5 Things Netflix’s ‘Tuca & Bertie’ Gets Right About Renting

updated Jul 29, 2020
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Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

[Light spoilers for “Tuca & Bertie”]

A new Netflix series from the team behind “BoJack Horseman” deals heavily with themes like female friendship, anxiety, sobriety, and dealing with trauma—but it also gives a surprisingly detailed, real representation of renting in a city.

“Tuca & Bertie” stars Tiffany Haddish (Tuca) and Ali Wong (Bertie) as two birds in their early 30s who are going through some big life changes, especially revolving around their living situations. Speckle (Steven Yeun) is an architect and Bertie’s sweet, supportive boyfriend. Over the first season, these three characters experience some real ups and downs of being renters.

Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

Moving in with a partner

In the pilot episode, we see a story as old as time: Two best friends stop living together so one of them can move in with a partner instead. But when Tuca leaves to let Speckle in, we see the fallout not just with the two friends, but also with Speckle, who feels like an outsider in his own home. He has a single razor he can’t cram into Bertie’s cosmetics-filled medicine cabinet, and Bertie is reluctant to let him hang any of his own pictures. Anyone who has moved in with a partner has had to navigate some form of these waters.

Getting motivated to clean

Toward the end of the season, Tuca feels shamed into finally cleaning her apartment to appease her family. “They always gang up on me and make fun of how messy my apartment is,” she complains. To get pumped to fix the problem she listens to an episode of a podcast called “Clean Your Crap!” The show offers advice like, “start small,” and getting rid of things that don’t fill you with “elation and happy memories,” which feels like a real Marie Kondo nod. Catching up on podcasts is the only silver lining to cleaning for me, so I get it.

Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

Decor choices

The show tells us a lot about the two main characters by showing us how they choose to decorate. Bertie’s apartment is rife with cupcake (and other baked goods) art prints and has a clean kitchen. We get the sense that Tuca didn’t have a lot while she lived there with Bertie, because her vacancy somehow doesn’t free up much space for her boyfriend. Tuca’s new place, on the other hand, is already a messy disaster, complete with a stolen street sign, posters taped to the wall, lava lamp, and a basketball hoop. She keeps her sneakers in the fridge, which maybe is fine, since she’s not doing the level of baking Bertie is.

Unexpected drop-ins from maintenance

In an episode where Bertie is home alone, her private, living room exercise class is interrupted when a service man shows up unannounced, with no prior notice from her landlord. A plumber knocks, but then enters the apartment using his own key, which he makes a point of reminding Bertie he has, at all times. He corners her in the kitchen and asks if she has a boyfriend despite her protests about feeling uncomfortable. This storyline especially speaks to me, as someone who has also lived alone and felt extremely anxious when a big repair dude waltzed into my apartment when he thought I wasn’t home.

Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

Getting overwhelmed with house hunting

The last thing the show appears to nail is just how overwhelming beginning the process of finding a house can be. While Speckle is on board with plenty of remodeling blueprints and a yen to feel settled, Bertie balks. It’s all fun and games at first, to “daydream and then go home and binge on interior design shows until I feel sick!” (FYI, examples of such shows in the Tuca and Bertie universe naturally include “Property Pelicans,” “Flip or Fly,” and “Nest Hunters International”). However, when the time comes to sit down and learning about what a 30-year fixed mortgage means, she realizes she’s not ready. As she puts it, “For me, sometimes making a big decision feels like closing a door.” The couple decides to keep renting for a little while longer instead.