I don't often enter contests, but sometimes, it's not about the prize, it's about the idea! Although here in Canada, that coveted TV is out of my reach, I'm still a huge fan of envisioning my life in the many lovely fictitious universes that I see on the big screen. Of course it helps that these worlds are always beautifully lit, filled with gorgeous people and come complete with a soundtrack... But even ignoring that, there are still some places that I would give my firstborn to live in, or even drop by for a quick visit.
I decided to limit myself a little; assuming that a) I would pretend that the versions of NYC that we see in so many movies where everything is glorious and a writer can afford to own a brownstone apartment on the upper east side (*cough SATC) are actually real, and not include them and b) I would limit myself to movies. TV series are a whole new kettle of fish, and I would have to extend this to a top 10 to even begin to include everything I wanted to.
I also decided to be as honest with myself as I could - there are some other worlds that I'm sure I would love to be part of...as the conquering hero, the chosen one, the glorious central character who is guaranteed to live to the end, but let's face it, that's probably not me. Therefore, these are worlds where I would want to live as Jo Average, your standard mid-range inhabitant.
Failing to limit myself to one, here are my top five ideal fictional worlds:
5. Harry Potter's Magical World (Harry Potter Franchise)
It may be surprising that this wand-waving universe comes in this far down the list, but I have my reasons! For one thing, it's essentially the same world we live in now, but with the addition of some fabulous spells. It's a huge improvement on being a muggle, sure, but as a muggle-born, the ability to fly a broom wouldn't negate every frustration that I have with modern life.
In almost every other magical world, you don't have to go to school, pass exams, apply for jobs, wear a suit...these are all the things I want to get away from in my fantasy life! If you give me the choice between wands and equipment I have to actually buy (hoping I can afford them on the salary of whatever job my NEWT results were good enough to get) or just happening to have powers in a world without any of that... well, I'll admit it. My dislike of office jobs isn't going to be mitigated by the fact that I can make the envelopes all magically lick themselves. (Also, the whole flying-memo situation there; apparently magic means that no one ever invented e-mail. No. Thank. You.)
4. Lyra's World (The Golden Compass)
While the actual film version of The Northern Lights may have bombed, I've always loved the world in which it's set, first and foremost because I want a daemon. A part of my soul in animal form, with a quasi-telepathic link (so much more than just chatting in my head!), which settles on a form that reveals my true self? Who wouldn't want that? While Lyra herself may not have had the best time in her world (Gobblers, manipulative parents, journeys to the underworld), it's still an incredible world to be part of. Witches, talking bears, actual cities (no hovels and drafty castles here, thank you), magic and wonder, and (of course) skirts and gowns and beautiful robes. Not a pair of yoga pants in sight.
3. Asgard (Marvel: Thor/Avengers)
I had to include at least one comic book world, but let's face it, most of them are just like our world, but extremely susceptible to supervillainy and constant peril. Who would choose to live there? Seeing Spiderman just wouldn't make up for the probability of being horrifically murdered by an evil scientist. Asgard, on the other hand, seems like it's held on to peace and prosperity for some time (Loki aside, of course). It's gorgeous, golden and women can rise high as warriors, which is definitely a plus. Add to that sweeping gowns, magic, honor, and heavy drinking, and I'd happily spend a few years in Asgard, even if I didn't get to see Thor in the (ridiculously good-looking) flesh.
2. Andalasia (Enchanted)
Okay, this may be cheating a little, but I'm actually going to include every classic Disney world - I couldn't narrow it down to just one! Let's face it, I want to be a Disney princess, and Andalasia is the perfect example of why, although any of the classic forest-and-castle based options sounds like a welcome vacation from the real world.
Facebook, smartphones, constant contact and internet trolls all get left behind, along with the 9-5 grind (not that I do that anyway), keeping up with the Joneses and making car insurance payments. I get to wear gorgeous gowns, have a slew of adorable animal helpers (to help me clean either a sweet little cottage or a charming country home), perfect hair, and no one would look twice if I started singing and dancing. Top that off with an actual royal ball, and I don't even need the Prince Charming.
1. The Shire (The Hobbit, The Lord Of The Rings)
Hands down, the winner (because even I would get a little sick of Andalasia after a few years). Despite the slightly suffocating nature of any small town, it would still be impossible to be unhappy in a perfect little hole in the ground in Hobbiton. Rolling fields, a pretty garden, a cozy pub and the possibility of adventuring in the wider world? Perfection.
More than just being picturesque and idyllic, this is the ideal writer's retreat, and having some quirks is seemingly acceptable (at least, Bilbo got away with it). No smog, no pollution, no noisy cars being over-revved by some juiced-up idiot, no supermarkets packed with boxed food-like-product, nope, it's all real food, scrubbed wooden benches and fresh air. Ahhhh.
Oh, and I get to wear pretty dresses All. The. Time. Not to mention hooded cloaks on top of them and a sword buckled at my belt. Finally, I love that while magic exists in the world of Middle Earth, and little glimpses of it may come to our green world, I wouldn't actually have to be too terrified of running into any evil magical beings. For the most part, no one else really knows that Hobbits exist, and I would be free to be completely alone with a cup of tea and a little something to smoke.
Heaven is a place on (Middle) Earth.