Poets and novelists have tried and failed.
Even some daring newspaper columnists have attempted - also in vain - to fully convey Charleston's ultimately indescribable enchantment with the written word.
But not until last Sunday night's premiere of the CBS drama series "Reckless" has any portrayal of our city started with a policeman having his way with a woman whom he pulled, then handcuffed to a fence.
OK, so it turns out she's a cop, too. And after their, ahem, brief encounter, she tells her colleague: "I like the cuffs, Terry - it's a nice addition."
CBS executives, though, can't like the opener's dismal ratings - it drew only 4 million viewers in that 9-10 p.m. time slot, a sharp drop from the "Big Brother" episode that preceded it.
And plenty of folks around here rightly dislike what the show's website pitches as "a sultry legal drama" in which "dark secrets simmer behind every door and threaten to tarnish the genteel facade of seductive Charleston."
Hey, who's been revealing our "dark secrets"?
Back to that first episode, written by "Reckless" creator Dana Stevens:
Defense attorney Jamie Sawyer (played by Anna Wood), who grew up on Chicago's mean streets, and homegrown Charleston prosecutor Roy Rayder (Cam Gigandet) are entering the courtroom.
Roy, in a mildly Southern but clearly not Charleston accent: "Counselor, you look lovely, as usual."
Jamie: "Save the gentleman schtick for the press, Roy, or the waitresses at Hooter's or whoever it works on."
Roy: "Don't be dissin' Hooter's - you might be workin' there some day."
After more verbal sparring/flirting in court, Jamie tells Roy as they leave that his murder case against her client won't hold up - and that she could tell from watching him that he knows it.
Roy: "You know, I watch you, too, and you know what I see? I see a Yankee lawyer in expensive shoes who doesn't know how to work a Southern jury or a Southern D.A."
Jamie: "Assistant D.A."
Roy: "You see, that is exactly what I'm talkin' about."
Jamie: "Believe me, Roy, under the right circumstances I would know exactly how to work you."
Detective on call?
Roy's smitten with Jamie, and vice versa. Though he's still married, his wife's in the process of dumping him.
Jamie's got a boyfriend - Preston (Adam Rodriguez), a police detective who's not from around here. Jamie cozies up to Preston in one of our wild local nightclubs where some uninhibited patrons are lasciviously dancing. She presses him for information about another detective.
Preston: "Look, Jamie, I don't wanna be your inside man in the department. I'd rather be your booty call."
Roy, meanwhile, has an inside track to a better job.
His father-in-law, Dec Fortnum (Gregory Harrison), summons Roy to his office, where he and some big-shot guests are devouring crawfish. Roy declines their offer of food, but accepts their offer to become city attorney after Dec sweetens the deal by making him a partner in his firm.
Tom (Mike Pniewski) from the mayor's office: "Roy, you probably know that the mayor has finally decided to retire."
Davis (Andy Stahl), head of the state Democratic party: "And I think it's safe to say that the next mayor won't be a Democrat."
It's also safe to say that the final-term Democratic mayor standing near Roy in the ceremony heralding his city-attorney appointment is short and wears glasses. That's as close as "Reckless" gets to the real Charleston, other than some swell shots of grandly scenic local sights.
Back to Jamie: She tells Roy that police detective Terry (Shawn Hatosy) "is harassing my client's girlfriend - offering to change his testimony in return for sex."
Jamie later tells Georgina (Lee Anne Marcus): "They have the tape - footage of you and three other men, including Terry, having sex on a police car."
Out of place
Back in court, Jamie melts a ring, melting Roy's murder case in the science-project process.
Judge Garner (Tim Ware), who sounds much more like backwoods Arkansas than downtown Charleston, summons both attorneys forward.
The judge tells Jamie: "Now I don't know how they run their courtrooms up in Chicargo or New York, but down here, we don't allow our attorneys to play Perry Mason."
Then the judge tells Roy: "Kinda looks like she's got you bent over a stump with your pants down, son."
And it kinda looks like "Reckless," which returns for Episode 2 Sunday night at 9 on WCSC, is worthless.
Or maybe not. After all, it is a reminder that TV shows set in Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta, Port Charles, Genoa City or anywhere else often don't fairly represent those places.
OK, so Port Charles, the upstate New York setting of "General Hospital," and Genoa City, the Wisconsin setting of "The Young and the Restless," aren't real places.
Neither is the insulting version of "Charleston" on the ridiculous "Reckless."
Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is email@example.com.