Apr 01 2014
It’s a bit of an understatement to say that New York’s one of the world’s great cities. Home to over 8 million people, it’s a cultural melting pot that’s home to some of the world’s most glamorous celebrities as well as some of the America’s most disadvantaged.
It’s a city of crime and culture; high art and mass marketing. It’s such a fascinating landscape that it’s no wonder so many shows are set in New York, even when production costs force most of them to be shot in cheaper cities.
With this week’s launch of Girls Season 3, we’re touring the New York locations that our favourite TV characters call home.
2 Broke Girls - Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Known as one of America’s hipster Meccas, Williamsburg has long been a hub for the arts thanks to its large, former industrial spaces and low rent costs. However, that has long since been the case. Since the 90s, rapid gentrification has forced the living costs up, resulting in the stereotype of young, affluent residents in tight jeans and affected eyeglasses who like the idea of ‘slumming it’.
Struggling waitresses Max and Caroline live in a suitably dilapidated ground-floor apartment somewhere in Williamsburg. When they’re not working for tips in a nearby diner with their stereotype immigrant colleagues, they can be found in this squalid hole. It’s from this very flat that they build their dream of running a cupcake shop (in a neighbourhood that already has at least three dedicated cupcake shops).
Girls: Greenpoint, Brooklyn
Set and shot in this neighbourhood overlooking the East River, Girls has done a lot to shine a light on Greenpoint. Seen by some as a slightly more affordable version of Williamsburg, the area was re-zoned by the Mayor’s office in 2005. Where a hundred years ago there were pencil factories and shipyards, there’s now a wealth of boutiques, bakeries and indie record labels.
If you want to walk a day in Hannah’s shoes (or neon yellow string vest), you could do a lot worse than heading over to Brooklyn and cracking open a cold can of Pabst Blue Ribbon.
Friends: Greenwich Village, Manhattan
Much has already been made about the fact that Monica would never have been able to afford her palatial apartment in Greenwich Village with her chef’s salary. Throughout the seasons, it was eventually revealed that the building benefitted from New York’s famously vague ‘rent control’ scheme. As she’s admitted, her low rent also relies on the landlord believing she’s an 80 year-old woman.
30 Rock: 30 Rockefeller Plaza, Midtown
Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) and the show-within-a-show TGS with Tracy Jordan are based out of the GE building, home to the real-life National Broadcasting Corporation. Fey based the show on her experiences as the head writer of Saturday Night Live, which itself is broadcast live from the 8th floor of this 70-story skyscraper.
If you ever find yourself in New York, take a pass on going up the Empire State Building. Instead, go to the Top of the Rock at the GE Building for perhaps the most stunning views of Manhattan (including a direct line of sight to the Empire State). NBC also run regular tours of their facilities during the day, led by Kenneth’s real-life counterparts.
Person of Interest: East 30th and Lexington, Midtown
Secretive billionaire Harold Finch once built a machine that watches everybody in America. Using some sophisticated techno-magic, it can predict murders before they even happen. Assumed dead by the government, Finch now runs a modern A-Team with the help of former special ops bad-ass Jim Caviezel. Using details fed to them by the machine, they run around New York saving lives.
Because Finch exists off the grid, he must base his operations out of a secret location. Somewhere really discreet like in an ostentatious former design school off Park Avenue in Midtown (see map below)
Mad Men: Time-Life Building, Midtown
When the advertising firm of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce set up shop, the senior partners knew that they had to make an impact with their offices. So what better choice of location than the Time-Life Building in New York’s iconic Rockefeller Centre? By basing themselves a block away from Madison Avenue (and the rest of their competition), the folks at SCDP established themselves as a firm that was willing to think outside the box.
As the building’s name suggests, it’s also home to the offices of the prestigious magazines Time and Life.
Flight of the Conchords: Two Bridges, Lower Manhattan
New Zealand’s 4th most popular guitar-based novelty duo and recent transplants found themselves living in this Manhattan neighbourhood. Named for the fact that it’s enclosed by the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges, it has traditionally been populated by immigrant communities (hence the number of shop signs in Chinese).
As portrayed in the show, the New Zealand consulate (where Murray works) is just located a few blocks away in the same neighbourhood. In reality, the actual Kiwi consulate is located in Midtown, near Grand Central Station.
Seinfeld: Upper Manhattan
Struggling stand-up Jerry seems to be doing pretty well for himself, considering the size of the apartment he’s scored in a rather expensive part of town. Over Seinfeld’s 9 year run, the characters would often find themselves in Monk’s Diner. In fact, the exterior shot used in almost every episode is of Tom’s Restaurant, a Greek deli located near Columbia University’s campus in Upper Manhattan.
Sex and the City: East Village
Newspaper columnist Carrie Bradshaw can be occasionally found in a one bedroom flat at 66 Perry Street. It’s a nice one-bedroom deal in the West Village where a gal-about-town can comfortably punch her personal exploits into an Apple Powerbook. Like Monica’s flat from Friends, it’s also rent controlled so she’s getting it for a song. Which is all well and good, seeing as how she dumps her entire disposable income at Bergdorff’s department store.
The current owners of this brownstone property are somewhat protective of it. A chain and sign discourages tourists from sitting on the stoop while Google StreetView has blurred-out the entire house to stop online rubberneckers from looking at it.
Louie: Greenwich Village
Few TV shows manage to showcase a city in the way that Louis CK’s self-titled programme does. In many ways based on his own life, Louie makes the most of its New York setting, filming some of the most evocative and romantic scenes of New York since Woody Allen’s Manhattan. Whether it’s a romantic interlude show on the High Line Park or a diner where Louie’s having pancakes with his young daughters, each scene is packed with enough loving detail of the city to make you homesick for a place you’ve never been.
Perhaps the show’s most iconic location is the Comedy Cellar in Greenwich Village, which even turns up in the title sequence every week. An intimate club where you can watch genuine comedy stars working through new material every night, it plays host to most of the stand-up scenes in Louie.
Here is a map, plotting out all of those locations.
Girls Season 3 is now available on blinkbox