Have you been watching New Girl? It's a pretty good show. They're funny -- especially Schmidt. She's adorkable. The unresolved sexual tension thing is not bad.
My one knock is this; where the hell are those perky hipsters supposed to be living? Not what city -- although that's an unsolved mystery in its own right (it looks like LA, but I'm convinced they're pretending its Chicago). More specifically, however, what is with that apartment? It's enormous. Even for TV, it's cavernous... four bedrooms and an industrial bathroom, replete with lockers. Obviously, it's meant to be a loft, like this one in Los Angeles. But the 3-bedroom, 1,200 square foot loft listed at that site goes for $3,000 per month. Jess and her roomies have more than twice that much space (in the bathroom alone), a huge terrace, amazing sunlight, roof access and FOUR bedrooms. FOUR.
Let's say Jess' fictional, 2800 sq ft, four-bedroom loft, with tons of sunlight and a terrace, would translate to $4,600 in the real world ($5,000 in Silver Lake, which is undoubtedly where this show wants to be set). Under this assumption, their rent is $55,200-$60,000 per year, before groceries and utilities. Jess is a teacher, and a relatively new one. Nick (her will-they-won't-they partner) is a bartender. True, he wouldn't pay taxes since he earns mostly tips (shh... don't tell the sitcom IRS), but how much can he possibly make? Winston doesn't have a job. It's doubtful he collects unemployment, since his last real job was playing basketball in Latvia. And while Schmidt has some sort of corporate job, he appears to be a glorified gofer. Beyond the question as to whether or not they could find such an apartment (no way), the bigger query is to how the hell they would afford it!?!
This got me thinking... Much is made of the unrealistic body image expectations created by the media. However, much less attention has been given to unrealistic real estate expectations. Unsuspecting young people across the nation turn to TV for a window on the world, unaware of the cruel and inaccurate portrayal of TV rentals and condos. This has left many viewers disillusioned when it comes to moving out of their parents' attic and renting their own place in the real world (and not on The Real World). The Housing TV Bubble does not leave mortgage defaults, but it creates broken dreams.
To cast a spotlight on this issue, I've created a list of the Top 11 Most Outrageous Real Estate Deals in TV History:
- Monica's Apartment on Friends. At the start of the series, Monica is a moderately unsuccessful chef and Rachel serves coffee. Yet, they have 1,200 square feet and a terrace, in the heart of the Village! True, it's a walk up, but... my first apartment in New York could have fit into their bathroom. According to the interwebs, Monica scammed the apartment in an illegal sublet from her grandma. I might believe that, if even once Monica had to pretend the old lady lived with them. Otherwise, that place would be occupied by an investment banker.
- The Humphreys' Place on Gossip Girl. Aren't the Humphreys the 'poor people' on the show? (Before Rufus marries Lily.) Rufus is an ex-musician and current gallery owner, and a single dad, mind you, with two kids in private school in Manhattan. Yet his loft, in Williamsburg (or is it Dumbo?) is bigger than both apartments on New Girl and Friends, combined. That's a LOT of art to sell.
- The Entire Gilligan's Island. One, those huts are larger than many American single family homes -- I think Lovey Howell had a walk-in closet. Two, where's the outhouse? Three, why do Gilligan and Skipper have to share a place, while the Professor gets his own sweet love shack? Last, with a car, a theater, a private lagoon and beachfront property like that, why the hell were they trying so hard to leave? On the other hand, the obvious question is; if they had the engineering acumen to build all that...
- Hogan's Heroes POW Camp. Once called one of the worst five TV shows of all time, it's the only filmed content ever to make a POW camp look like a Rat Pack Casino. Stalag 13 was like a Third Reich Club Med, with a series of tunnels that allowed Hogan's Eleven to gallivant around Europe like some sort of Roger Moore/F. Scott Fitzgerald hybrid. While they did have to sleep eight to a room, Barracks 2 came with secret compartments, a periscope sink and a seemingly constant poker game. Meanwhile, Hogan used Klink's office, liquor cabinet and able-bodied assistant as his own (on screen and off). Fitting that the last episode doesn't end the war -- as sweet as he had it, Hogan didn't want it to end.
- Star Trek. Granted, you need a lot of space when you go on a five-year mission. But seriously, in each version of Trek, The Enterprise literally had no end. My problem, however, is not the limitless space, or the teeny-tiny hospital which needed to serve hundreds of crew, or the total lack of signage (how the hell can they tell one hallway from the other?). No, my biggest issue with the Enterprise is the Holodeck (Star Trek: The Next Generation). Are we to believe that in the future, The Federation allows their service people to have a device that satisfies ANY possible fantasy? And, if they did, do we really believe there wouldn't be a constant and endless line of lonely crew members looking to, uh... use it? How would anything get done? If I was Wesley Crusher, I would have LIVED in the Holodeck.
- The Love Boat. Have you ever been on a cruise? On a real cruise ship, when you're in your cabin, you have to go into the hall to bend over. In the cabins on the Pacific Princess, you could play a three-on-three game of ultimate Frisbee. The better to fit all those Charo outfits in.
- The Brady Bunch House. My issue here isn't size. Mike's an architect and pulls in a nice living. So I have no doubt he can afford that place. My issue is, with ALL that space, they really made the kids sleep three to a room? Again, he's AN ARCHITECT! It took them 93 episodes to figure out that the attic is usable space?
- Batman (TV Series). One question: What the hell was happening on those Bat Poles? They hopped on fully clothed and came out the other side in tights. Just sayin'.
- Nikita's Living Arrangements. This woman is supposedly hiding from a powerful spy agency, with tentacles in every corner of the world. Yet, in each episode, she finds some secluded hideaway, sometimes fully-furnished, always epic in size, without a credit application, co-op board interview or trip to Ikea with Michael. With all that shooting, there's NO WAY she's going to get her security deposit back.
- Cartman's House on South Park. Is it just me, or do the Cartmans have an awful lot of space for two people and a cat? That's a pretty big house they have there. Cartman's mom may be a slut, but how can she afford the mortgage and taxes on that place? Plus, with a separate garage, who shovels that driveway?
- Multi-Camera Sitcoms. There must be a template somewhere, created by TV architects (maybe Mike Brady?), which seemingly all sitcom homes must follow. They almost always have one great room in an 'open-plan' design, where the front door opens into the room and the living and dining rooms coincide. They never have a bathroom on the first floor -- or, if there is, no one EVER uses it. The Huxtables had tons of space, but seriously, ask yourself: where the heck did Dr. Huxtable poop? Clearly TV zoning only allows for slight variances to this design (The Middle and Raising Hope live in the simpler ranch version). But just once, in between pat punch lines, I'd like to hear a flush.
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