What is the Deal…with Sitcom Houses?

07.28.08 | 10 Comments

So, after I wrote the title, it occurred to me that there aren’t enough sitcoms still on the air. I mean why don’t we see those classic “taped in front of a live studio audience” type shows anymore…well that’s another article for another day. Today, we must explore our nostalgia-filled memory to a better day in the 80’s and 90’s when sitcoms ruled our world. And while Urkel was snorting and Cody was saying…”WOAH DUDE” and Dr. Huxtable was ad-libbing his way into our hearts, I was paying more attention to details beyond the plot lines because…well that’s what I do. Kids, I present to you,

What…is…the deal with sitcom houses?

If you know anything about TV at all, you know that the first shot they show as the sitcom is starting is called the “establishing shot.” This tells you that the following action will take place in this fake house front or random house we’ve found and taken a picture of. The show itself is filmed on a sound stage. Call me a stickler for detail, but many of the stages were not built to represent the houses shown in the establishing shot.

Exhibit A: The Cosby Show

So, in this GROUNDBREAKING series, a well-to-do, African-American family has a doctor and a lawyer bringing home the Bacon (pun intended). So where do they put them…In da Hood! At least, all the outside shots lead us to believe that this wasn’t the worst, but by no means a nice New York neighborhood.

As far as consistency from establishing shot to inside, I’ll give em credit for making the front stoop look pretty darn realistic from the inside, but what about the rest of this palatial palace. This looks like a town house-type home from the outside, but get in there and boy what a place! Just off to the right there is a huge staircase to the upstairs, and just below that is a Cosby Cave of sorts where Dr. Huxtable often goes to meet patients. Where the hell does that little nook come in here. It appears as if nothing would be to the right here, except for someone else’s crib.

Plus wrap your mind around this one…the back door went from the kitchen directly to the backyard (as if they had one in this type of house) AND they also had a large basement underneath the kitchen (again not too likely in this house) but it had a door to the outside too! How the hell does that work. I guess anything’s possible with Jello Pudding.

The Huxtable pad also had a feature that just about every sitcom house I can remember had, but rarely any house in real life.

Ok, raise your hand if you had a set of stairs to the second floor in the front and back of your house…Shut up Dilz…you don’t count. Why must all sitcom families mock us with this, “I can get to the kitchen faster” element. Boy I’d like to be able to grab a Hogie from the fridge without passing through the den…or sneak out of the house like Mike seaver could do…that is before he lived above the garage. Think about it…if you can think of a sitcom house that didn’t have a staircase to or near to the kitchen, I’d like to know.

Exhibit 2 and heif:  Full House

Ok, now on to one of my favorites. I am mostly impressed by the effort here. For example the three story appearance would lend itself to the living room, bedrooms, Jesse and Becky’s attic floor plan, so kudos for that. Also, in the room two of the girls shared, they have a bay window, which as you see is part of these San Francisco domiciles. Here is where the problems arise. In the original episodes, before Joey or the recording studio moved down in the “basement,” that area was used as a garage…Now being that it was below the kitchen…where a car was once driven through the window from flat ground…how did the car get to the garage? On top of that, how did a car 1) get behind the house (I think in some episodes they had a side drive way…that’s wrong here) 2) How is the ground behind the house level with the first floor, when the front door has 10 or so steps.

Everywhere you look, everywhere you look, There’s a flaw, there’s a flaw, Found by Bacon!

While we’re talking about cars smashing through windows, anybody remember Eddie Winslow crashing through the front of the house on Family Matters?

Glance behind that logo and tell me how that happened. Must have been some off-roading going on.  Oooh Eddie you’re in trouble.  If I was him, I’d have run upstairs and hid. If Carl tried to find me, I’d run down the back stairs and out through the kitchen. You don’t want to turn up missing like their youngest daughter. Where DID she go anyway?

The problems with sitcom homes didn’t end with just houses, oh no…apartments are an issue as well.

Exhibit sh55: Friends

Yup, looks like a typical New York hell hole…and I would buy this one being real if it was just based on Chandler and Joey’s original digs

Except for the fact that the windows face that way, and the stairs in the hallway go that way too…I could buy that this apartment is in that building. But then, you go across the hall in the same damn building and see Monica and Rachael’s luxury apartment. No wonder they always hung out there. Compared to what’s across the hall, theirs is a damn castle.

What apartment building has floor plans like that right next to each other? And is that a window behind the sink? Where does that look into the bathroom? The hallway?

Ok maybe I’m just picky…or maybe I just wish somehow I could have climbed into a clock to go to my room and then come back down in a secret elevator to the kitchen like Webster.

All I know is that now you know the deal with sitcom houses.


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