Roger can live out his dream of being a park ranger. Subverted when the whole family hates the run-down house, Kenan hates his new school and Roger finds his job boring and the family can't wait to move back to Chicago.
  • An episode of Sex and the City featured Carrie spending a week out in the middle of no where with her boyfriend and his cabin. She had a mental breakdown by the time a squirrel tried to approach her.
  • Perfect Strangers was mostly about a Country Mouse moving to the City, but two episodes went back the other way.
    • On one visit back to Mypos, Balki brings Larry to his old home, and the City Mouse falls in love with it.
    • Balki meets his cousin Bartok, a Country Mouse who became a City Mouse named Bart, and lost his old world accent and mannerisms. Bart comes looking for money, which Larry believes is Bart trying to take advantage of Balki, but Balki gives him the money anyway; this leads to an emotional moment as Balki wrote the check to "Bartok", as he doesn't know "Bart", and Bartok regrets losing touch of his old Country Mouse self.

Newspaper Comics

Western Animation

  • Twilight Sparkle in My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic is a Lighter and Softer version of this. She's sent from Canterlot to Ponyville in part to prepare for a celebration held there, but is also told to make friends while there. She resents having to do this, and focuses on work instead, but by the end of the 2-part pilot, she's warmed up to her newfound friends and wishes to stay with them.
  • Cherry Jam from Strawberry Shortcake's Berry Bitty Adventures is a variation, as she purposefully chose to perform a gig in Berry Bitty City because it was a small town, and ended up liking the place so much that she made it her new home. She specifically points out the friendliness of the BBC residents over those of Berry Big City.

Real Life

  • The implication that urban Americans are not as "American" or "patriotic" as their small-town relations is a well-known Berserk Button of The Daily Show's Jon Stewart (as well as many urban Americans). The attitude itself can be found as far back as Thomas Jefferson, who maintained that America ought to be a primarily agrarian nation for democracy to survive (he lived before urbanization became a widespread phenomenon, so it's a bit more excusable).
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