Given its abundance of drive-through daiquiri shops, Louisiana’s dominance on this new list of the happiest cities in America isn’t surprising. Said list, which was released in a paper from professors at Harvard and the Vancouver School, found that the top five happiest cities were Lafayette, Houma, Shreveport-Bossier City, Baton Rouge, and Alexandria–all of them in Louisiana. Charlotte, North Carolina, and Naples, Florida, were also tagged as “abnormally happy,” though whoever added “abnormally” clearly hasn’t visited the South.
After all, people cry during Mardi Gras about as often as they cry when hanging out with a grumble of pugs dressed as kings. And it’s pretty hard to be sad when you’re chomping down on an alligator, and it’s not the other way around.
Still, we know that there are lies, damned lies, and statistics. So we took to the telly to see how some of our favorite Louisianians are enjoying life in America’s boot. We’ve ranked them from least happy to most joyful.
Name: Bill Compton
Lives: Bon Temps, Louisiana
Age: 175 years old
Profession: Climbing the ranks of the vampire monarchy
Where You Met Him: True Blood
Happiness Level (1-10): 4
Bill Compton, or “Vampire Bill” as everyone seems so intent on calling him, flips around on the happiness scale about as often as he changes jobs. Though he’s been alive for 175 years, his life has been anything but consistent. It doesn’t help that his family’s long gone, and he’s cursed with an insatiable thirst for blood. As far as Louisiana residents go, he’s kind of a downer. I mean, just watch this interview with him.
Name: Rustin Cohle
Lives: Lake Charles, Louisiana / Alaska / Carcosa
Profession: Homicide Detective / Moribund Philosopher / Richest Bartender Ever / Storage Space Squatter
Where You Met Him: True Detective, in his 30s
Happiness Level (1-10): Started from the bottom, now we here: From 1 to 7
Rust Cohle might have enjoyed the peaceful bayous of Louisiana, but he spent far too much time in Alaska. And, since time is a flat circle, we know he’ll be back in the arctic tundra over and over again. It leaves him grumpy for 10-year spans, but he sees light at the end of the tunnel. Plus, he loves bahn mi, which Louisiana has in abundance. But even when he caught a big break–like starring in this AT&T commercial–he can’t help but let his Nietzsche-inspired education bring him down.
Name: Creighton Bernette
Lives: New Orleans, Louisiana
Where You Met Him: Treme
Profession: Tulane English Professor / Aspiring Novelist / YouTube Personality
Happiness Level (1-10): 7.3 … with a slight dropoff
Sure, he gives simultaneously inspired and depressing lectures during his class, and his first televised season might have ended with a splash, but give Creighton a BBQ shrimp po’boy from Liuzza’s by the Track and the ability to post on YouTube, and he’s humming like a pelican. Finding joy in such simplicities is as Louisiana as it gets.
Name: Mary Lynn “M’Lynn” Eatenton
From: Natchitoches, Louisiana
Profession: Matriarch of the house / entire town
Where You Met Her: Steel Magnolias
Happiness level: A hot-tempered 8
As far as slightly high-strung moms go, M’Lynn’s passionate tirades and energetic upkeep of her family shows she is a high-spirited broad. This even with a wedding to plan, a sick daughter, and three men in the house who never seemed to mentally progress past the age of two. Of course, it’s probably hard to let your mood go sour when you’ve got a big clan of sassy, animated friends around and 24-hour access to a hair salon. I mean, who goes from crying to laughing this quickly?
Name: Robert “Bobby” Boucher, Jr.
Lives: Somewhere in Cajun Country, Louisiana
Age: Younger Than You
Where You Met Him: The Waterboy
Profession: Waterboy, University of Louisiana
Happiness Level (1-10): 8.5
To live in Louisiana is to have a close relationship with water, one Bobby Boucher works on every day of his life. He also knows where Gatorade belonged: in Florida. His love of water propelled his meteoric rise to fame, and, though as simple “water sucks” can boil his gumbo-diluted blood, he has what so many of us want: purpose. And that makes old Bobby a pretty happy fellow.
From: The Bathtub, Louisiana
Age: 6 years old
Where You Met Her: Beasts of the Southern Wild
Profession: Child / Daughter / Semi-Professional Arm Wrestler / Animal Whisperer
Happiness Level (1-10): 10
With The Bathtub filling up with water and her father, Wink, catching a disease that can’t be uncaught, Hushpuppy has plenty of reasons to be unhappy. She should probably be one of the most unhappy people around, but like so many of those from Louisiana and the South in general, she finds joy in the small moments that make up our lives, cutting through the monotony by eating crabs and arm wrestling. If you want to know why Louisiana so mightily topped this list, just sit down and hear what Hushpuppy has to say.
Southern Fried Column is a weekly column brought to you by Travis M. Andrews that focuses on the fun, the ridiculous, and the trending in these here Southern United States. Because sometimes home is a little absurd.