What “FRIENDS” has right and wrong about life in New York

From TV shows to movies, New York City is glamorized in every way possible, so much so that when I tell people I live there, their eyes light up and they ask a million questions. “Yes, it’s beautiful at Christmas. No, I don’t drink coffee at Central Perk every day,” I tell them. If you watched Friends as much as I do, you know the depiction of the city is what gives the show much of its charm. But to what extent is this representation true? Can you really go from waitress to fashion director, like Rachel Green did when she moved there? Here’s a breakdown of the expectations versus the reality of living in New York.

Waiting: You meet celebrities all the time.

Monica and Rachel are each dating actor Jean-Claude Van Damme while living opposite ABC News host George Stephanopoulos — that’s just the reality of life in New York City. According Friends, skirmishes with famous people are as common as rats on subway tracks. Throughout the series, Chandler is stuck in an ATM vestibule with model Jill Goodacre, Ross meets Isabella Rosselini at Central Perk, Phoebe stops by Sting’s to ask for concert tickets, and Joey lands the acting role. as Al Pacino’s butt double.

Reality: You can see a guy dressed as Elmo in Times Square.

While it’s very possible that you’ll meet a celebrity while living in New York, the closest you’ll likely get is visiting Madame Tussauds wax museum or taking pictures with people dressed as Sesame Street characters in Times Square. But if you really want to meet someone famous in the Big Apple, you can always wait outside the stage after a Broadway musical or sign up for free tickets to The show tonight. Celebrity dating happens, but not as often as Friends suggests – I shared an elevator with Lady Gaga at JFK in 2009, but I certainly couldn’t get to her house or grab free concert tickets like Phoebe did.

Waiting: It is possible to find seats for six people in a café.

Because as often as the Friends frequent Central Perk, the large orange sofa and its surrounding tables are always unoccupied. Except in one episode, no matter how crowded, they always find a place to sit – if it’s not the couch, it’s the coveted window seat. And unless it’s Rachel or Joey serving the coffee, the service is exceptionally fast. Almost as soon as someone orders a drink, Gunther prepares and serves it faster than it takes a New York cab to honk at a passerby.

Reality: A cafe in New York is a horrible meeting place.

Having a quick cup of coffee at a cafe like Central Perk on a busy weekday is basically a pipe dream in New York. Unless you pick the right time or pre-order your coffee on the Starbucks or Pret a Manger app, you’ll have to line up with all the other naive tourists. By the time you get your coffee, you’ll have to enjoy it standing up, as there’s rarely seating for one person let alone six. Even so, better coffee is always within reach. There are bodegas and food stalls on virtually every street corner – the same ones that sell hot dogs and pretzels, also sell coffee and muffins in the morning. You definitely don’t have to go to Starbucks to enjoy a Cup of Joe in town. The best coffee actually comes in a Greek “Anthora” coffee cup, a New York original.

Waiting: You may have to work as a waitress for two years before you land your dream job.

As soon as she moves to town, Rachel gets a job as a waitress at Central Perk, taking her first step towards financial independence. Two years later, she takes a leap of faith and quits the waitress, thinking her dream job is just an interview away. But after sending out resumes and cover letters to every company she can think of, Rachel receives rejection letters from all but one — one that turns out to be all about making coffee for her boss. Instead of going back to Central Perk and giving up, Rachel persists and ends up meeting the right person at the right time with the right connections, and lands an entry-level fashion job that propels her career in the right direction. even considering it took her two years to get her foot in the door.

Reality: You may have to work as a waitress for two years before you land your dream job.

Through seasons of struggle and success, Friends accurately represents the reality of finding employment in New York’s most competitive industries. It’s not just Rachel who has to work as a waiter – despite having different career goals, Monica and Joey do it too, and every character is unemployed at some point in the series. Rachel’s reality is shared by many: for every designer or brand looking for someone to fill a vacancy, there are hundreds of other qualified influencers, bloggers and Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) graduates who jump at the opportunity. To stand out, you need to do more than just be interested in fashion and shopping. Not only does Rachel drag herself to seminars (where Ross falls asleep), but she constantly hustle and sacrifice her nights, weekends, and relationships, working her way up to the top management of Ralph Lauren.

Waiting: It’s easy to afford a 1,500 square foot two-bedroom apartment in the West Village.

During Monica and Rachel’s time as waitresses, they are still able to afford the rent for their two-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment, complete with a full-size kitchen, living room, balcony, and ample storage space. storage to store everything. Rachel’s “one hundred and forty-seven thousand pairs of boots.” Conveniently located in the West Village, and more than roomy enough for two barcaloungers, it’s no wonder Monica and Rachel had such a hard time relying on Joey and Chandler.

Reality: The West Village is one of Manhattan’s most expensive neighborhoods.

Probably the only specific part about apartment living in Friends is the fact that they all live with roommates until their twenties. Lower Manhattan is one of the most expensive places to live in the city, and any apartment Monica and Rachel could afford wouldn’t be quite as spacious — Joey and Chandler’s is a much more accurate representation of that. Although Monica explains that her apartment has been under rent control ever since she started subletting it illegally to her grandmother, that’s hardly the case for the majority of New Yorkers. If living in New York is your dream, you’ll need to plan and save wisely, embrace the roommate lifestyle, and probably choose a neighborhood outside of the Village.

Waiting: You will never need a car.

To celebrate his 30th birthday, Ross buys himself a red MGB sports car, pretending to be a sports car enthusiast despite not even knowing the horsepower of the one he just bought. Spending all day trying to get out of a tight parking spot and failing, Ross’ car proves impractical around town, and he decides it would be best to sell it, just as Monica had predicted.

Reality: You will never need a car.

Friends succeeds this one – driving a car in the city is useless. Not only is traffic and parking in New York the worst, but taking the subway is just so much more convenient and cost effective. Don’t be intimidated by maps and colors, the city is easy to explore on foot or by train – street names that end in “Street”, such as 42nd Street, run east to west, while street names Street signs that end in “Avenue,” like Lexington Avenue, run north to south, so you’ll always know which way you’re going.

Waiting: Brooklyn is a good place to buy designer clothes at a discount.

To buy Monica’s wedding dress at a bargain price, Monica, Rachel and Phoebe travel to Brooklyn to find her. Wedding dress outlet prices are so unbeatable that shopping for them escalates into Black Friday hysteria.

Reality: Second-hand shopping in Brooklyn is more like luxury vintage shopping.

While Monica’s wedding dress adventure may have accurately represented shopping in Brooklyn in the 90s, Brooklyn isn’t what it once was. Williamsburg is full of hipsters wearing what looks like second-hand clothes, but were probably bought at full price at an Urban Outfitters or luxury vintage boutique. If you want to look like fashion executive Rachel, but only have the budget for Rachel’s cafe, the best place to shop is a Bloomingdale’s outlet or an L Train Vintage, both of which have locations all over New York City, not just Brooklyn. .

Waiting: You can always find someone who will be there for you.

Season after season, Friends proves that there’s always at least one person in New York who knows exactly what you’re going through. From the moment Rachel wanders Central Perk, lost and confused, she is offered a cup of decaffeinated coffee, a place to live, and five more friends who are there for her at every step of her journey through city life. It’s right there in the theme song, “I’ll be there for you (when the rain starts to fall), I’ll be there for you (like I’ve been there before), I’ll be there for you (because you’re there for me too).

Reality: You can always find someone who will be there for you.

As Monica describes when she reluctantly welcomes Rachel as a roommate, New Yorkers cherish their boundaries, often initially appearing cold and distant. But if the show’s friendships are to be believed, the sense of community in New York is unlike any other, and it’s one that Friends represents well. You might have annoying neighbors, like Mr. Heckles or the guy who shouts “Morning’s Here” through his open window every morning, but your life will still be filled with Joeys and Chandlers across the hall. If there is a reason to love the city, it is only for this one.