"There apparently exists... a computer that generates concepts for sitcoms. When TV executives need a new concept, they turn on the computer; after sorting through millions of possible plot premises, it spits out, 'THREE QUIRKY BUT ATTRACTIVE YOUNG PEOPLE LIVING IN AN APARTMENT.' We need to locate this computer and destroy it with hammers."
Threre are three to six young people living in an apartment (or seperate apartments) in The City
- either New York
or the creator's hometown
- usually abusing rent control
, spending way more money on food and clothes than normal
, going to work for about an hour a season
, and talking endlessly about their relationships
. At least one of them will be gay. At least one more will be in a crappy band.
This trope seems to have peaked in the 1990s (thanks to the Follow the Leader
trend of Friends
), but there are some earlier examples and the format has been popular ever since.
By far the largest subgenre of Slice of Life
- especially in webcomics, where it tends to overlap with Two Gamers on a Couch
and Journal Comics
- and a formidable chunk of sitcoms.
Compare to Dom Com
, which usually stars people living in the suburbs in a later stage of life. Compare/contrast with Monster Roommate
which is its sci-fi/fantasy counterpart.
- Scott Pilgrim opens as a fairly traditional version, being about Scott and his cool gay roommate Wallace as Scott has a comic love life and hangs out with the people in his band. However, things swiftly take a turn for the surreal every time a fight breaks out and Scott has to battle his love interest's evil exes in order to date her.
- Apartment 3-G: The three main characters, Margo, Lu Ann and Tommie are all unmarried women sharing an apartment in New York City. A lot of storylines involve one or more of them finding men to settle down with, going as far as planning a wedding sometimes, but because of Status Quo Is God, something always derails it.
- Friends has a group of six best friends ever, three young women and three young men. Rachel moves in with Monica who lives across the hall from Joey and Chandler. They also hang out with Phoebe who lives with her grandma and Monica's divorced brother Ross. (The roommate sets were sometimes mixed during different seasons.) Chandler was supposed to be gay, but it was turned into a Running Joke that people assume he's gay. Joy is a crappy actor and Phoebe is a Cloud Cuckoo Lander who sings and plays the quitar abysmally.
- Seinfeld: Jerry's apartment is the meeting place for the gang, which includes his neighbor Kramer, friend George, and ex Elaine. One of the show's taglines is that it's "a show about nothing," as it's mostly just about watching these entertaining personalities play off one another.
- The Single Guy. A young man lives in New York City. He lives alone, while he has two sets of married friends, one with a baby. As originally pitched it was half of a pair of sitcoms to be shown back-to-back, along with The Single Gal. The only crossover character would be the doorman in the apartment building they both live in.
- The Big Bang Theory: Sheldon and Leonard are roommates and genius level physicists. They also hang out with fellow scientists and equally geeky and nerdy Howard and Raj. Penny, an attractive blonde, moves across the hall and becomes involved in their life. There are some elements of Work Com when the plot revolves around the guys' work or colleagues at Cal Tech university.
- How I Met Your Mother: Ted lives in New York with Marshall and Lily who have been together since college and get engaged in the pilot. Ted realizes he's ready to settle and goes on a quest for his soul mate. A womanizer Barney and Ted's gorgeous love interest Robin complete the group.
- Spaced: Two twenty-somethings sharing a flat in London, plus the various odd characters around them, with added pop-culture based surrealism. However, despite their improbably cheap flat, the depiction of their economic situation is pretty realistic (worries about jobs, no disposable income).
- New Girl: Jessica Day is a socially awkward young woman, fresh out of a break-up with her ex-boyfriend. She persuades a trio of men to let her move in with them.
- Girls: Four women in their early-to-mid-twenties live in New York City. Their life is depicted a bit more realistically, as their apartments are less glamorous than usual in fiction, some of them have shitty jobs, they have to rely on their parents' income (at least in part) and have almost no money.
- Sex and the City: The four women from New York are not actually room-mates and in their thirties, but otherwise the pattern fits very well — they date a lot and sleep around a lot, and most of the time they are seen at parties, shopping for shoes or having brunch together.
- The Columbo episode "Death Hits the Jackpot" has the murder victim living in an apartment where he has an endless supply of wacky neighbors (who keep dropping in after his murder) and a pet monkey.
- Parodied in The Comeback's Show Within a Show: a ghastly sitcom called "Room and Bored". It's about four young horny singles, but a washed-up older actress was brought into the show against the will of the screenwriters. They cast her as the disapproving "Aunt Sassy". (Typical Show Within a Show lines: "Aunt Sassy, can we keep these puppies?" — "Where you see puppies, I see Korean barbecue.")
- Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23 has this premise with its female protagonist spending most of her time trying to pick up guys and land a nice job despite her famous roomate's meddling.
- Men Behaving Badly starts off as a classic example, but becomes less so as the characters mature, and get stable relationships and real jobs.
- Will and Grace: The show revolves around the pair, Grace being Will's Last Het Romance. Both have girl/guy of the week dates, as well as a few more long-term relationships. Wacky building mate Jack falls more into the All Gays Are Promiscuous camp, although he has a stable boyfriend played by Dave Foley for a while. Grace's secretary Karen is also a Drop-In Character and goes through the dating pool a few times despite the fact that she's married to a very rich man at the start of the series.
- Happy Endings: Two of the characters, Brad and Jane, are married and never stray throughout the series, despite Jane being Bi the Way. Everyone else is single, and the impetus of the series is Alex leaving Dave at the altar, which temporarily makes things awkward for their friends. It also leaves them free to see other people (although they're back together in parts of S2 and 3.) Max goes through a lot of guys, as does Penny, although she's engaged for a big part of S3.
- The Real World is an invoked example. The creators essentially took the basic elements of this trope (group of 20-somethings living together in a nice apartment not doing much work but a lot of partying) and decided to film them without a script, thus birthing the Reality Show genre.
- The Golden Girls: Unusual in that the main foursome that live together are Cool Old Ladies. Many episodes concerned their love lives, and all four women, whether divorced or widowed, were portrayed as sexually active.
- Three's Company revolves around Jack Tripper and his two female roommates, Janet Wood and Chrissy Snow, who is later replaced by her cousin Cindy followed by Terri Allen. Their apartment is owned by married couple Mr. and Mrs. Roper, who later got their own sitcom and were replaced by Ralph Furley. Jack originally had to lie about his sexual orientation to Mr. Roper since Mr. Roper would not allow him to move in with the two women if he were straight.
- Peep Show begins with the typical Odd Couple setup: pot-smoking slacker (Jeremy) is roommates with serious office worker (Mark). Within the first few episodes it slowly becomes apparent that they and everyone else in their lives are all terrible, terrible people. Sometimes veers into Work Com territory when the plot involves Mark's coworkers, but the core of the show always comes back to the two roommates and their dysfunctional romantic lives.
- Questionable Content: The webcomic begins with 20-something Marten Reid and his AnthroPC Pintsize. The first "arc" has Marten and his buddy Steve hanging out at a bar, bitching about their love and work lives. Marten soon gets a roommate in Faye, and they form a group of True Companions along with Marten's OCD neighbor and Faye's coworkers.
- An episode of Duckman has Duckman run away from his family and live in an apartment with a group of friends called "The Gang", a parody of this sort of show, complete with studio-audience laughter every time they say something.
- Mission Hill is set in Mission Hill, a neighborhood in the fictional city of Cosmopolis starring 24 year-old Andy Hill, his eccentric roommates, their even more eccentric neighbors, and Country Mouse brother. IMDb's even describes it as the "misadventures of a group of disparate roomates who live in a hip neighbourhood in a major city" which couldn't summarize this trope any better if it tried.
- Regular Show focuses on two guys performing wacky hijinks while living in a rented house with their coworkers. Even with all of the supernatural happenings there, it ultimately always goes back to that premise.