Big City Problems: Worst New York City TV Cliches


New York City, America’s biggest metropolis, has been the setting of  numerous TV shows. It’s “The City that Never Sleeps,” making it an endless source for all sorts of storylines for shows like Sex and the City, Friends, and Law & Order. As compelling or hilarious as some of our favorite shows set in New York are, few of them ever get the details right. Here are a just a few of the repeat violations viewers will find in shows set in the Big Apple.

Big Apartments

Anyone south of being a millionaire knows those sprawling apartments seen in shows like Seinfeld and How I Met Your Mother know not only that these apartments are beyond what anyone earning a living wage can afford, they basically don’t exist. Even the bohemian apartments found in HBO’s Girls is still larger than your average Brooklyn apartment.

Lack of Diversity

In general, television poorly represents the diversity found in America, but it pales to the egregious misrepresentation of New York. Less than half of the New York population is white, but numerous TV shows display groups of five or six white people hanging out in a cafe or bar. On the flipside, shows that represent the City’s racial diversity on focus on that specific demographic, like The Cosby Show.

People Don’t Work

Not only do the characters on TV have impossibly huge apartments, they can somehow afford it without actually working (Rachel can afford to split a Greenwich Village apartment on a coffee shop waitress’s salary? HA!) In a city where the proverbial “rat race” is more than real, people spend more than a third of their day working. That also doesn’t even factor into the daily grind of fighting other people in the streets and in the subway. Which also lead right into…

People Take Taxis Everywhere

On average, nearly 5 million people take the New York City Subway. On TV, a cab ride is how everyone gets from point A to point B, even to places like Bushwick. It is a bit ironic, since some of the most interesting people and things in New York are found underground. And remarkably, taxis never come across Midtown traffic or the countless jaywalking pedestrians. That is, of course, unless the plot warrants it.

People Tawk Wit a New Yawk Accent

Walking around the streets of New York, you’ll hardly find a person who speaks with the classic New York accent you hear on television. Perhaps, you’ll come across a hot dog vendor with that accent, who is probably exaggerating it for the tourists. Only the New York City wannabes from New Jersey regularly “tawk” with that accent.

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