Tha's some serious rent control
More often than not, the setting of a hit TV show becomes just as famous and beloved as the cast of characters themselves. The setting can either add a sense of reality or otherwise transport viewers into new fantasies.
The famous filming locations of various TV shows that used exteriors or real sites outside of Hollywood sound studios often become major tourist attractions, and TV homes and apartments can gain millions of dollars in worth thanks to fan followings alone.
But in reality, many of the most recognizable settings from our favorite TV shows are pure fiction: Whether the floor plans simply don’t match the exterior or we know that the character could never afford to live there, sets are designed for filming ease or for the sake of a live audience, not for realism.
Anybody who’s ever lived in New York will know straightaway that one of the biggest errors TV shows set in the city make is having characters live in enormous apartments that simply don’t exist below a multimillion-dollar price range. Given the usual blue- or occasionally white-collar jobs of the characters, we know that paying those rents simply isn’t possible.
Case in point? Friends.
Welcome to the Neighborhood
Like many shows set in NYC, exterior shots and stock images are meant to give viewers a picturesque idea of New York, often including shots of famous monuments and buildings like Washington Square Park or the Chrysler Building.
The friends live in the enviable West Village, one of the more romantic and architecturally rich neighborhoods of New York. And we know all too well that their apartments—especially Monica and Rachel’s—are surprisingly spacious and filled with character.
But how realistic is that? Unsurprisingly, not at all.
Throughout the series, Monica and Rachel share a charming, spacious two-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment with an enormous open kitchen and living room, and—of course—that giant window.
Joey and Chandler lived right across the hall in a notably smaller two-bedroom, one-bathroom that looked much more like a real New York apartment.
But now let’s remember: Monica works intermittently as a chef for the majority of the series, whereas Rachel starts out as a waitress before moving to Bloomingdales and finally Ralph Lauren as a buyer. Are those salaries enough to afford that kind of apartment?
In reality, the building pictured in exterior shots of the Friends apartment is 90 Bedford Street. Of course, the interior set is fictional, but according to the New York Post, the last apartment on the market was a one-bedroom, one-bathroom that went for $2,950 a month. Still, estimates for an apartment like Monica and Rachel’s in that building put the rent at around $4,500/month today. Chandler and Joey’s would probably go for somewhere in the $3,000s/month range.
So how did they manage to afford that? Keep reading!