I recently started watching the TV series “Walker,” the reboot of “Walker: Texas Ranger.” While it the genre may not be for everyone, one of the things that really stands out is the beauty of the Lone Star State. It certainly gave me a new appreciation for the state we call home.
“Walker” is filmed on location in Texas, and our state is more than just a background on the show – it’s essentially a character in its own right. If I’m being honest, I don’t think people would be nearly as drawn to watch a show about a lawman in Delaware. (No offense, Delaware.) Here are just some of the ways that Texas captures people’s attention and some recommendations if you want to take a deeper dive.
Texas itself has always stood apart from many other states symbolically due to its independent streak. And whether we’re talking about the original character played by Chuck Norris or the current one played by Jared Padalecki, the character Cordell Walker is a maverick through and through. For a look at the people who represent the independent spirit of our state, check out “The Face of Texas,” a compendium of portraits of famous and ordinary Texans by photographer Michael O'Brien.
The Texas Rangers, though a relatively small law enforcement agency, are iconic symbols of Texas justice. That was true even before Chuck Norris roundhouse-kicked his way across people’s television screens in the 1990s. Despite their white hats, their history isn’t all good; and understanding the ways they have protected powerful people and been protected by them is something that has to be acknowledged. “Cult of Glory: The Bold and Brutal History of the Texas Rangers” by Doug J. Swanson does just that, documenting the highs and lows of the agency.
Set largely in the Texas Hill Country around Austin, the cinematography of the landscapes is one of the best parts about “Walker.” Sprawling ranches, Ashe Junipers, and Texas highways provide a comforting, familiar backdrop to a show that also features its fair share of action and adventure. It’s like watching “Texas Country Reporter,” but with fight scenes and family drama.
Even if “Walker” isn’t for you, it’s hard to deny the incredible scenery surrounding us in the state we call home. If you’re ready to hit the road, “Scenic Driving Texas” is an up-to-date guide featuring different routes you can follow to experience some of the best drives Texas has to offer.
As a side note, I’d be remiss not to mention that I’d love a Texas Gulf Coast storyline on “Walker.” Bayous and beaches (and maybe some gritty former refineries) would make another great backdrop, if you ask me.
Rodeos and ranches are deeply rooted aspects of the historical and modern culture of Texas, and they serve as settings for a lot of the drama on “Walker.” I was curious about how women and people of color fit into rodeo and ranching culture. The book “Texas Women and Ranching” explores how women have always been present and influential in these arenas. “Black Cowboys of Texas” is a collection of biographical essays featuring Black men and women whose legacies have similarly been overlooked.
One of the things I most enjoy seeing reflected in “Walker” is the diversity of people in our state. The show doesn’t shy away from some of the conflicts Texans experience as part of our day-to-day lives, including the tensions around immigration, drug trafficking, abuse of power by some members of law enforcement, and the struggles minorities face when it comes to proving themselves. While some people outside of Texas may think of us as a monolith, we’re filled with many different people and cultures coming together to combine the best of our unique worlds.
“Walker” also features people who love barbecue, taco trucks, chili cookoffs, beer, and whiskey… It’s cliché, but I can’t say it’s inaccurate, either. If you’re ready to go on self-made culinary adventure featuring a lot of food that Texas does best, “The Big Texas Cookbook” is a great way to dive right in.
When I watch “Walker,” it reminds me that I live in a truly special place. Let’s celebrate the people, places, and traditions that make this state unique. I mean, it’s Texas, y’all.
If you’d like some additional Texas-focused picks, check out the other suggestions below.