An artist recently created meticulous floorplans of his favourite TV characters' flats, which got our columnist Daisy Stella Baldwin thinking, Carrie Bradshaw style: are sitcom creatives' homes out of reach for real-life artists?
Artist Iñaki Aliste Lizarralde has created a series of detailed floorplans of the living spaces that hold perhaps the biggest place in our collective imagination: the sets of TV sitcoms, including Friends, The Big Bang Theory and Sex and the City.
Not that I needed them: I could already find my way blindfolded toward Carrie’s writing desk, through the ridiculously large walk-in-wardrobe and into the seldom-seen kitchen containing the oven where she stores shoes. Not bad for a weekly newspaper columnist who must spend the majority of her pay cheque on clothes and cosmopolitans!
TV sitcoms, especially US ones with large studio audiences, are well known to stretch the truth with the size of their characters’ apartments. There’s Carrie of course, in her New York brownstone; Rachel, who works as a waitress and later at an entry-level job in fashion, yet manages to pay half the rent for the spacious loft apartment detailed by Lizarralde in all it’s palatial glory; and don’t even get me started on Penny from The Big Bang Theory – a waitress and mostly resting actress who apparently affords a huge and stylish one-bedroom flat all to herself.
All these shows give the occasional nod to realism. We are told that Rachel and Monica’s apartment, like Carrie’s, is a “steal” because of New York City rent control, and in any case, illegally sublet from Monica’s grandmother. Meanwhile, Penny borrows money from Sheldon to make her rent and frequently lets Leonard pay for her food (not a sterling feminist role model). But despite these occasional references to their financial situations, as viewers we are still being constantly exposed to young people working in the arts and living way beyond their means.
Even so, it’s not the inflated salaries and living arrangements of our onscreen counterparts that bother me, so much as the unrealistic lifestyles they portray. No one living on the Upper East Side would make a living purely from being a newspaper columnist (thrilled as I am to be the new IdeasMag correspondent I won’t be swaggering on over to Kensington and Chelsea anytime soon).
Frankly, no one living anywhere could make it purely on a weekly column in a non-national paper. In reality Carrie would need multiple sources of income, a second or even third job. As for Penny, when the occasional dream acting role did turn up, she’d have to weigh up the risk of quitting her day job to take it, knowing that The Cheesecake Factory might not have her back afterward. And Rachel, with her entry-level job in fashion… What entry-level job in fashion? In real life Rachel would be stuck in the cycle of unpaid internships, probably living off Daddy’s credit cards for a good while longer.
And for the most part I don’t mind; there’s a healthy place for escapism over realism, so long as it doesn’t distort our perception of our own lives. So consider this a reality check in lieu of a cheque: if you are staying on top of the bills and managing to carve out any time at all to work on your passion, let alone being paid for it, then order up a cosmopolitan and savour the moment – you are a true star!
... on creating characters
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