T.V. Finally Gets The Hint: Living In NYC Really Is That Expensive
1:16 pm, March 30th | by Laura Donovan
Though we enjoyed watching columnist Carrie Bradshaw prance around New York City in Manolos during our financially clueless college years, we figured out pretty early on that the “Sex and the City” character would lack the means to fund her sparkly frivolities in the real world. And yet many of us still pursued journalism or other low paying glamour fields to follow through with our aspiration of leading lavish lives, only to learn that happy hours, broker’s fees, monthly rent, and utilities bills put noticeable dents in our wallets and leave us feeling more like cautionary tales than successful career women.
That’s why we’re pleased to see the entertainment industry expose the truth about residing in a city — particularly New York — as a young person, or shall I say “emerging adult.” To promote the new NYC-centered sitcom, “Don’t Trust The B— in Apt. 23,” which we’ve taken to task in the past, ABC has just released an infographic listing some of the inexpensive places to eat in the concrete jungle. While we appreciate its inclusion of the reasonable and ever reliable Gray’s Papaya, which was featured in ”How I Met Your Mother,” we’re puzzled that a music venue/restaurant that serves $12 cocktails would make the cut, but their greater message about affordability in NYC is what counts, right?
We don’t know too much about the upcoming program aside from its silly title, but we’re intrigued by the television industry’s attempt to show what it’s really like for post-graduates to survive in pricey urban hotspots after the recession. Why it took the economic crisis of 2008 for Hollywood to see that young folks in New York must live on a budget, I cannot tell you, but new productions and projects on the matter provide viewers a sense of comfort and solidarity that we never knew we needed.
“2 Broke Girls” did that for me. In October, I took a leap of faith by relocating from Washington D.C. to New York City on a whim to accept what I thought would be my dream job. The problems, however, presented themselves long before I began to wonder whether I’d selected the right opportunity. I had to drop several thousand dollars for the move (oh, the joys of lease breaking), and arriving in New York with limited savings is a recipe for disaster. The only thing that made me feel better about my financial situation and sorry neighborhood in embattled Bed Stuy was CBS’s “2 Broke Girls,” a comedy about a working class young woman and a former rich girl who befriend each other while serving at a Brooklyn restaurant.
Though I’ve never been wealthy, I identified more closely with Caroline, an ex-billion heiress type who is forced to get a job after her father’s involvement in a Madoff-esque Ponzi scheme leaves her with nothing. At first, the little things frustrate her — having to purchase tooth breaking wax floss rather than Glide and lacking basic household needs such as hand towels and toilet paper. Max, a sarcastic waitress who jokes about her own unstable upbringing to veil the pain it has caused her, has never known anything but constantly struggling to make ends meet and people letting her down. The girls lean on each other to cope with their monetary troubles and somehow manage to laugh about the travails of residing in the garbage strewn, creeper-infested streets of Brooklyn. It took “2 Broke Girls,” for me to find humor in the fact that my bedroom window (up until next week, when I relocate to the upper east side, hello “Gossip Girl”) overlooks a junkyard and faces a creepy abandoned building, my ancient room is occupied by a needy poltergeist whose favorite time to tap dance on my floorboards is when I shut off the lights for bed, and I eat pasta twice a week even though I’m two years out of college.
Because CBS no longer posts full episodes of “2 Broke Girls” on the site anymore, I haven’t kept up with the sitcom in recent weeks, but thankfully I have HBO’s “Girls,” a comedy about poor twenty-somethings in New York City written by gifted 25-year-old Lena Dunham, to look forward to. She not only faces difficulties finding work in NYC, she also makes the same mistake so many high achieving women in New York fall victim to. She dates men-children who cannot be bothered to respond to her texts and have made females everywhere conclude that chivalry died ages ago. Jemima Kirke, who played a self-involved bad influence in “Tiny Furniture,” said herself that it’s hard to create an honest show but that “Girls” is not a “total lie” like “Sex and the City.”
While “Sex and the City” gives us something to aim for (and inspires moves from Brooklyn to Manhattan), having “Girls” and “2 Broke Girls” is equally important and brings us back to reality. We all do not, in fact, splurge on $1,000 heels, spend upwards of three grand on broker’s fees, or live among the rich and famous in Chelsea. These new shows keep us down to earth and from racking up our bar tabs, but also help us see that life on the cheap isn’t so uncommon or awful — especially when you have friends who can relate and guide you through the uncertainty that comes with being a twenty-something.