15 NYC Sitcoms
Friends is coming to Netflix January 1, which is good news for the series' legion of obsessive fans.
But for some, it's impossible to get past those gigantic Greenwich Village apartments housing young people whose jobs suggest a level of income better suited to Ridgewood studios.
Below, you'll see a representative (but by no means complete) selection of 15 NYC-based sitcoms, ranked by just how much sense of place they provide and how "real" they seem.
To help with our decisions and add some academic gravitas, we enlisted David Bushman, television curator for the Paley Center for Media.
*Editor's note: Actually, we just kind of felt it out.
Bushman would characterize this series' version of New York City as astoundingly fake, if enjoyable—but what do you expect from a show whose premise revolves around identical cousins?
We wondered exactly how incorrect this portrayal of NYC really was.
It would be really, really hard for a truly broke transplant to live in Williamsburg these days.
a) No matter what your tour guide tells you, you cannot see the actual fountain where the cast dances in the opening credits during your trip to New York City.
b) The Friends apartment building from establishing shots is at the corner of Bedford and Grove Streets, in Manhattan's West Village.
c) Once you get past the somewhat far-fetched housing situation, Bushman argues the show has some real New York City character.
Still, the series and conflicts therein frequently feel universal rather than New York–centric, and, in many episodes, the NYC character comes from the establishing shots.
Earlyish Fox series Herman's Head has been a target of mockery for its cheesy high concept and execution, but, as Bushman points out, at least one episode's plotline eloquently expresses a classic New York City dilemma.
In "I Wanna Go Home," Herman—who's come to the City to become a writer, and works as a fact-checker at a magazine (it was the early '90s, folks)—is offered a secure job back home in Ohio.
One of the most popular sitcoms ever, I Love Lucy followed Lucy Ricardo's crazy schemes to hit it big and her husband Ricky's attempts to rein in her antics.
In season 3's "Lucy Is Envious," Lucy promises to donate $500 to charity in order to impress a wealthy former classmate.
Night Court is a place where some of New York City's more outlandish characters congregated, and that idea comes across nicely in the episode where Michael Richards, later of Seinfeld, thinks he's invisible.
Where but New York City could you set a series about a sketch-comedy show with a suspicious resemblance to Saturday Night Live?
This show followed the lives of Ralph and Alice Kramden, a bus driver and his wife living in Brooklyn.
Archie Bunker may have been a bigot, but it's almost universally acknowledged that he was a realistic character—and plenty of New Yorkers could probably recognize a bit of Bunker in someone they knew (that he was complex enough to change some of his views over time and endear himself to many viewers emphasizes this).
As for The Jeffersons, a spinoff about Bunker's neighbors who move to Manhattan, "it's about a guy who is able to make it big, to live the dream that so many people come to the City for.
Here's where we get into a discussion of realism vs.
The TV adaptation of a play by dyed-in-the-wool New Yorker Neil Simon followed the lives of Oscar Madison and Felix Unger, mismatched roommates tossed together by circumstance when Unger's wife throws him out of their house.
This series, set largely in a downtown taxi garage, follows the exploits of cabbies who are chasing other dreams but driving to pay the bills.
Here we are in the 2010s, an era that one trusted media confidante has affectionately referred to as TV comedy's "grunge phase." One of the leaders among cable's pack of gritty, single-camera comedies is Louie, which chronicles the travails faced by a fictionalized version of divorced father and comedian Louis C.K.
Also notable in the grunge sitcom set is Girls, which follows a group of young creative types (what some might call "trustafarians") as they try to make it in Brooklyn.
We're already on record as calling Seinfeld the New Yorkiest show of all time, and nothing has happened to change that.
Bushman sums up the New Yorkiness of this show and others that depend on forced interaction: "In LA, you get in your car; you drive to the garage; you get out of the garage; you go to your office.
Interested in exploring New York City through the lens of film and TV?