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12 lavish TV apartments the show’s characters could never afford

What we see on television isn’t real, whether it’s sitcoms that purport to portray a typical American family or so-called “reality TV.” The luxurious homes characters are supposedly able to afford are among the top culprits that can make it especially hard to suspend our disbelief.

Obviously, show creators take some creative license with these dwellings, as a beautiful, spacious home is much nicer to look at than a tiny, ugly one — and the former offers more room for cameras. Nonetheless, some fictional residences push our imaginations to the limit. Here are 12 reality-defying residences that make it hard to play along.


The show’s story suggests that the massive apartment Monica (Courtney Cox) lives in was actually leased by her grandmother, and therefore, rent controlled. When her grandmother retired to Florida, Monica was able to stay there as a tenant, eventually (and illegally) subletting it to Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow), then Rachel (Jennifer Aniston). Rent control aside, the apartment is in the heart of Manhattan and has been estimated to cost about $4,500 each month in rent if it actually existed, making the situation pretty tough to believe.

‘New Girl’

Set in Los Angeles, viewers were to believe that three young men could afford the show’s massive, four-bedroom loft. Coach (Damon Wayans Jr.) is a personal trainer (later replaced by unemployed, failed basketball player Winston, played by Lamorne Morris), Nick (Jake Johnson) is a bartender, and Schmidt (Max Greenfield) is a marketing executive. It’s unlikely they could make enough to afford rent even after bringing on series star Jess (Zooey Deschanel), a teacher, as the fourth roommate. The place had rooftop access, a glorious kitchen, spacious bedrooms, laundry area, and a bathroom that resembles a locker room, with stalls and even a urinal. Realistically, a one-bedroom Binford Loft in the L.A. arts district would cost about $3,000 monthly in rent, so a four-bedroom loft would be astronomically higher.

‘How I Met Your Mother’

How I Met Your Mother

The two-bedroom Upper West Side apartment where Ted (Josh Radnor) lives was once shared with Marshall (Jason Segel), and would have likely cost about $3,000 each month in rent. Ted begins the show as an architect, and later a university professor, while Marshall was putting himself through law school, so it would have been a stretch for them to afford such digs. And let’s not forget the convenient MacLaren’s Pub located right below the building, and the subway access right across the street.

‘Sex and the City’

Sex and the City

Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) was a successful magazine columnist in New York. But even so, would she really have been able to afford that incredible Upper East Side apartment, while still shopping frequently for designer fashion? Estimated to be a $3,000 per month apartment, her ability to live there was another example explained away by rent control. Even more unbelievable, however, is the penthouse apartment she eventually lives in with Mr. Big (Chris Noth). Would his executive-level finance job (what did he do, anyway?) have provided for that residence with the dream closet that would run anywhere from $40 to $50 million at minimum or $190,000 per month in rent?

‘2 Broke Girls’

The title says it all: How on Earth are we to believe that two cash-starved waitresses live in a massive apartment in the gentrified area of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, complete with exposed brick and hardwood floors? Beyond the affordability conundrum, how exactly does this “apartment” have a yard that can accommodate a horse? The average price of a studio apartment in Williamsburg is about $2,700 per month, which means it’s highly unlikely two waitresses would be living in such luxury unless they were pocketing record-breaking tips. And they certainly wouldn’t be able to afford a horse.

‘Master of None’

Dev (Aziz Ansari) is navigating life as a single millennial and struggling actor in New York. While he gets the odd job here and there, he’s mostly living off residuals from a few commercials, including a highly successful one for Go-Gurt. This is how he affords a spacious apartment in Williamsburg, we’re told, which would likely cost about $2,500 per month in rent. Maybe those commercials get plenty of airtime, providing Dev with massive checks to cover his rent, but it still seems implausible that a struggling actor who’s only been in a few commercials could afford such accommodations.

‘Big Bang Theory’

Big Bang Theory

We understand how Sheldon (Jim Parsons) and Leonard (Johnny Galecki), physicists at Caltech, might be able to afford their spacious two-bedroom apartment in Pasadena. But how did Penny (Kaley Cuoco), an aspiring actress and waitress at The Cheesecake Factory, manage to snag the one-bedroom place next door, estimated to cost around $1,200 monthly in rent? The building is obviously not perfectly maintained (it has never had a working elevator), but it’s still difficult to believe that a small-town gal would have saved up enough money to secure rent, even when mooching off her neighbors for internet and food.

‘Happy Endings’

Happy Endings

It’s laughable to think that Max (Adam Pally), who was lazy and perpetually unemployed, and Dave (Zachary Knighton), a newly self-employed food truck owner, would have been able to afford a massive loft in the trendy, gentrified Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago. What’s more, it looked like it was at one point a warehouse facility, not a home, making it all the more unbelievable that it could be in their price range.

‘Orphan Black’

Orphan Black

Massive square footage? Check. Exposed brick walls complete with graffiti? Check. Posh furniture that looks like it’s straight from a catalog? Check. Felix (Jordan Gavaris) is a young, troubled artist who works as a male escort to make rent when needed, we’re led to believe. He and his foster sister Sarah (Tatiana Maslany) also engage in illegal activities to pull in extra money, which might help as well. There’s no doubt the pad is the perfect place for him to get his creative juices flowing (and keep him protected should trouble coming knocking), but could he really afford it? Unless he was charging top dollar for his escort services, we think not.

‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

It’s not so much that the apartment Kimmy (Ellie Kemper) moves into with Titus Andromedon (Tituss Burgess) in this four-season series is lavish. It’s ragged and run-down, clearly violating a number of health codes, and located in a rough part of Brooklyn. Her “room” is nothing more than an oversized closet and the shower is in the kitchen, and the fictional rent is about $475 per month, based on Titus mentioning he owed two months back rent of $950. That last part alone is what makes this one hard to believe. In reality, that one-bedroom apartment, as terrible as it is, would probably cost about $3,250 monthly. After living in an underground bunker for years, though, Kimmy deserved a break.


Even as a renowned psychologist with a popular radio show, Frasier (Kelsey Grammer) would have to earn serious dough to afford his lavish penthouse apartment. It had a gorgeous, unobstructed view of the Seattle skyline and the Space Needle. That means it would typically be the home of a millionaire mogul of some sort. While it would have been much more affordable in the ’90s, a similar 5,700-square-foot, three-bedroom, four-bathroom penthouse in the area today would cost more than $13 million.


The Greenpoint, Brooklyn, apartment occupied by Hannah (Lena Dunham) and Marnie (Allison Williams) is small and quaint, but certainly not the shoebox-sized dwelling you’d expect most New York-based 20-somethings to live in. It must have been the thing of dreams for these two girls, but based on the supposed location, it would likely have cost about $3,000 per month in rent — hardly something they could afford without full-time jobs. Even once Hannah began working as a barista for steady cash and Marnie as an assistant in an art gallery, it’s hardly plausible they would have been able to keep up with the rent.

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Christine Persaud
Christine is a professional editor and writer with 18 years of experience in trade and consumer journalism. While she started…
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