Real Life on Screen: Film & TV Characters with Refreshingly Relatable Apartments

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: Comedy Central)

Often our favorite television series and films showcase dreamy apartments that are quite unrealistic for the characters who inhabit them. You know, the ones where your quintessential broke 20-something somehow affords to live in the lap of luxury despite being in financial ruin? That said, here are five TV and movie characters with practical, realistic apartments that look like mine and yours. Finally, a break from all the apartment envy.

Abbi and Illana from Broad City (above)

Abbi and Illana are the queens — or kweens, as they’d prefer — of being young and broke in New York City. By day, they pursue whatever scheme Illana has cooked up and by night, they live in apartments that actually reflect their meager budgets. Abbi, the less lucky of the two, lives with a girl who’s never around but whose freeloading boyfriend never leaves. While her place is brightly decorated with housewares likely from the Urban Outfitters clearance section (and she puts her stash of Bed, Bath, and Beyond coupons to good use, of course), her living room and barely-there kitchen space are overtaken by “Bevers” who eats all her food and plays video games on the couch 24/7. Her only solace comes from running into her hunky next door neighbor, Jeremy.

Enid and Becca from Ghost World

In this cult classic based on the beloved comic book of the same name, cynical best friends Enid and Becca have just graduated high school and between mocking people in their small town and commiserating in their nihilist thoughts at the local diner, they get their first apartment. It’s drab, it’s kitsch (can you say Kool-Aid colored carpeting?), it’s what a first apartment for two penniless teens should look like.

Peggy Olson from Mad Men

The industrious secretary-turned-copywriter-turned-copy-chief Peggy Olson moves up residence-wise as well during the course of seven seasons of Mad Men. She goes from living with her mother, to living with her boyfriend, to eventually becoming the landlord of an entire building. But even the latter setup isn’t glamorous. She lives alone save for the little boy who comes up to use her TV in the summertime and her decor puts the “humble” in humble abode. Her apartment is definitely livable but it’s the opposite of the sleek numbers her co-workers inhabit. Still, there’s nothing like a room of one’s own.

(Image credit: The Future movie)

Sophie and Jason from The Future

The majority of Miranda July’s second feature film, The Future, takes place inside a 30-something couple’s Los Angeles home as they navigate their relationship and prepare to take in an injured cat. Rather than putting viewers through 90 minutes of apartment envy, the film offers an unassuming space that is pleasant but so unapologetically average-looking. Pastel cloth strips serve as a makeshift bedroom curtain and nondescript items hang in random parts of the home (e.g. the pair of binoculars hanging from a light fixture).

(Image credit: Miramax Films)

Dante Hicks from Clerks

Clerks opens memorably in Dante Hicks’ bedroom. A call from his boss sends a sleeping Dante tumbling out of his closet, slamming into the edge of his bed, which is less than a foot away. He’s been asked to cover a shift at work — despite having closed the night before — and the camera pans to show us the contents of his room that prove his job is far too exhausting for him to make time for interior design. Dante’s bed is adorned with nothing more than a fitted sheet and a panting dog. His landline phone rests on his laundry hamper, which has vomited out most of his clothes onto the floor, and the walls are barren. A believable portrayal of an overworked convenience store clerk’s bedroom — even if he is a hip character in an indie black and white film.