Do you have a favorite TV sitcom? Maybe you’re even binge-watching an old-school classic or catching up on a new series?
We love going back to these sitcoms to revisit some of our favorite characters, but sometimes the technology they use catches us by surprise. Like when Chandler from Friends points to his computer screen and tells Phoebe " It’s a website." Or when Jerry is explaining early cell phone etiquette to Elaine, and George says: “A street cell phone call is the lowest phone call you can make.”
Below, we’ll take a look at the home lives of our favorite sitcom characters, taking special note of the technology they used and how much it would have cost.
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
On air from 1990 to 1996, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is a classic ‘90s sitcom with the big hair, wild color schemes, and old-school technology to prove it. Click to See More
In the living room, the TV set is a 35” RCA CRT Console. That classic wooden frame exterior was popular at the time, and the television would have cost $2,000.
Will and Carlton play a 16-bit Super Nintendo System that cost about $199, which would be $360 in today’s dollars. One of the games they played was RBI Baseball, which cost $60 at the time. And this GIF of Will Smith wearing ‘90s high-tech headgear is a classic example of how things have changed!
The house has a cordless home phone which cost about $60, and there was an intercom system that was a prominent feature in a season 6 episode called “Not With My Cousin You Don’t.” It’s likely that the model was a NuTone IM4006 costing about $150. The house also had a doorbell and door knocker, costing about $45. Notably, in the first ever episode, Will uses the door knocker for rapping when he arrives in Bel-Air.
The much beloved sitcom Friends was on air from 1994 to 2004. Click to See More
Set in a West Village Apartment located at 90 Bedford Street, NYC, the two-bedroom apartment would cost $4,500 per month if it wasn’t a rent-controlled inheritance from Monica’s grandmother.
The telephones they used in the sitcom were classic ‘90s technology. Monica and Rachel shared a cordless phone in their apartment, as did Chandler and Ross, and each would have cost about $45. And this was the era when answering machines were still separate from phones, and they cost about $50 each. But when Chandler and Ross upgraded to have a combo phone and answering machine, it would have cost about $85.
The apartment was outfitted with a 36” RCA TV costing about $1,400. They had a PlayStation that cost $299. And their doorbell on the classic purple apartment door cost about $35.
Chandler was the high-tech one of the group, as evidenced in this video clip from the cafe. He had a Compaq Contura laptop with a 500 MB hard drive, and 12 MB Ram, which had a price tag of $899. The average Internet speeds at the time were 33.6 Kbps, and the monthly cost for Internet service was $10 for the first 5 hours, then $3/hour.
On air from 1989 to 1998, this classic sitcom was set in NYC, and Seinfeld lived in an Upper West Side apartment. Click to See More
The address was supposed to be near Central Park at 129 W. 81st St., Apt. 5A, which would have rented for $3,400 per month. But the exterior shots from the show were actually filmed in LA at 757 S. New Hampshire Ave.
The show was a timeline of old model Mac computers. Seinfeld first had a Mac SE/30 that would have sold in 1987 for $3,700. Then there was a PowerBook Duo that would have sold in 1992 for $2,610. Next was a Power Macintosh 6100 which would have sold in 1994 for $1,700. And in 1997, Seinfeld had a 20th Anniversary Macintosh that had a hefty price tag of $7,499.
Computers weren’t the only old-school technology. In his apartment, Seinfeld initially had an old-school corded phone, a black Cortelco 2500 which would have cost about $30. There were also scenes with payphones which would have cost 25-cents for a 4-minute call. Then Seinfeld had a AMPS Car Phone, priced at $3,000, that he once called to talk to the guy who stole his car.
Eventually Seinfeld upgraded his corded phone to a Sony Cordless which would have cost $45. And then Elaine got a Nokia 6100 Cellphone priced at $900.
And of course, neither door locks nor doorbells applied to Kramer.
How I Met Your Mother
On air from 2005 to 2014, How I Met your Mother was set in an NYC apartment on the Upper West Side. Click to See More
In the apartment was a 32” flat screen television that cost about $700. And there were many instances where Microsoft technology appeared in the show. There was an MS Surface tablet which retailed at $799. There was an Xbox 360 Slim, costing $299, and there was an MS Kinect which cost $150. We also see Bing Maps making an appearance in the show.
As to smartphones, the show first had an iPhone 4S, then it showed the iPhone 5S, both of which cost $199.
Starting in 2011, Shameless’ ninth season was aired 2017-2018. Click to See More
Set in a Southside Chicago house, you can see the real exterior at 2119 S Homan Ave, and the purchase price would currently be $86,800.
In Season 1, the family shared a prepaid cell phone, which would have cost about $12 per month for 100 minutes, paid for from the squirrel fund. Later, Jimmy/Steve gives Fiona an iPhone 4 that would have cost $199. Then Carl buys an iPhone 6 Plus with his business profits, setting him back $299.
At the Gallagher House, Kev and V never need to knock, and the family uses the $45 TV’s sound system for late night dance parties.
This Is Us
However, the house’s exterior shots were actually filmed in LA at 5223 Shearin Ave.
In the house we see technology classics like a corded landline wall phone which would have cost $30, a record player that would have cost $70, and a Super 8 Camcorder which cost just $30 plus $5 per roll of film. Jack’s workplace was outfitted with cubicles of Sony computers costing $895 each. And the Rival-brand crock pot would have cost $35.
Fast forward to today, and Kate is living in a duplex apartment in the Hancock Park neighborhood of LA. The real exterior shots were filmed at 141 S Mansfield Ave. Owned by her brother Kevin, this apartment has a steep price tag of $1.2M. In the living room, there’s a Philips TV that cost about $350, and Kate also has an iMac 21.5, which cost $1,500.
Kevin is currently living in a luxury hotel suite in NYC, and is likely paying a steep fee of $11,040 per month. The filming location for these shots was also in LA, at the W Hollywood Hotel. However, before moving to NYC, Kevin was living in LA at a modern 5,400 sq. ft. house located at 2100 Castilian Dr., which has a current market value of $5.6M. You’ll also see Kevin using a gold Apple iPhone 6, which at 128GB would have cost $400.
Randall lives in a 7 bedroom Colonial in Alpine, NJ which would have cost about $4.3M. But the house’s exterior shots were filmed at 1090 Rubio Street, Altadena, CA. Randall likes his gadgets and has an iPad Pro retailing at $1,000, a MacBook Pro 15 retailing at $3,000, and a Fitbit Charge 2 costing $150.