My favourite thing about television is that it’s so full of rich culture and traditions. Traditions like: Customers going to a bar, ordering a ‘beer’ and not specifying which one they’d like. People in non-English speaking countries speaking English together, and the fact that the Eiffel Tower can be seen from every window in Paris.
But there’s one rich tradition that has truly woven itself into the complex tapestry of television history: People with low incomes living in fancy, expensive places.
Friends, Girls, Sex and the City, Eric’s Time, Ambrosia?, Search Party. Some of those are made up but you get the point. TV loves to put people who have jobs that everyday folk can relate to in fancy houses in fancy areas of town. It’s either that or we watch Rachel and Monica get a two-hour train into Manhattan every episode. Although maybe that would be a little more captivating than them just sitting in Central bloody Perk day after day.
The first show that comes to mind when I think about people off the telly living in fancier-than-their-income-allows accommodation is New Girl. This is an interesting thing I read once, actually; Did you know that nobody has ever actually ever seen an episode of New Girl with both feet on the ground? It’s a plane show. It was created by airlines, for airlines. Back in 1962, Pan American World Airways created New Girl and they’ve just been Skins-ing the cast ever since.
It’s a great business model. You get on a plane, you watch two films, then you look at the little map and realise you’re over Dublin and you’re going to land in half an hour. What are you supposed to do? Not have anything playing in your headphones? Have you tried listening to plane silence? Do you know what the official term for aviatic ambient noise is? Farts. It’s farts.
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With thirty minutes to go on your flight, you decide to chuck on an episode of something. For some reason, the only choices are Ice Road Truckers, a Documentary about where your plane has been to before, something about remodelling your home, and New Girl Season 5 Episode 18. Also, why do they put on an arbitrary instalment from the middle of a random season? Give us Season 1, Episode 1 if you’re going to insist we bloody watch this.
Planefinder.net says that there are currently 11,591 flights in the air right now. 11,589 of those have got New Girl on. The other two don’t because they’re hot air balloons.
Zooey Deschanel and her mates all have very normal jobs but live in what I think is the ‘staff relaxation room’ of the Google headquarters.
There’s a reason for this: The quality of aerial TV screens is so terrible that the makers of New Girl think we won’t notice the gap between income and dwelling size. Well, you know what, a couple of us caught you on the telly the other day so now we all know what you did.
Search Party is rightly praised due to its accurate portrayal of young people who have recently reached adulthood and for creating a brand new genre: The Noir Sitcom. But, it’s rightly condemned due to the stone cold New Girl-ing. The main character; Dory, is occasionally a Personal Assistant who lives with her boyfriend, Drew, who’s an intern. They live in a lovely, spacious flat in Brooklyn with all the exposed brick you could ever ask for.
They don’t mention how they afford it. We assume it’s just ‘their parents helped them’. Which is 2017 Television’s version of ‘Friends Rent Control’.
Rent Control acts as a price ceiling which prevents rents from ever going above a certain amount, or from increasing at a rate higher than a predetermined percentage. So some people are living in a great area at a great 1980’s price of $400 a month whilst the people across the road could be paying $4000 for near enough the same apartment. Also, it’s a great way of explaining how a waitress and a sous chef live in a BLOODY PALACE.
We in the U.K once had rent control on all private property from 1915 to 1980. Then the Tories got rid of it and gave all the power to the landlords. All regulation was stripped and landlords were given something called ‘freedom of contract’ which sounds a lot like ‘do what you like’.
Also, we had a landlord at University who would just turn up unannounced with his sister in the middle of the night and drop a couple of ‘contract freedoms’ in the upstairs toilet if you know what I mean?
Deceptive rental agreements are not the only thing we’ve been lied to about. Another rarely spoken of but often wondered about issue is: Why are we being fed nonsense about the layout of that giant house?
Full disclosure: I lured you here just to air a grievance about what is probably one of the most important parts of early 2000’s culture:
So it’s not the size of the house that bothers me here. Or the financial background of the characters. The Cohen’s were raking it in. How could they not be? Kirsten and Caleb ran The Newport Group…into the ground! Nah, they didn’t. They did a great job. Until they started that magazine where they put Julie Cooper-Nichol on the front cover every issue. Then they weren’t doing a great job. They were doing a REALLY great job!
The Cohens live in a great, big house which is right on the beach in the first episode but then all of a sudden isn’t.
So I know we only ever see the facade of the house. But, by presenting that (lovely) facade to us, they are implying that it directly matches up with the interior of the house.
In real life, that same house is now up For Sale. It’s 6,679 square feet, has six bedrooms, six bathrooms and is listed at just a lick over six million dollars. Reasonable for this market. What the show tells about the house is my problem. It’s listed as having six bedrooms and those fabulists over at Warner Bros. tried to tell us otherwise. I know, I know, they don’t do any actual filming film in that house. But if you’re using that facade, we should assume what’s inside properly correlates with what’s outside. This isn’t Hermione’s bloody bag. If a house looks like the above picture, then it’s got a good few bedrooms. Six seems right. I suppose it could have a couple more or a couple less. But what the creators are implying to us is that that house has two bedrooms which is a cold, hard slap in the face.
Ryan lives in the pool house. But when a visitor comes to stay, he gallantly moves on over to the house. Except for that time Kirsten’s sister Hailey turns up at GOD KNOWS what hour and Ryan takes the sofa.
But when other guests come to stay, like Theresa ‘She 100% is not 16’ Diaz, Ryan goes and stays on the bloody floor in Seth’s room. I guess maybe they just like staying in the same room. Hey how about if you love Seth’s room so much, just move in there, Ryan?
Why not the spare room? Because there isn’t one? Because that giant house has two bedrooms? What exactly is it you’re trying to pull, The O.C?
Join me next week for ‘114 times The O.C mugged me off’.