New York City as seen on TV is a perpetually spotless, sunny paradise filled with 20-somethings in spacious apartments and romantic prospects on every other street corner. Sometimes this escapist fare isn’t quite what IRL New Yorkers want to see onscreen. Situations facing dysfunctional bodega staff, morning commuters at their usual subway platform, fervent apartment hunters, and more carry the true comedic moments that locals experience every day.
The sitcom genre’s New York darlings, like Friends and Seinfeld, only skim the surface of the real city’s comedic potential. Although the classic sitcom format might be rare nowadays, there’s no doubt that any New Yorker can value the comedy of this lifestyle.
RECOMMENDED: The 9 types of subway riders you see during rush hour in NYC
Below are eight sitcoms that would be realistic to New Yorkers.
1. An aspiring musician playing at a different bar every week
This series would introduce a down-on-their-luck performer forced to play wherever they’re allowed, ranging from the local dive bar to a Times Square pub to a secret speakeasy found in a subway tunnel. Their eclectic friend group would obviously have to tag along for each gig, dissecting their own artistic qualms in between sets and wishing for a big break to come along at the next bar.
2. A family running their own building management company
The stressful process of finding a new apartment is usually only funny in hindsight for the clients, but what about the people causing all of the strife? A family of brokers, landlords, and superintendents working together could be the secret sauce for the perfect comedy of errors. Picture a well-worn building in Queens struggling to keep up with gentrification’s demands and the family business needing to employ the younger generation for a boost.
3. A dysfunctional but lovable bodega staff just getting through the day
Next to shows about friends hanging out, workplace comedies are the most irresistible sitcom setup. Whether the fan favorite is the curmudgeonly owner looming behind the counter, the eager-to-please delivery boy, or the plucky career girl stopping by for instant noodles, the corner bodega supplies a full cast of entertaining characters any viewer will recognize (including a bodega cat).
4. Friends beginning their morning commute together
Sitcoms never quite explore the specifics of New York geography and where the characters are going to work each day. However, seeing as friends on TV always conveniently live in the same neighborhood, it isn’t far-fetched to pitch a sitcom about young professionals congregating at the bus stop or on the subway platform every day. The busy setting allows for plenty of recurring and guest stars and provides the safe, cozy feeling that arriving at your local stop brings.
5. Total strangers having to live together
An Odd Couple-esque pair suddenly becoming roommates isn’t unheard of in comedies, but rarely do they get the scenario right. Where are the scenes about sharing a flex two-bedroom with a Craigslist roomie? What about landing a sublet where an attractive stranger already lives? Ultimately, you either become actual friends with an unfamiliar roommate or they’re a mystical being only spotted sporadically, but it’s the unpredictable moments in between that encapsulate how bizarre this situation can be.
6. An inter-borough romance blooming despite all odds
A long-distance relationship has a different definition in the New York metro area. Committing to someone in another borough has serious stakes. How I Met Your Father is the latest TV show claiming that potential love interests living in completely different areas (one on the Upper West Side and one in Queens) would see each other regularly, but New Yorkers know better. If a sitcom tackles this realistically, expect episodes about navigating reduced weekend transit, finding good bars near the midway point between the couple, and the analytic scheduling of which borough they have dinner in that Friday.
7. Lowly production assistants and camera crews working on the set of a New York drama
Who doesn’t love the show-within-a-show trope? If you’ve ever stumbled across a New York-based series filming on location, chances are that you usually only see the people behind the scenes rather than any onscreen talent. Just like they can’t resist lingering around a TV set, viewers would eat up a coffee-fetching PA dying to be a screenwriter, a jaded cameraperson in it for the pay, and an intern who scored the job because they knew a guy. Make the drama they’re working on a thinly veiled version of Law & Order and the final product is a hit within a hit.
8. People who only see each other at a specific weekly activity
Hanging out with the same people every day is one of TV’s longstanding lies about adulthood. Your New York social life is likelier to revolve around the random people you see once a week at yoga, trivia night, or a park run. Much like Cheers rarely takes the action away from the titular bar, this kind of show would be contained at the activity site, letting characters discuss their problems with opinionated people somewhere in between friends and strangers. Do you even live in New York if you don’t vent about your life with people you barely know?