As Seen on Television

November 29, 2018


The water sector may not be the most glamorous of industries, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t earned its moment in the Hollywood spotlight.

We thought it would be fun to highlight the ways in which Tinseltown has shown water, wastewater treatment, and collection systems on film and television. Some of the depictions are serious, others are humorous or outright terrifying. Some come straight from real life, and others from fiction. But they all bring attention to a field that many laypeople know little or nothing about.

Britain’s Favorite Fatbergs – from Tracey Ullman’s Show (season 3, episode 8)

On the HBO’s (New York) Tracey Ullman’s Show, Ullman does a skit where she plays the actress, Julie Walters, starring in a mock BBC1 documentary series. In the series, Walters travels all over Great Britain, searching through collection systems on a quest to find the country’s “favorite fatbergs.” (Password is required to access the video. The skit is at the 16:21 mark.)


Synagro – from Undercover Boss (season 2, episode 19)

In an episode of the reality series, Undercover Boss, Bill Massa, the then president and chief executive officer of Synagro (White Marsh, Md.), one of the largest wastewater treatment corporations in the U.S., went undercover as one of his employees. He found himself cleaning a tank of 27-year-old solids. (Episode is available on Netflix with a subscription.)


Fatberg Five – from Younger (season 5, episode 12)

The topic of fatbergs comes up again on Paramount Network’s (New York) series, Younger, when Enzo, played by the actor Chris Tardio, is selected by New York City to be a member of the Fatberg 5, a task force of “sewage engineers.” Together they must handle the removal of a fatberg clogging a pipe located under 68th St. and Lexington Ave. Enzo is excited about his appointment to the task force, but his girlfriend treats it like it’s a big joke.

Access a video clip at

See the full episode (available with password sign-in):

Passage – from Madam Secretary (season 1, episode 7)

Téa Leone plays Secretary of State Elizabeth McCord and gives a speech at the “Hepanza Chemical Factory,” which appears to be the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant (Brooklyn, N.Y.) operated by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection. (Available on Netflix with subscription. The clip appears at the 9-min. mark.)

See the video:

The Derry sewer maps – IT (2017)

A shape-shifting monster plagues the sewers of the fictional town of Derry, Maine, making storm drains and outfalls very dangerous places for young people in town. In one scene, Bill Denbrough, played by Jaeden Lieberher, examines maps of the town and the sewer system in hopes that he and his friends can finally track “IT” down and kill the monster — until they get a nasty scare.

See the video:

LaShell Stratton-Childers, WEF Highlights

Share Your Favorite Water Sector Moments from the Big Screen

Have you seen a mention of the water sector in another television show or movie? Share it with the Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) editors. Your favorite moments might be featured in another “As Seen on TV” article. Send any suggestions to WEF Highlights Editor Jennifer Fulcher at

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