"Oh, they live in a furniture showroom."In the Standardized Sitcom Housing that Dom Com families live in, things are always well organized, clean and tidy: no open books are ever left on the coffee table, and no shoes are ever sitting randomly by the front door, no clothes are strewn on the floor (unless Chekhov left them there). You'd almost think that they were living in a furniture store. Oh, sure, there'll be arguments about doing dishes or housework, and they may demonstrate this with excessive waste, or just allude to how messy it is. But beyond that, nothing clutters the place up, and the junk is at least in one place, out of the way — possibly in an Exploding Closet. Sometimes the place may be doused in grime and stains, but will still probably be free from mess. This is especially noticeable when the inhabitants are stated and shown to be lazy, slobbish, or disorganized. It's also more common in cartoons, as it takes a lot of effort to draw convincing clutter. In Live-Action TV, the actors still need to move about the set safely, and too much stuff can cause shooting errors quite easily. See also: "Friends" Rent Control, The Beautiful Elite, Hollywood Homely, Product Placement. Contrast with Men Can't Keep House. Compare Pottery Barn Poor and First World Problems. This does not include cases of people actually living in furniture stores.
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica has an unusual case of this. Mami's house in the TV airing was sparse and clean, like a student's apartment bought one piece at a time. Considering her situation, it's justified. She even apologises for how unready it is for guests. This might have only been due to the cost of drawing animated clutter, because the Blu-Ray release packs her house full of stuff. It still looks like a furniture store, just a higher-end one.
Films — Animation
- Rare animated aversion in Whisper of the Heart: Mr. Tsukishima is a librarian, Mrs. Tsukishima is a graduate student, and the family's tiny apartment is literally stuffed with books and papers. Even the elder sister moving out halfway through the film hardly makes a dent in the omnipresent clutter.
Films — Live-Action
- Pleasantville: the movie revolves around how perfect everything in Pleasantville is, though the plot eventually interferes.
- Used deliberately in Juno: The MacGuff and Bleeker houses are realistically average-looking, while Mark and Vanessa live an a pricey new development which Vanessa seems to have decorated with the merchandise from an entire Ikea. After she adopts the baby, however, her night table becomes appropriately cluttered.
Juno: Nothing's wrong, I'm just allergic to fine home furnishings.
- A satire of this trope is in Fight Club, complete with a catalog overlay.
- Played with in The Hobbit. In the main timeline, Bilbo's house is very clean with everything in place, showing how uptight and tidy he is. But sixty years later, Bag End noticeably has more books, and things scattered on the floors and tables, showing his Character Development.
- A literal example with The Room. The furniture was purchased from a thrift store display window and placed exactly as it was. Hence, none of the chairs face the television, and it does not look inhabited.
- In the 1997 informative video The Kids Guide to the Internet, the furniture is barely used and lines the walls around the room, with the computer dead-center. Sears HomeLife Furniture is thanked in the credits.
- Married... with Children: You'd think the Bundys would be absolute slobs, but apparently, their house is tidier than yours. Their empty kitchen might have prompted the joke that the Bundys never actually had food in their house, rather than Peg being a lazy housewife.
- Malcolm in the Middle averts this one and also hangs a lampshade on it: not only does their house seem to have the normal amount of mess that an average house would have, but after Francis invited his hoodlum friends over (who are so destructive that it only takes three of them to turn the house into the same kind of wreck one would expect from a Wild Teen Party), they even notice their house looks "too clean" after they manage to clear all the mess left behind. So, the boys dirty it up a bit.
- In Everybody Loves Raymond, despite mother-in-law Marie's constant digs about all the dirt and mess, Ray and Debra's house seems remarkably clean — just as clean, in fact, as neat-freak Marie's house (minus the plastic wrap on the furniture).
- In Monk, Adrian Monk's apartment is like this, but it's justified: Monk suffers from several neuroses, obsessive compulsive disorder and (among many many more phobias) a strong fear of germs and dirt. So not only is his apartment spotlessly clean, but he also gets jittery if any item is moved even a millimeter from where it's supposed to be, as happens whenever other people are in his apartment (aside maybe from Natalie, Sharona, or Captain Stottlemeyer).
- Played with on Sherlock:
- Averted with 221B Baker Street, which is strewn with so many utterly realistic items - everything from magazines stacked on the floor to grungy coffee cups left on the table to unpaid bills piling up near the phone - that you'd swear blind it was a real interior where people really lived instead of a specially built set on a soundstage. "Guys Are Slobs" is apparently the show's next biggest theme behind "mystery-solving".
- Irene Adler's house, on the other hand, invokes this trope, especially when she and Sherlock find themselves in an enormous pristine room, with what seems to be very little other than a posh sofa and a fireplace/mirror. Irene could keep rooms she entertains clients in as bare as possible to let them project their fantasies onto her and the environment. Or it could symbolize how empty and devoid of real connections her life is.
- Friends either averts or justifies this.
- Justified in the case of Monica and Rachel's apartment: Monica is a neat freak, and doesn't like people moving furniture around. However even the furniture is eclectic and mismatched, and the decorating (like the famous purple walls and frame over the door) are more homey than you see on most shows.
- When Rachel moves in with Phoebe, she goes overboard at Pottery Barn. Ross remarks that the living room now "looks like page 72 of the catalog."
- Joey and Chandler's apartment managed to accomplish looking much more lived-in and normal despite the general lack of clutter, though this was probably in part because of the colors used and that most of it looked assembled bit-by-bit rather than carefully arranged and bought all at once.
- Also averted when Joey briefly moves into his own apartment. While the apartment does have brand new furniture, the rest of the gang comments that the furniture is quite odd (such as a panther coffee table or a random white dog statue). Also, Joey ends up moving back in with Chandler after it's revealed he couldn't pay for the apartment or all of his brand new furniture.note
- Despite how many times it had been trashed by monsters, and what traumas or bizarre living arrangements the family are currently dealing with, the Summers' house of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is rarely less than spotless. This was lampshaded by the gang a couple of times in Season 6.
Anya: "This is a Slayer's house, why aren't there any weapons lying around?!"
- Seinfeld is excused since the title character is a neat freak, but it would have felt out of place otherwise, considering how "ordinary" the people are.
- The various Degrassi series do this far too often: especially in the earlier shows, every home looks exactly like a stage set. It wasn't until Degrassi: The Next Generation that we got to see messy rooms, and then it was only with characters who really demanded it (Emma and Peter literally live in the basement, complete with all the basement clutter, while Alex's mother is an alcoholic, abused wreck).
- Inverted on Black Books where the living space (also a place of business!) was unspeakably messy. There were molluscs on the pipes. There was a dead badger lying on the floor, presumably for days. One episode's plot was motivated by the fact that the main characters had to leave as the place was being professionally cleaned; two weeks later, it was back to its usual squalor. That episode ended with a piece of toast falling from the ceiling onto a character's head. And let's not forget the patch of sticky floor, intentionally left that way to stop "children running around". To demonstrate how abysmally squalid the place is, the professional cleaner runs a white-gloved finger through the air, and when he holds it out for inspection it is covered in grime.
- Some Britcoms including Only Fools and Horses, Father Ted and The Royle Family all have relatively clean homes, though the furniture all looks old, well used and authentic for the place/time.
- Completely averted in Life: Charlie's house does look amazingly tidy, but that's because Charlie's house is massive and has no furniture whatsoever, though he does keep a Room Full of Crazy handy. It's a Zen thing.
- The Big Bang Theory: The guys' apartment is this (due to Sheldon's OCD habits). Penny's, on the other hand, is usually a mess. Sheldon even commented that Penny's apartment is just disorganized, not dirty. (This after he straightens it up.)
- How I Met Your Mother: half-averted. The couch area is usually rather clean but the rear area frequently has some of Ted's W.I.P. (ranging from drawings and assignments to 7' Empire State Building models) left out in the open and the bedrooms are realistically messy. Barney's apartment, on the other hand, is always terrifyingly clean.
- All in the Family has a pretty clean and sparse living room (though the furniture, especially Archie's famous chair, looks suitably old and worn). Considering the amount of running around in each episode, along with being filmed in front of a live studio audience, they couldn't really be bothered to fill the setting with too much junk.
- The Golden Girls is a prime example. There's very rarely anything out unless it's specifically needed for that scene. The bedrooms are basically furniture and a few knickknacks. It's even more improbable considering they live in Florida and almost surely don't have a basement for storage. They have a garage, but it's at one point home to mink cages (when the girls try to breed minks) and a small collection of stuff, then later empty when they decide to turn it into a guest room. Then suddenly in the first episode of S7, the living room is crammed with junk that the girls are sorting through, deciding what to keep, toss, or bring to storage. Where did it all come from?
- Played with in an episode of Murphy Brown. Frank normally lives like a rich, tidy bachelor who's never home: His apartment is huge but has nothing in it but a TV, a chair, and an exercise machine. At one point he tries to construct a normal life, and invites his collegaues over for dinner. They enter to find the place fully furnished. One of them picks a catalog up off an endtable, and notices that the apartment looks exactly like page 12.
- The Montgomery and Marin houses on Pretty Little Liars. The Montgomery house has two teenagers, a dad who couldn't care less about the family, really, and the exceptionally busy Mama Ella, who seems to run an Art Gallery, raise the two kids by herself, teach at the High School, and know everyone in town. The Marin house has just Hanna and her mother Ashley, who works constantly, but the house is always spotless. Like, weirdly clean. Justified with the Hastings family. They're so rich they probably have several maids.
- Almost true on a episode on an episode of Laverne & Shirley. Lenny and Squiggy go on a game show and their prize could be a living room set. It rolls forward, scooping them up and one of them said "We gotta live here?"
- This trope seems to be the aim of nearly every Reality Show dealing with home improvement or interior design. The goal seems always to be a model home that would look good on the cover of a magazine, not a place you could actually live in comfortably. You will never see these home remodellers ask "Where will people throw away their trash?" or "How easy will it be to keep this room clean?".
- Arrested Development plays the trope straight and justifies it at first, since the Bluth family is forced to move into a full-furnished model home that has never been lived in before. George Michael leans on the fourth wall when he complains that movie homes never look lived in, then opens a cupboard to reveal shelves that are entirely empty except for the one food item he's looking for. It's a Running Gag that the workmanship is incredibly shoddy, however, and damage done to the home in any given episode is retained with meticulous detail in subsequent episodes, so that by the end of the series, the place is a dump.
- The Cosby Show: Cliff and Claire have full-time jobs in demanding careers and four kids living in the house, yet nothing is ever out of place and the only chore you ever see anybody do is cooking. AND the whole family has enough spare time on their hands to completely rearrange the house and enact elaborate fantasies such as teaching Theo what living on your own is like.
- The Mentalist: In the episode "Ruby Slippers". Jane and Van Pelt are examining the childhood bedroom of a murder victim, which fits this trope to a T. Van Pelt mentions that it "looks like a furniture catalog threw up in here"; Jane realizes the victim's father must have decorated it in a sign of disapproval for his gay son.
- Speechless also averts this, in that the DiMeo's house is a crappy little fixer-upper with a fair amount of mess everywhere.
- In Shortpacked!, Drew's freakishly neat apartment is contrasted with Ethan's cluttered, toy-filled space. Their conflict comes to a head when Drew, who has been nagging Ethan about his collecting habits, refuses to display even one toy in his home as a gesture of compromise.
- In Sinfest, one choice Monique is presented with is Wife Material, showing her vacuuming in this.
- One of the first clues viewers had that YouTube's lonelygirl15 wasn't a real person was the observation that all of the visible furnishings in her room came from Target.
- The Simpsons: Zig-zags this trope, with some episodes portraying the house as a pig sty, while others showing the house as being immaculately cleaned by the obsessive super-housewife Marge. In one episode after an entire day of Marge cleaning until the place sparkled, the family comes in and goes into the kitchen. The door swings in as they go into the kitchen and when it swings open (two seconds later) the room is a disaster, with debris and food everywhere.
- Futurama, Leela's apartment is almost completely spartan, while Fry and Bender's apartment is always disgusting (just the way they like it)
- Taz-Mania: Being a parody of typical sitcom family, the Tasmanian Devils' home is like this. The exception is Taz's room, which is literally a cave whose only furnishing is a rock that he sleeps on.
- The Hill's house on King of the Hill could be a justified case of this trope, as it has been shown numerous times that Hank Hill is quite particular about cleanliness and order.