Television isn’t known for treating viewers to reality. Even “reality” TV is far from what fans experience in the real world: Not everyone can sit around, look fabulous, and get paid like the Kardashians. And though some shows “get it” (we see you Atlanta, Malcolm in the Middle, and Broad City), fictional television tends to be regularly outrageous in the living department: Many characters live lavishly in amazing homes with a pretty standard income. You’re a columnist but are able to live alone in Greenwich Village and afford a monthly dose of Manolos? Only on the small screen. Inspired (and slightly outraged), I’m going to shine a light on the some less obvious examples—beyond Carrie Bradshaw (if we’re being real, she’d be living with at least one roommate in Brooklyn today!)—that tried to make us believe some pretty unbelievable things.
(Image credit: Adam Taylor/FOX)
New Girl‘s Nick Miller is a nearly 30-something with a group of roommates… but his initial line of work does not match up to his living arrangement. There are times when everyone’s ability to pay the rent in that loft is questionable but Nick Miller, Nick Miller from the streets of Chicago is the most consistent. A bartender in L.A. does probably need roommates, but he does not live in an amazing loft downtown—no matter how much his marketing exec BFF is subsidizing his pay. Apartments like that would go for nearly $7,500 a month—or at least $1,500 a person, depending on the season. In reality, Nick Miller would takes his tips back to the pits of the Valley to a dingy apartment that he shared with four other guys—an array of struggling actors, comics, models, influencers, or…all of the above.
(Image credit: Saeed Adyani/Netflix)
There is not a ’90s kid alive that did not dream of living in the Tanner’s Full House. Most of that had to do with being able to stare at Uncle Jesse all day, but some of it was that glorious house. It had that classic San Francisco look, was near a park, and offered Golden Gate Bridge views. Back in the day, Danny Tanner’s TV-anchor salary might have been able to buy that house. Which is why DJ, her kids, sister, best friend, and bestie’s kid live under that roof today on Fuller House. But had she not inherited that home, there is no way—even with the help of her sister and BFF—that she could afford the nearly $3,000,000 price tag! Recent reports say that people in San Francisco who make under $117,000 are considered low income because of the cost of housing there. DJ is a vet and if she was making below the average $120,000, that’d mean she and her tribe would have to relocate. (Which is actually something many longterm San Francisco renters have had to do!)
(Image credit: Everett Collection)
Stu and Didi Pickles
One cannot rule out cartoons. Sometimes even drawn characters live a little too large for their day jobs. For example, the Pickles from Rugrats. Tommy was cool and all—but he was a baby! Babies don’t bring home a thing unless they are signed to Gerber or Huggies. With Tommy being on neither of their payrolls, he was reliant on his parents—a substitute teacher and a toy inventor. While they both seemingly worked part-time, their house was in a great part of town. If you don’t remember, they lived in the same neighborhood as Susie Carmichael whose mother was a doctor. The Part-Time Pickles lived on the same block as a doctor. Say. What?
Speaking of odd neighbors, we have to talk about Penny from The Big Bang Theory. When we first met her, she was a Cheesecake Factory waitress doubling as a barely working actress. Right across the hall from her was a pair of Cal Tech physicists. Unless Penny made a killing in tips, there is no way she’d be able to make rent! Rent in Pasadena for an apartment like that would run her at least $1,800 a month. For a show seemingly based on science, this housing-situation is missing something in the equation!
(Image credit: Columbia Pictures)
Today, fans of Ed O’Neill watch him gallivant around his modernist mansion as the patriarch of the Pritchett family on Modern Family. His house on that show is impressive, but when he was playing Al Bundy on Married… with Children, his house was well, less-impressive. Nonetheless, I’ve never wrapped my head around how he could also afford his still very nice, though modest, home and take care of his (unhelpful!) family as a shoe salesman at a store that never seemed busy. The real home in Deerfield, Illinois, costs $500K today, or around $202K in 1987 dollars—when the show started. If you don’t remember, mortgage rates in the 1980s were high—around 9 percent, so the Bundys had to pay around $1,625 a month on one income! To this day, how they cut that check is one of life’s greatest mysteries.
Known for hipsters, trust-fund millennials, and artsy folks gentrifying the hell out of it, Brooklyn has quickly become one of the most expensive areas. Even the worst apartments will cost you an arm, leg, kidney… and maybe your firstborn. Which is exactly why it was bothersome to see Max’s place on 2 Broke Girls. Even before she took in Caroline (and that second waitress income), she was living in a pretty large—for New York City—apartment on her own. Rental prices in Williamsburg, where the show is set, are not pretty. In fact, the average one-bedroom rents for almost $3,000 a month. Yes, the show is called 2 Broke Girls, but a “broke” person wouldn’t even get approved to live there without a parental line of credit—which she did. not. have! Michael Patrick King! Learn your lesson! There is no way a waitress at a Brooklyn diner could afford such a place without a full-blown miracle.