Created By: Wheezy on February 28, 2011 Last Edited By: XFllo on February 25, 2014
Troped

Roommate Com (Young People in the City)

Young quirky people live in the city with their friends and date a lot

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Trope
"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 and Seinfeld), 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.

Examples:

Comic Books
  • 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.

Comic Strips
  • 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.

Live-Action TV
  • 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.

Webcomic
  • 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.

Western Animation
  • 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.

Community Feedback Replies: 54
  • February 28, 2011
    Wheezy
  • March 1, 2011
    foxley
  • March 1, 2011
    Arivne
  • March 1, 2011
    HerBN12
    How I Met Your Mother
  • March 1, 2011
    DaibhidC
    • Comic strip example: Apartment 3-G
    • Fictional comic strip example: City Dwellers, Kyle Rayner's strip in Feast Magazine in The DCU.
  • March 1, 2011
    randomsurfer
  • March 1, 2011
    Scathien
    • Real World
  • September 30, 2011
    Wheezy
  • October 1, 2011
    TonyG
  • February 18, 2012
    Catbert
    Anyone still working on this? This is a good idea but it needs something more than Zero Context Example.
  • February 26, 2012
    TBeholder
    Roommates Series?
  • February 26, 2012
    randomsurfer
    The Single Guy. Young man living in New York City. He lives alone, while he has two sets of married friends, one with a babay. 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.
  • February 26, 2012
    surgoshan
  • February 26, 2012
    mdulwich
    Spaced: Two thirty-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).
  • November 7, 2013
    XFllo
    YKTTW Bump. I think this draft has potential, but it needs lots of work. The examples need context.

    I like the suggestion for Roommates Series as a trope title.
  • November 21, 2013
    XFllo
    There are many Zero Context Examples. Anyone willing to provide the context? I wrote some, though they might need some polishing.
  • November 24, 2013
    Tzintzuntzan
    This trope seems to have peaked in the 1990s (thanks to the Follow The Leader trend of Friends and Seinfeld), but there's a few more recent examples. It's big enough to have been parodied at least twice:

    • 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.
    • In The Comeback, the Show Within A Show is 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.")
  • November 24, 2013
    Wheezy
    I was the OP, but I'd forgotten about this one entirely. I'll add context for some of them.
  • November 26, 2013
    XFllo
    ^ Hope you don't might I became a temporary trope sponsor when I saw no activity. I changed the working title (can be swapped back of course) and added some examples plus the context. Now it's fully yours again.

    ^^ Added your examples and extended the trope description.
  • December 20, 2013
    kjnoren
    Can the Fantastic Four be viewed as a proto-example? I'm not that familiar with the comic, but as I understand it a large part of the early stories were about the everyday living and dynamics of the four.
  • December 20, 2013
    JohnnyCache
    When I saw the trope name, I immediately thought of The Odd Couple. The series lacks many of the features you've put in the description, so perhaps they would be the Unbuilt Trope version of this.
  • December 23, 2013
    lakija
  • December 23, 2013
    Earnest
    See also Monster Roommate, when this trope and Science Fiction / Fantasy intersect.
  • December 24, 2013
    Chabal2
  • January 26, 2014
    XFllo
    Please add no more Zero Context Examples. These need some elaboration.

    Taken from the draft and the discussion.

    Anime And Manga

    Comics
    • Scott Pilgrim: mixed with action and nerd culture.
    • Fantastic Four might be viewed as a proto-example. A large part of the early stories were about the everyday living and dynamics of the four. [Needs to be confirmed.]

    Comic Strips

    Live Action TV

    Theatre
    • The Odd Couple. The play and the series lack many of the features in the description. Unbuilt Trope version? [Needs to be confirmed.]

    Webcomics

    Western Animation

  • January 27, 2014
    robinjohnson
  • January 27, 2014
    robinjohnson
    Maybe there should be a separate section for invocations, subversions, in-universe references and so on? Like this one:
    • 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.
  • January 29, 2014
    XFllo
    ^ I think they can be listed together. I don't much like pages with separate lists, but that might be just my opinion. :-)

    ^^ I'm adding the first into the list of ZCE. The second could use more explanation about those characters too.
  • January 30, 2014
    Prfnoff
    The Odd Couple, at least the play (and movie), has only Felix and Oscar living together, with neither being that young (both are divorced men).
  • January 30, 2014
    BaffleBlend
    ((Edited out for the sake of avoiding personal embarrassment.))
  • January 30, 2014
    XFllo
    ^^ So it doesn't really fit?

    ^ Zero Context Example plus minor Word Cruft. See How To Write An Example. Thanks for elaborating on your example. :-)
  • January 30, 2014
    BaffleBlend
    • 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.
  • January 30, 2014
    Larkmarn
    Compare Dom Com, which usually stars people living in the suburbs in a later stage of life.
  • January 31, 2014
    TrustBen
    Per XFillo adding context for a couple of commented-out examples:
    • Will And Grace: The show revolves around the eponymous 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 and 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.

    • Apartment Three 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 since Status Quo Is God something always derails it.
  • February 2, 2014
    xfllo
    Launch soon? I'm willing to do it if ther are no mojor objections.
  • February 2, 2014
    DAN004
    Launch plz.
  • February 2, 2014
    XFllo
    Let's wait a bit.
  • February 4, 2014
    Larkmarn
    Scrubs is a Work Com first and foremost. It has a couple base elements with this, but isn't really an example.

    Would it make sense to name this Roommate Com or maybe Room Com to match Sit Com, Dom Com, Rom Com, Work Com, etc.? At the very least I don't like the "series" part of the name because it seems like it's specifically about a live-action TV show.

    • 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.
    • 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.
    • Scott Pilgrim opens as a fairly traditional version of this, 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.
    • 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.
  • February 4, 2014
    XFllo
    ^ Ooh, I think I like Roommate Com better than Series.

    Examples were added and I took off Scrubs from the list.

  • February 5, 2014
    XFllo
    Ideas for the trope name (so far):

  • February 5, 2014
    Larkmarn
    I like Young People In The City a lot, actually. I guess it does sound like chairs, though, so it's probably not a good title.

    There are going to be so many Live Action TV examples I'd recommend alphabetizing them.

    • 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. IM Db'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.
  • February 6, 2014
    Larkmarn
    FYI Mission Hill is Western Animation, not Live Action TV. I should've made that more clear.
  • February 6, 2014
    XFllo
    ^^ I must have overlooked the namespace. BTW, anyone can edit the draft... :-)
  • February 7, 2014
    robinjohnson
    I like Roommate Com.
  • February 16, 2014
    XFllo
    Roommate Com seems to have support.
  • February 22, 2014
    XFllo
    We've reached five hats again. I'd like to launch it soon as Roommate Com. Young People In The City and Roommate Series could be redirects.

    Any final comments?
  • February 22, 2014
    Larkmarn
    Launch the sumbitch.
  • February 22, 2014
    xanderiskander
    Just a quick question before it launches. Would characters rooming together in a college dorm count?
  • February 23, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ Cuz then Rw By should count :D
  • February 23, 2014
    XFllo
    Hm, I think if the work set in college focuses on dating and partying rather than classes and students' duties, then I would say yes, these count too.
  • February 23, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ Oops, then Rwby shouldn't count :p
  • February 25, 2014
    Noah1
  • February 25, 2014
    hbi2k
    • 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.
  • February 25, 2014
    axelsonfire
    To elaborate on the Threes Company example, the show 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.
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