Why Do American TV Show Characters All Have Such Stylish Apartments?

Forget Del Boy's council flat, American TV characters know how to live in style on a seemingly invisible budget...
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Forget Del Boy's council flat, American TV characters know how to live in style on a seemingly invisible budget...


It’s no surprise that most of the world thinks half of Britain live in ancestral homes, whilst the other half live in dingily lit council funded squats, because that is exactly what British TV would suggest. When it comes to on screen real estate the middle ground is non-existent. The Americans, on the other hand, use their set design to better effect. Watching American TV is like watching a series of adverts for the New York lifestyle – the apartments are cooler, the interiors more sophisticated and the decor more ambitious. And I’ve completely fallen for it. Give me a nouveau Upper East Side apartment any day because those antiquarian mansions look far too cold to actually live in.

Charlie – Girls

Charlie’s apartment has been making almost as much of a stir as Lena Dunham’s exhibitionism in the hit show. If you’re going to live in New York and don’t fancy squatting in a friend of a friend’s cupboard then this is how you should do it. Never before has a 12 x 12 metre box been put to such stylish and efficient use, with every inch showing another genius use of space.

Don Draper – Mad Men

Ever since Don Draper moved into his new Upper East Side pad with his new wife at the beginning of Season 5, I’ve been in love. It’s more bachelor pad than marital nest, with its leather chairs, sunken floors and skyline views. But it shouts free love and enlightened 60’s living louder than any of Megan’s thigh high dresses ever could.


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Carrie Bradshaw – Sex and The City

No self-respecting writer would ever admit to wanting to live in Carrie’s clichéd Greenwich village apartment (except for this one, apparently) but the truth is the walk in wardrobe and welcoming decor are just too much for the wannabe Manolo wearing Manhattanite in me to resist.

Tom – Smash

Stephen Spielberg’s TV musical is essentially a grown up, less amusing version of Glee. However, its characters inhabit some intricately detailed apartments that have clearly had a great deal of thought put into them. My favourite is composer Tom’s lofty high ceilinged apartment with its 70’s inspired decorations, grand features and eclectic collection of bold patterned accessories.

Monica and Rachel – Friends

Despite never seeming to be at work, the cast of Friends lived very well for the ten years they took over our TVs. At the time I never paid much attention to the purple walls and cluttered furniture but looking back at it now it’s mismatched mid 90’s decor looks unassumingly retro. An oldie but a goldie.