Alison Meek


In the 1950s, Miami, Florida, earned a reputation as a tourist destination for its "arresting combination of sun, sand, and sea."1 But by the late 1970s and early 1980s, that image had changed dramatically. Instead of sandy beaches and year-round warm tropical rays of sun tanning pasty tourists, Miami developed an image in the national and international media centered on drug cartel shoot-outs, Cuban refugees, and race riots. To make matters worse, in the eyes of Miami's tourist honchos, a new NBC weekly series focused on the city was set to debut in the fall of 1984. Michael Mann's Miami Vice, a show about cops violently taking on Miami's seedy underbelly, sent city officials into near panic. But before long, as the show became a cultural phenomenon at home and abroad, Miami's tourist officials began to change their tune: within a year, Miami Vice was touted as the show that saved Miami's image.