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TV Characters Way Too Poor To Realistically Afford Their Lifestyles

Updated November 13, 2019 55.4k votes 11.2k voters 907.7k views20 items

List RulesVote up the television characters who can't possibly afford to live the way they do based on their occupations.

When you're sitting through the best TV shows to speed 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.

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  • Carrie Bradshaw
    Photo: HBO

    TV Show: SATC

    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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  • Hannah Horvath
    Photo: HBO

    TV Show: Girls

    In an episode of Girls in Season 6, Hannah gets pregnant and starts listing reasons why it’s insane to think she could have the baby. One of them was pretty straightforward - “I will make less than 24K this year.” Ever since her parents cut her off in the first episode of the series, her financial life has been a bit unrealistic especially because she abruptly quit her high-paid GQ job. But with less than $24,000 per year, it’s hard to imagine she could afford to live in a New York apartment, even with Elijah as a roommate.

    And then, she suddenly gets a high-paid teaching job with health care and enough cash for her to afford a big house somewhere upstate? Talk about unrealistic.

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  • Rachel And Kurt
    Photo: Fox

    TV show: Glee

    Rachel and Kurt’s Bushwick apartment apparently costs only $1800 per month in the Glee universe. Let’s say that's believable, even though being able to ride your bike in your New York apartment would obviously mean the rent would be higher. Still, when first moving there, Rachel is a student and Kurt is an unpaid intern. How could they possibly swing nearly two grand a month?

    Their parents might have helped, sure. But it still would have been incredibly tough when you bring day-to-day expenses into the mix.  

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  • Penny
    Photo: CBS

    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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