When you're sitting through the best TV shows to binge watch, it’s natural to suspend disbelief. So when a TV character obviously can't afford the beautiful home they live in, you may not notice at first. After all, you’re basically taking a short break from real life to enjoy the drama of fictional characters, so you don’t necessary expect their lives to be 100% realistic. There are plenty of cases where characters are obviously bad at their jobs, such as fictional TV writers who are terrible at writing, and no one bats an eye.
But sometimes, screenwriters and creators push things way too far, especially when it comes to practical stuff like explaining how characters can manage to live in high-cost neighborhoods and buy expensive clothes when they’re supposed to be struggling with cash. How can Carrie Bradshaw afford to live in Manhattan while all she does is write a weekly column, for crying out loud? It can be frustrating to watch a TV character who is supposed to be poor sport a designer jacket while living in a spacious loft in Brooklyn like it’s no big deal. TV creators sometimes come up with a gimmick that explains their lavish lifestyle, which usually involves a spectacular apartment being rent controlled (as if).
Honestly, seeing your favorite characters struggling to make rent while sipping pricey cocktails, having extensive wardrobes, and brunching like there’s no tomorrow is distracting and can rob you of the pleasure of truly enjoying the show. If you can’t go out and blow your entire paycheck on fancy shoes and a lavish night out, console yourself with the fact that some of your favorite characters would be financially ruined in reality. Then check out this list and vote up the TV characters who shouldn't be able to afford their lifestyles.
TV Show: Friends
There’s been a lot of controversy over how Monica and Rachel could afford that gorgeous apartment, but Monica always said it was rent controlled. So, technically, the girls could be paying less than $500/month in rent. While it would have been easier for Monica to get by on a chef’s salary, Rachel is obviously struggling at the beginning of the series while working as a waitress. Remember when she wasn’t able to save enough money to go on a skiing trip with her family?
Still, while earning around $24,000/year, she manages to cover her share of rent/utilities and her living expenses. Let’s hope Monica was kind enough to buy all the groceries for those first few months. At least Joey was more than open about the fact that Chandler had to cover for him on a regular basis.
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TV Show: The Big Bang Theory
As a waitress at the Cheesecake Factory, it’s doubtful Penny had the cash to pay for a one-bedroom apartment back when she was single, let alone afford all those bottles of wine and extremely cute clothes. While she did hang with the geeks next door mainly for the free food and was often portrayed to be struggling financially, Penny never really seemed to be in dire trouble with money. Maybe her parents helped her out?
Thankfully, she later finds a better-paying job and lives with Leonard. We can only hope she’s paying down the debt she must have accumulated in the show’s early years.
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TV Show: Sex and the City
Okay, so a lot of ink was spilled over this one. Carrie is a columnist for a weekly newspaper who basically only writes four articles per month, but somehow can afford to live in a fancy Manhattan apartment, buy tons of designer clothes, and wear Manolo Blahniks. While the show did devote an entire episode to Carrie’s disastrous finances, it’s a mystery how she never thought about getting a side hustle until she was faced with losing her home.
Someone actually estimated how much Carrie’s lifestyle would cost these days and figured she would spend around $6,954/month, while earning only around $3,166. Of course, her income would increase once she starts writing successful books. But for the first few seasons, viewers are left baffled.
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Max And Caroline
TV Show: 2 Broke Girls
As the title suggests, Max and Caroline are always broke, which makes sense since they work as waitresses at a diner while simultaneously living in New York. What doesn’t make sense, however, is their ridiculous apartment. Don’t let the exposed brick or the fact that Caroline sleeps on a Murphy bed fool you - the loft is in Williamsburg, it’s spacious, and it comes with yard space for Chestnut. They should be paying way over $2,000/month in rent alone.
While it’s refreshing to see two girls struggling with their finances every week, their digs are far from realistic.