If you’ve ever watched a TV series and suspected a certain character’s lifestyle exceeded their paycheck, you’re not alone. Many TV characters’ fictional existence is based on the premise that they have a lot more money than is actually realistic.
Click through to find out what some TV apartments really cost — and which characters couldn’t afford their own lifestyles.
Average salary in 1994: $26,278.74
Played by Courteney Cox, Monica Geller was a main character on “Friends” for the show’s entire 1994 to 2004 run. She resided in a far from average apartment: a spacious two-bedroom, one bathroom apartment with a terrace in New York City’s West Village neighborhood.
The apartment was rent-controlled, but it still likely cost around $4,800 per month. Monica always had a roommate, but even still, her half of the rent would’ve come to $2,400 monthly.
Beyond the unrealistic rent, she also constantly hung out at the fictional Greenwich Village coffee shop Central Perk. Every coffee ordered would’ve cost roughly $1.76, which adds up fast when you’re ordering at least one per day.
Average salary in 1998: $35,553.29
From 1998 to 2004, Sarah Jessica Parker played the role of the fabulous Carrie Bradshaw on “Sex and the City.” She wrote a weekly column titled “Sex and the City” for the fictitious newspaper The New York Star, which can be an enjoyable job, but it doesn’t always pay well.
Bradshaw resided in a one-bedroom brownstone apartment located on New York City’s affluent Upper East Side. Due to rent control, she only paid $700 per month, according to ForRent.com, which seems unrealistically cheap, but Bradshaw’s expenses still didn’t add up.
The writer had a penchant for really expensive shoes. In Season 6, a pair of her $485 Manolo Blahniks were stolen at a party. At one point in the TV series, Bradshaw estimates she’s spent $40,000 on shoes.
Job: Radio psychiatrist
Average salary in 1993: $56,813.48
Kelsey Grammer was Dr. Frasier Crane on “Frasier” — one of the most iconic TV shows of all-time — from 1993 to 2004. The radio psychiatrist earned a decent living, but his ultra-high-end lifestyle seemed a little too posh for his paycheck.
A Seattle resident, Frasier owned a three-bedroom, two-bathroom luxury condo with sweeping views of the Space Needle and the city’s skyline in the fictional Elliot Bay Towers. A home of this stature would’ve cost him roughly $1.6 million.
Frasier also drove a BMW, which had a starting price of approximately $30,000. A patron of the arts, he frequented the opera and the theater. He also enjoyed expensive wine and fine dining.
Average salary in 1990: $36,141.81
James Eckhouse was Jim Walsh on “Beverly Hills, 90210” from 1990 to 1998. The father of Brenda and Brandon and husband to Cindy was the family’s sole breadwinner. Considering Jim’s job transferred the family from Minneapolis to Beverly Hills, Calif., it’s very possible he was earning an above-average salary for an accountant, but their lifestyle still didn’t make sense.
The family owned a three-bedroom home in Beverly Hills, which would’ve cost around $1.2 million. Among their wealthy group of friends, the Walsh family was never considered rich, but they lived a comfortable life. In fact, Jim and Cindy had an elegant 20th-anniversary party during Season 4 that would have come with a notable price tag.
Job: Social worker
Average salary in 1992: $26,955.57
Doug Savant was Matt Fielding on “Melrose Place” from 1992 to 1998. He lived in the West Hollywood, Calif., apartment complex featured on the show, which would have cost around $1,600 per month in rent.
Considered a kind and caring guy, Matt took custody of his niece, Chelsea, after his brother passed away. If he received financial support to care for the girl, it wasn’t noted.
Despite being openly gay, Matt married a co-worker named Katya so she could remain in the U.S. He also cared for her daughter while she was out of the country, which likely cost him extra money.
Learn more: The 15 Most Expensive TV Shows to Produce
Job: Lunch counter owner at Tom Nevers Field
Average salary in 1990: $26,951.23
Played by Crystal Bernard, Helen Chapel was a main character on “Wings” from 1990 to 1997. Despite her dreams of playing the cello in a symphony orchestra, she ran the lunch counter at the Tom Nevers Field airport terminal in Nantucket, Mass. — a position previously held by her father.
The airport was tiny and the lunch counter was aptly small, but Helen still managed to own a house on the island. Nantucket isn’t a cheap place to live, so the house — which was accidentally burned down by her sister and brother-in-law in Season 7 — likely cost around $575,000.
After the fire, Helen and her new husband Joe received a large insurance settlement, which prompted her to go on a major shopping spree.
Job: Sports writer
Average salary in 1996: $35,208.21
From 1996 to 2005, Ray Romano was Ray Barone on “Everybody Loves Raymond.” He was married to Debra, a homemaker, with whom he shared three children.
The Barones weren’t flashy people, but it didn’t seem like Ray’s job as a sports columnist for the local newspaper Newsday would have been too lucrative. Housing wasn’t the cheapest in their hometown of Lynbrook, Long Island, where Ray’s parents famously lived across the street. A three-bedroom, 2 1/2-bathroom home in the area would have cost around $420,000.
Even with the steady stream of free food from Ray’s intrusive mother Marie and no-cost babysitting, life for a family of five on a paycheck of this size appears unrealistic.
Average salary in 1982: $7,846.92
Shelley Long played Diane Chambers on “Cheers,” which ran from 1982 to 1993. She was stranded in the eponymous bar during the show’s first episode and was subsequently hired to work as a cocktail waitress.
The opinionated character with highbrow tastes appeared to have her own apartment. Even a very modest studio apartment would’ve cost her around $360 per month, which is a lot considering her pre-tax income would have been around $650.
Diane became engaged to Dr. Frasier Crane — who appeared on “Cheers” before scoring his own spinoff — during Season 3, who likely picked up the tab for her worldly interests, but she left him at the altar at the end of the season. She eventually became a writer and moved to California.
Average salary in 1989: $0
Michael Richards was Cosmo Kramer on “Seinfeld,” one of the top TV shows of the ‘90s. The show ran from 1989 to 1998, and despite living in New York City, Kramer rarely worked.
Unlike many gainfully employed New Yorkers, Kramer had his own apartment across the hall from Jerry on the fifth floor of 129 West 81st Street. Zillow estimates the value of a studio apartment with one bathroom at this address to be $605,107 as of March 2018. In 1989, the price would have been a much more reasonable $295,274, but that’s still a lot of money for someone without a job.
At one point in the series, Kramer went back to work at H&H Bagels after being on strike for more than a decade but was promptly fired. He held several other short-lived jobs, including working as a department store Santa.
Average salary in 2011: $17,995.24
Mae Whitman was Amber Holt on “Parenthood” for all six seasons of the show, which ran from 2010 to 2015. During the TV show’s third season, Amber decided to move out of her grandparents’ house and into an apartment of her own.
The apartment was far from luxurious, but it was in Berkeley, Calif. Even a tiny one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment would have cost her around $840 per month.
To her credit, Amber realized she wasn’t earning enough money. She swiftly got a job working for local politician Bob Little, before eventually moving on to an executive director role at the Luncheonette, a recording studio owned by her uncles.
Average salary in 1998: $79,485.22
He became a business owner in the 2017 reboot of “Will and Grace,” but from 1998 to 2006, Eric McCormack’s character Will Truman was a lawyer. No doubt about it, Truman was successful, but he was portrayed as having a budget that didn’t quite fit.
He lived in a spacious two-bedroom, two-bathroom Upper West Side apartment with a private patio, which would have cost about $2,982 per month in 1998. Throughout the series, his best friends Grace and Jack lived with him at various times — until Grace became a permanent fixture — but given the dialogue on the show, it was clear they didn’t always pitch in with expenses.
Will also largely supported Jack for most of his adult life, which likely came at a considerable cost.
Job: Shoe salesman
Average salary in 1986: $10,447.70
Ed O’Neill played the role of Al Bundy on “Married With Children” from 1986 to 1997. The sole breadwinner of the family, Al provided for his wife, Peggy, and kids, Bud and Kelly.
The Bundys’ lifestyle was never portrayed as glamorous, but they lived comfortably considering Al’s tiny salary. They owned their Chicago home, which had three bedrooms and at least two bathrooms. This would have cost them roughly $134,000 in 1986.
He drove an old Dodge, which made sense for his financial situation. However, his wife was an avid shopper and the TV series’ opening credits even showed Al distributing cash to his family, which didn’t quite add up.
Average salary in 2014: $0
In the TV series “About a Boy,” Minnie Driver played the role of single mom Fiona Bowa. The show aired from 2014 to 2015, during which time Fiona looked for a job and eventually found one where she appeared to answer phones, which might have implied secretarial work.
The fact that Fiona and her young son Marcus lived in San Francisco only added to the intrigue of her financial situation. Their home had at least two bedrooms and a private backyard, which would have cost around $3,000 per month to rent in 2014.
Marcus’ father didn’t appear to be in the picture, but the hippie vegan mom didn’t seem cash-strapped. Even if she was working as a secretary, she probably would have been earning around $36,000 per year, which didn’t fit her lifestyle.
Average salary in 2012: $221,080.20
From 2012 to 2017, Mindy Kaling was Mindy Lahiri on “The Mindy Project.” By all means, she earned a good living as an OB/GYN — and later served double duty as a fertility specialist — but she had a pretty expensive lifestyle.
Her large one-bedroom apartment in a New York City brownstone would have cost around $1.7 million in 2012. Mindy also had a passion for fashion, food and decor that likely added up fast.
On top of that, her son Leo was born in 2015. In Season 4, she opted not to send him to the elite Little Doorways Academy for Ethical Children, which cost $70,000 per year in tuition.
Job: Aspiring entrepreneur
Average salary in 1998: Unknown
Greg Grunberg played would-be entrepreneur Sean Blumberg on “Felicity” from 1998 to 2002. He wasn’t a student at the fictional University of New York like most of his friends, but 20-something Sean owned a pretty amazing three-bedroom loft.
This type of abode in the Greenwich Village section of New York City would have cost more than $1.4 million in 1998. He collected rent from his roommates, but Sean relied on failed business ventures — such as selling over-priced fruit to students cramming for finals and freshman survival packs — to earn cash, which made his loft ownership and general city lifestyle a bit of a head-scratcher.
Click through to read about the TV shows that have the highest-paid casts.
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