HBO’s ‘Perry Mason’ is a crime drama that follows the titular character, a criminal defense lawyer who follows a detective’s methodology. Based on the book series featuring Perry Mason by Erle Stanley Gardner, the show provides an origin story to the character while creating new cases and giving its own twist to the character. The popularity of Gardner’s story is evident from the fact that this is not the first iteration of his stories.
The TV series of the same name originally aired from 1957 to 1966 on CBS and had its own interpretation of the iconic character. The HBO series differs greatly from its predecessor, especially in its timing and setting. If you are wondering where and when ‘Perry Mason,’ starring Matthew Rhys, is set, here’s what you should know. SPOILERS AHEAD
When Does Perry Mason Season 2 Take Place?
The second season of ‘Perry Mason’ takes place in 1933. The series’ first season takes place in 1932 and follows the case of Charlie Dodson’s murder. The sophomore season takes place only a few months after the finale of Season 1. This is when Perry Mason has graduated from a private investigator to a criminal defense lawyer and has already won (technically gotten a mistrial) his first case. One would think this is the end of the Dodson story, but the events following the trial still haunt Mason.
While the first season serves as the origin story for Mason, the second season sees him in the same color as he was painted in Gardner’s novels and presented in the CBS series. This season also catches up with the timeline in which the novels were originally written. The first book in the series, ‘The Case of the Velvet Claws’ was published in 1933. This was also the year that the Great Depression was at its worse and caused a steep decline in the world economy.
For showrunners Jack Amiel and Michael Begler, “the worst year of the depression in L.A.” was a great opportunity to ground the story into reality and use historical accuracy to make the story come alive. Corruption and greed become the central themes in this season, and in between this, we also find Mason struggling with the impact that the Dodson case had on him. A few months after he secured Emily Dodson’s freedom, Mason comes face to face with the realities of the justice system and what winning actually means.
“He’s slightly just trying to keep his head and figure out what it is he wants in his life. He’s a little bit lost. He’s always the outsider. He’s always never quite fitting in anywhere, and I think that’s true in Season Two again. You find him trying to figure out whether this is really something he not only wants to do but can actually do,” Matthew Rhys said while talking about the state of mind that Perry Mason is in the second season.
Where Does Perry Mason Season 2 Take Place?
‘Perry Mason’ is set in the city of Los Angeles and follows the political and criminal undertakings of the city. While the show’s timeline changes over the seasons, the location remains the same, with each season unpeeling a different layer of the city, showing its various facets to the audience. In this context, the city becomes a character in the show, one that hides many secrets while revealing just a few and impacting the lives of the lead characters tremendously.
Setting the story in 1933 LA allowed the showrunners to present two sides of the city. “This whole idea of the two Los Angeleses—the glamorous money side of the city, but there’s also a tremendous amount of poverty. There’s all these Hoovervilles that are popping up. You saw that world in Season One, but we wanted to explore that even further,” Begler said. This contrast in the city becomes one of the driving factors of the story in the second season, making LA an important plot device.