In television, the setting of a show is one of the main methods of communicating a message. Whether the show is a classic drama, a modern sitcom, or something in-between, the place that the characters call home gives a distinct feel to the show.
One of the classic settings for a TV show centers around an apartment that a main character calls home. Though there are a fair amount of not-so-great apartments – like in 2 Broke Girls, or Marnie’s tiny studio from Girls – many of the residences depicted in the most famous shows are incredibly spacious and luxurious.
In fact, occasionally one might wonder how they can even afford such high-end apartments with, say, a part-time waitressing job. That’s an exaggeration of course, but the point stands. Either way, the setting of the show sets the feel of every scene. Even though the apartment tends to fade away into the background when our favorite actors and actresses are on-screen, it still has a distinct effect on how the entire show operates.
Some of the best TV show apartments are luxurious, spacious, tastefully-decorated – the works. They are inhabited by a variety of characters with many different jobs. Plus, they often play host to roommates. In a sitcom, this means plenty of opportunity for banter. But what are some of the best apartments ever shown on TV? Well, read on to find out in our list of the Top Twenty TV Show Apartments in History.
Mad About You – Paul and Jamie’s Apartment
Mad About You was a popular sitcom that ran on NBC from 1992 to 1999. The two main characters – Paul Buchman (a documentary filmmaker) and his wife, Jamie (a public relations specialist) – can find comedy in both daily occurrences and major struggles. The two live in a gorgeous Manhattan apartment on 5th Avenue and 12th Street in Manhattan. The apartment itself (actually a product of a Culver Studios set) was a spacious, tastefully-decorated setting for this show. It included a huge kitchen, living room, and dining room, and bathroom. Paul and Jamie Buchanan must have been paying a fortune for this place. Good thing they both hold pretty lucrative jobs.
Seinfeld – Jerry’s Apartment
This legendary comedy ran for nine seasons on NBC (from 1989 to 1998). It featured a cast of characters alongside the titular Jerry Seinfeld – who played a fictionalized version of himself. The show was mostly set in an Upper West Side apartment building in New York City. Seinfeld is responsible for many of the comedy tropes that we still see today.
Jerry’s apartment is a pretty nice abode. It boasts a huge window overlooking NYC, a lot of comfortable furniture, plenty of decorations, and many other nice features. Besides this apartment playing host to one of the most legendary sitcoms of all time, it is also the first set to have been recreated in Virtual Reality on the Oculus Rift device.
What I Like About You – Valerie and Holly’s Crib
The two sisters – older sister Valerie Tyler and teenaged Holly – in What I Like About You were a great pair in this show. The sitcom ran from 2002 to 2006, with four seasons and 86 episodes produced overall. It mostly took place in New York City, centering around the sisters’ two-story Manhattan apartment. The entire place must have been worth millions. With the sunken kitchen, huge windows, sophisticated décor, and the two-story layout, this apartment was a perfect spot to watch the Tyler sisters bond. Plus, the sweet iron arches and brick layout of the stairs to the second story was both modern and a callback to past times at once. This apartment’s spot on this top twenty list is well deserved.
Gossip Girl – Chuck Bass and Nate Archibald’s Penthouse Suite
Gossip Girl, based on the book series of the same name, is one of the quintessential American teen drama series. It aired on The CW for six seasons, from 2007 to 2012. The show itself follow the dramatic interactions between a group of upper-class adolescents from the Upper East Side of Manhattan. The nicest dwelling on the show is definitely Chuck and Nate’s penthouse suite. It has a pool table, two bedrooms, an understated (yet luxurious) sense of décor, and many more amenities. It’s not surprising that this place is so nice, as it is the best room at the Empire Hotel – a real hotel in NYC (though the suite was just a set in Queens).
Master of None – Dev’s Apartment
This Netflix-exclusive comedy follows the romantic, cultural, and professional life of Dev Shah. This character, played by Aziz Ansari, is a 30-year-old actor who mostly does commercials. Most notably, a Go-Gurt commercial that helped him to achieve recognition in the series. Dev’s apartment has an eclectic vibe, mostly due to the sentimental modernism that is displayed through the décor. The design of the set was created by Emmy-winning Amy Williams. She took every bit of knowledge she had about the character and show into consideration. For example, she looked at hundreds of couches before making her choice. She believes that one’s furniture can say a lot about who they are as a person.
That Girl – Ann Marie’s Place
This classic sitcom from ABC, which ran from 1966 to 1971, starred Marlo Thomas as an aspiring actress who moves to New York City. The show was notable for being one of the first to depict a single woman who did not rely on anyone but herself to make it in the world. This was a significant departure from popular culture at the time. Ann stayed in an Upper East Side apartment during the show, living in an elegant apartment. It has a lot of expensive-looking decorations (particularly some of the vases) – which is surprising, as Ann Marie is only sporadically-employed during the show. She ends up working a lot of temp jobs just to get by. However, the apartment matches her personality quite well – even if it is a bit eclectic.
How I Met Your Mother – The Apartment
This sitcom, aired on CBS from 2005 to 2014, was one of the most popular sitcoms in the 21st-century. How I Met Your Mother starts off with the main character Ted Mosby telling his son and daughter about the events that led him to meet their mother. The show has an eccentric sense of humor, a structure that stands out from other sitcoms, and even incorporates elements of drama. The main apartment in How I Met Your Mother has been the home of Ted Mosby and many other main characters. Not only is the place itself nice and spacious, it has a prime location right above MacLaren’s Pub. The building itself is located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, right across from the 86th street subway entrance. As far as we can tell, this apartment is probably technically located on 85th street (one episode shows 150 W. 85th Street as the address of MacLaren’s Pub).
The Mary Tyler Moore Show – Mary’s Space
The Mary Tyler Moore Show was a sitcom featuring an independent, career-driven woman who was never married. This was incredibly rare for the time that the show was released (1970-1977). However, it ended up being one of the best television shows of all time, receiving multiple Emmy awards. Plus, the Writers Guild of America ranked the show as the 6th Best Written TV Series of All Time. Mary Richards’ famous pad was located on the top floor of a Victorian house in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She had a lot of space and a great view from the bay windows. Of course, the actual filming was done on a set. The exterior footage was shot of a real house in Minneapolis. This residence became such a popular tourist destination that the owner ended up hanging an “Impeach Nixon” banner to discourage additional exterior shots of her home. This home was on sale at the time of Mary Tyler Moore’s death in January, 2017.
Friends – Monica’s Apartment
Friends is a legendary sitcom, and one of the places that some of our biggest stars got their starts. It aired from 1994 to 2004, ten years and ten seasons. The show was nominated for many awards – including 62 Emmy Awards. Plus, it won the Outstanding Comedy Series Emmy during its eighth season. Friends follows a group of six friends who live in Manhattan, and focuses on their banter and jokes rather than overarching plotlines. The main dwelling in the series was Monica’s apartment. Every member of the cast had lived here for at least a short amount of time. Her abode is distinctly chic – the walls are purple, providing a great contrast with the colors of the furniture. Plus, there are some great views from the huge windows, not to mention a spacious kitchen. The entire apartment is tied together by the open floor plan, which makes the already-luxurious space even better.
The Jeffersons – Deluxe Apartment in the Sky
This sitcom, the second-longest-running series to feature a cast that is primarily African-American, ran for 11 seasons, 253 episodes, and 10 years from 1975 to 1985. It is notable for being the first sitcom to feature an interracial couple prominently. The show focuses on George and Louise Jefferson, who have “moved on up” to Upper East Side Manhattan after George’s dry-cleaning business takes off. Their apartment, located at 185 East 85th Street in a high-rise building, offered some pretty incredible views of the area. Plus, it is one of the only apartments that could have feasibly been purchased by the family in the show. At the time, prices in NYC were low – this 3-bedroom could have been had for as little as $150,000. Either way, it served as an excellent backdrop to the comedy classic.
New Girl – The Loft
New Girl, starring Zooey Deschanel as the titular new girl, premiered on Fox in 2011. It is a sitcom that combines comedy and drama, focusing on how the characters deal with adult life and their careers. The show starts off with Jess (Zooey Deschanel) moving into a loft in Los Angeles, that was already inhabited by three men. The loft itself is huge, and lets a lot of light in through the windows. The décor is functional but aesthetically-brilliant (and was clearly designed with detail in mind). The building they use for the real exterior shots is actually a commercial building, with the indoor scenes taken on a set. The loft is a great central location for this show, and is almost a character on its own.
Mad Men – The Draper Residence
The period drama Mad Men is set in the 1960s, and follows the events surrounding the Sterling Cooper and Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce advertising agencies, as well as the personal lives of their employees. The show received an Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series – the first basic cable show to do so. It is often seen as one of the best TV shows of all time. Don Draper, one of the executives at both advertising agencies, lives in an amazing Park Avenue apartment. It has a sunken living room, a patio with a great view of the city, multiple bedrooms, and a crazy amount of space. Plus, all of the furniture within is some of the best vintage examples that money could buy. The successful executive had great taste in interior design too (or at least, the set designer did).
Sex and the City – Carrie’s Apartment
Darren Star and HBO’s Sex and the City, based on a book of the same name by Candace Bushnell, follows the lives of four inseparable friends as they deal with the various trials of life. The show has been critically-acclaimed, and even has been deemed the primary catalyst for HBO’s success. Plus, the show has won seven Emmys, eight Golden Globes, and three Oscars (for the spin-off movies). Sometimes called the fifth main character, Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment was small but full of life. It played host to so many memorable interactions between the main characters, that the apartment itself really faded away. Of course, the interior scenes were shot on a set. But the real apartment can be found at 66 Perry Street in New York City (in the West Village, not the Upper East Side). It is so popular to visit the location that several signs have been placed to discourage people from littering, being loud, or invading the privacy of the homeowners. Plus, a chain has been stretched across the stairs.
The Big Bang Theory – Leonard and Sheldon’s Place
A successful sitcom that follows the lives of five close friends, The Big Bang Theory has been providing us with laughs since 2007. Leonard, Sheldon, Raj, and Howard were the original group of four, and then Penny was brought into the group soon after the first episode. Later additions (like Amy and Bernadette) also were included, making this one of the best-cast television shows in modern history. Leonard and Sheldon are both professional physicists at Caltech. They share an apartment – a two-bedroom, one-bathroom space with an awesome view from a raised window, as well as a ton of space. What makes this apartment one of the best, however, is the sheer amount of sci-fi and fantasy memorabilia you can see all over the shelves and bookcases. It really fits the characters of Leonard and Sheldon, as well as their friends Raj and Howard – and is a great juxtaposition to the relative seriousness of Penny, Amy, and Bernadette.
I Love Lucy – The Ricardo Residence
I Love Lucy is one of those classic American sitcoms. It has a distinct 50s flavor, especially when you consider the relatively clean nature of the jokes and situations. Plus, the show – which followed the interactions of Lucy and Ricky Ricardo, as well as Fred and Ethel Mertz – was the first to be shot on 35mm film in front of a studio audience. In won several Emmy awards and was nominated many times. Lucy and Ricky’s apartment is decorated with a classic 50s sense. It has it all – frills on the cupboard, frills in the bedroom – really, it has frills all over. The apartment is one of the most recognizable due to its status as one of the original sitcom locations. The show may have reinforced some of the stereotypes of the 1950s, but it also broke a few barriers as well, such as depicting interracial marriage.
Frasier – Frasier and Martin Crane’s Place
NBC sitcom Frasier ran for eleven seasons from 1993 to 2004. It was actually created as a spin-off of Cheers, following the story of psychiatrist Frasier Crane. He returned to Seattle to build a new life, and this series shows what happens when he does. Frasier eventually takes in his father so he can care for him. Luckily, he has the space. The Crane residence boasts killer views of Seattle, a lot of space (enough room for a grand piano), and a good mix of classical and contemporary stylings. The apartment also is kitted with nice artwork and designer furniture, giving it a solid position on our top twenty list.
Will and Grace – Will’s Digs
This show had its initial run from 1998 to 2006 on NBC, and returned to the air in 2017 on the same network. Will and Grace is a sitcom, focusing on the relationship between Grace Adler (an interior designer) and Will Truman (a gay lawyer). Much of the show takes place in Will’s apartment, which Grace moved into during the pilot. The apartment itself is pretty large, and has a solid amount of space to serve as the backdrop for this comedy. It is a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment with views of Central Park. The décor is understated, yet elegant. It is a great location for this classic comedy.
Glee – Kurt & Rachel’s Apartment
Glee aired on Fox from 2009 to 2015, and is a musical comedy/drama series that focuses on the William McKinley High School glee club (the New Directions). It follows an altering main cast throughout the series, though singing and music always serves a central role. It was well-received critically, but ended after one of the actors involved died. The Bushwick apartment that Kurt and Rachel moved into during the fourth season of Glee. It is a huge, open space in a warehouse-like building that serves as an excellent creative studio for those who stay there. The apartment has all wood floors and a classic styling, making it a very comfortable place for Kurt, Rachel, and later tenants to let their creativity flow.
The Odd Couple – Felix and Oscar’s Apartment
This 70s sitcom was extremely popular during its run from 1970-1975. It centered around the lives of Felix Unger and Jack Klugman, two men who moved into the same apartment and proceeded to get into all sorts of comedic hijinks. The show had high ratings and was nominated for a few Emmys. The apartment that the two lived in was located in a 14-story red brick building on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. It was a three-bedroom apartment that was decorated in the contemporary style. It almost played its own role in the show, as the catalyst and reason for the interactions between Felix and Jack.
Family Affair – Bill Davis’ Place
Family Affair, a CBS sitcom that aired from 1966-1971, was about a wealthy engineer (Bill Davis) and how he attempted to take care of his brother’s orphaned kids. He and his butler (Giles French) had to make some serious adjustments to life with the three kids. Of course, it probably helped that the kids were in comfort. The apartment was massive, well-furnished, and decorated in a distinctively luxurious style. While his engineer’s salary may have payed for this apartment back in the 60s, a similar dwelling today would go for far more than it did back then. That aside, this apartment was a perfect setting for the classic sitcom, and was gorgeous to boot.