Television has provided unrealistic standards of life’s many truths for as long as it’s existed — from being able to hang out in a coffee shop during the work day to going on thousands of dates in a single year. But one of the most bothersome standards TV has warped audiences into thinking is what kind of apartment New Yorkers today can realistically afford.
Millions of residents live in the five boroughs, and more people move there every day with dreams of getting a 212 area code and a mailing address in the big city. If only they knew what they were actually in for. The 15 TV characters ranked below lease or own apartments that have become characters in and of themselves, leading New York natives and newbies alike to think they can afford an apartment like Monica Geller’s from “Friends” or Hannah Horvath’s from “Girls.” So, exactly how fictional are these fictional TV apartments?
TheWrap has ranked the most realistic contemporary TV apartments to the least realistic apartments, featuring favorites like billionaire Logan Roy’s penthouse abode in “Succession” to TV writer and producer Liz Lemon’s digs in “30 Rock.”
15. Logan Roy, “Succession”
As the most realistic apartment on the list, Logan Roy’s (Brian Cox) is also the most extravagant and ostentatious. Of course, the Roy family is not your typical family. They’re regularly shown taking helicopters or private jets to their various homes around the world, including Season 3’s Italian villa. The Roys simply exude wealth. Therefore, the patriarch’s main home, a luxurious Manhattan penthouse, is the most realistic home based strictly on who Logan is. As a billionaire media mogul, having a $23 million Manhattan penthouse is just a rite of passage.
14. Ilana Wexler, “Broad City”
Contrary to what her co-workers might think, Ilana Wexler (Ilana Glazer) does technically work. Picking up a paycheck from various odd jobs and side gigs – be that it babysitting gigs, a Deals! sales associate or cleaning strangers’ homes – Ilana does live within her means. A Gowanus, Brooklyn, resident with a roommate, Ilana lives in one of the most reasonable units on this list. It’s a bit cramped, slightly messy and there’s limited space for more than two people in the living room.
13. Charlotte York, “Sex and the City”
Charlotte York’s (Kristin Davis) apartment is realistic by New York standards because, well, she won it in her divorce. The Park Avenue penthouse has become a staple in the “Sex and the City” world, and it’s thanks to Charlotte’s Season 3 arc where the former art gallery curator married and divorced the old-moneyed cardiologist Trey MacDougal (Kyle MacLachlan). Trey gifts Charlotte the apartment after their divorce since he was unable to give her the family she’s always “dreamed of.” Charlotte makes the apartment her home throughout the series, the films and the “And Just Like That…” reboot.
12. Will Truman, “Will & Grace”
Will Truman (Eric McCormack) is a corporate lawyer who lives on the Upper West Side. His home because the main locale for he and his friends — Grace Adler (Debra Messing), Jack McFarland (Sean Hayes) and Karen Walker (Megan Mullaly) — to come for breakfast, a night in or even a prolonged stay. Will’s two-bedroom apartment is one of the more lavish apartments on this list, but it still remains realistic for the era, location and character’s profession.
11. Don Draper, “Mad Men”
Formerly a father living in the suburbs, Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and his new wife Megan (Jessica Paré) move to an apartment on Park Avenue in New York City. As an advertising Creative Director and Junior Partner of Sterling Cooper & Partners, Don could shell out a few more dollars on a beautiful Manhattan apartment, but since the show’s conclusion, NYC real estate agents have revealed Don really couldn’t live in the magnificent mid-century apartment today.
10. The Humphrey Family, “Gossip Girl”
“Gossip Girl” may be a New York–set series that mostly takes place on the Upper East Side, but it detoured to Brooklyn with the Humphrey family. Located in Brooklyn’s DUMBO neighborhood, Dan’s (Penn Badgley) family loft requires a slight stretching of the imagination. Dan and Jenny (Taylor Momsen) reside in the three-bedroom unit with their father Rufus (Matthew Settle), a former musician and current gallery owner. While the spacious apartment wasn’t as luxurious as Serena van der Woodsen’s (Blake Lively) or Blair Waldorf’s (Leighton Meester) on the Upper East Side, its location and size did leave some viewers wondering if a divorced dad could afford it while taking care of two teenagers. But the Humphreys’ home mostly did make sense, given the success of their father’s former and present careers.
9. Liz Lemon, “30 Rock”
As a former writer for “Saturday Night Live,” Tina Fey brought some realism to “30 Rock” and her character Liz Lemon. While the entertainment industry sitcom rolls out some of the most outrageous plot lines, Liz’s apartment is one of the few elements that teeters on the edge of realism. Like many of the characters on this list, she lives on the Upper West Side, providing a realistic neighborhood for the comedy writer. But when Season 4 features Liz buying the unit above to her current place, that’s when the line of the character’s finances becomes a bit blurry.
8. Jerry, “Seinfeld”
Jerry’s apartment in “Seinfeld” also teeters on the edge of realism. As a successful stand-up comedian, the reality of Jerry Seinfeld’s life behind the camera seemed to slip into the fictional world of “Seinfeld.” The character isn’t quite starving-artist material, but even as a semi-famous comedian on-the-rise, performers at that level typically live in quainter spaces before making it big. Then again, if Kramer could live there, Jerry could definitely swing it.
7. Mindy Lahiri, “The Mindy Project”
New York City OB-GYN Mindy Lahiri (Mindy Kaling) lived in one of the most colorful sitcom apartments in television history. And as colorful as Mindy’s apartment was matches its lack of realism. The one-bedroom apartment in a Manhattan Brownstone has both a walk-in closet and a staircase that leads to another unit. Kaling knowingly created an unrealistic “bachelorette pad,” and provides cheeky quips about the unreasonable NYC housing market early on in the series. By further introducing the apartments of other characters, including Danny Castellano (Chris Messina) and Jody Kimball-Kinney (Garret Dillahunt), the rom-com sitcom provides a picture-perfect world of expansive and well-decorated lower-Manhattan homes.
6. Oliver Putnam, “Only Murders in the Building”
Yes, rent-controlled apartments are the caveat to some of these units, but Oliver Putnam (Martin Short) seems unable to make his monthly payments at the Arconia. The amateur detective (and “retired” theater director) has lived on the Upper West Side for decades; however, he’s positioned himself as a bit of a late-stage struggling artist. The theater director has failed to helm a successful production, despite repeatedly receiving investments from his neighbors, including Teddy Dimas (Nathan Lane). While Charles-Haden Savage (Steve Martin) starred on a successful network TV show and Mabel Mora (Selena Gomez) resides in her late Aunt’s home, Oliver’s place in the Arconia is constantly put up for questioning — even facilitating a possible criminal motive in Season 2.
5. Ted Mosby, “How I Met Your Mother”
Ted Mosby (Josh Randor) is an architect-turned-professor who lives on the Upper West Side for the duration of the “How I Met Your Mother” series run. Ted’s apartment has a rotating door, with the main characters, Marshall Eriksen (Jason Segel), Lily Aldrin (Alyson Hannigan), and Robin Scherbatsky (Cobie Smulders) consistently occupying the two-bedroom unit. With roommates, Ted could possibly swing the rent, but given his roommates’ rocky employment histories, it doesn’t seem as likely. Ted’s apartment was large enough to house a telephone booth, entertain a fencing duel and to host many, many parties. “How I Met Your Mother” fueled young 20-somethings moving to the big city with very unrealistic expectations for what their first apartment might look like — but the latest spin-off “How I Met Your Father” definitely nails the realistic aspect of NYC living.
4. Carrie Bradshaw, “Sex and the City”
Fans and savvy NYC residents have long refuted the plausibility of Carrie Bradshaw’s (Sarah Jessica Parker) Upper East Side apartment. As one of the only characters to actually name the price of her rent (around $700), it’s extremely unlikely she’d have found a space to live alone in that neighborhood for that price, even when considering rent-controlled opportunities.
3. Hannah Horvath “Girls”
Venturing back to Brooklyn, Hannah Horvath’s (Lena Dunham) two-bedroom apartment in Greenpoint, which she shares with Marnie Michaels (Allison Williams), stands as another writer living in a completely unrealistic apartment given the location, era and character. Hannah is very open about her finances and is willing to admit when she hits financial struggles – which makes Hannah’s fictional Brooklyn fantasy utopia is just that: a fantasy. Contradicting the fantasy of Hannah and Marnie’s shared apartment, Marnie’s Chinatown “s–tbox” studio poses as the most realistic home on the HBO series.
2. Monica Geller “Friends”
Yes, technically, Monica Geller (Courtney Cox) from “Friends” inherited her iconic, rent-controlled apartment from her grandmother – but even so, the unit stands as one of the most famous unrealistic homes across film and TV. Monica was a line cook, then unemployed, then founder of a short-lived catering company, and eventually a chef. But she still managed to live comfortably in a massive NYC apartment in a trendy downtown neighborhood. The Greenwich Village space boasts two large bedrooms and a huge living room and joint kitchen; who watched “Friends” and didn’t dream of jumping onto Monica’s lease?
1. Elliott Goss, “Search Party”
Although the cult-comedy “Search Party” is a satire, the absurdity of the show doesn’t stop with the characters or the storylines and of course extends into the main characters’ homes. More specifically, unemployed scam artist Elliott Goss (John Early) who lives in Brooklyn near his old college friends Dory Sief (Alia Shawkat), Portia Davenport (Meredith Hagner) and Drew Gardner (John Reynolds). Even while professing that he “doesn’t enjoy working,” Elliott has a number of on-again, off-again jobs through the series’ five seasons. He begins “Search Party” as the founder of a charity called Water Bottles for Africa, then he receives a book deal, then he becomes a right-wing news pundit – but he’s never able to stay with this gigs and actually build a career. Therefore, spending frivolously with no consistent paychecks and living in an enormous Brooklyn apartment with a staircase and enough room for Portia, Drew or Dory to stay over as-needed is one of the least plausible housing scenarios in television today.