25 series and movies set in the Big Apple
New York City, NYC, The Big Apple – even if you’ve never been there in real life, it is instantly recognisable from the hundreds, if not thousands, of films and TV series that have either been set there, filmed there, or both…ever since the 1900s.
Here, we have a diverse selection of shows, movies and doccies that each portray a different area and era of the city that never sleeps.
A group of young women make an effort to stand out in New York’s skate culture, showing their moves at skate parks and on the streets.
The simplest of opening credits shows an aerial view of Manhattan, the most densely populated of NYC’s five boroughs and home to some of the world’s major commercial, financial and cultural centres. It’s here you will find the Empire State Building, Times Square and the theatres of Broadway. It is, in essence, the core of the Big Apple.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (S1-7 on Showmax)
Although filmed at a studio in Los Angeles, the exterior shots of the police station are of the real 78th Precinct building at the corner of 6th Avenue and Bergen Street in Brooklyn. There is no 99th Precinct in real life.
Chicago often stands in for New York, which is drawn into the storylines that focus on big business and the inner politics of the city’s top political brass.
Fear City: New York vs The Mafia (Netflix)
Through fact or fiction, the Mafia is inextricably linked with our perception of New York City. As a documentary series, this offers us a harsher view – without hair and make-up, if you will.
At 90 Bedford Street, New York, NY 10014, United States, stands the tan brick building that served as the exterior for the apartment in the popular 1990s TV series. Although the sitcom was filmed on the West Coast, not the East, the spirit of New York was always present.
Gangs of New York (Netflix)
A historical look at the city, and an epic crime drama film directed by Martin Scorsese, you can get dirty in the notorious Five Points slum of the 1860s.
Following the lives of four young women living in Brooklyn, the view is influenced by the carefree, playful and sometimes reckless nature of being 20-something, one mistake at a time.
The borders between NYC and New Jersey can become a little blurred, particularly when it comes to Mafia movies – fact or fiction. Step into the world of Henry Hill and the glamorous nightclubs and bars of the early 1960s.
Gossip Girl (Netflix)
It’s all about the Upper East Side – money, money and more money. Elegant and sophisticated locations, from hotels to apartments, boutiques to parties and restaurants. Everything glitters.
And at the other end of the spectrum is the dark and gloomy setting of Gotham. Fictional? Yes. Inspired by New York? Also yes. This incarnation is about the dangers that lurk in the shadows.
Everyone’s favourite pot dealer, known as The Guy, rides a bicycle, so this is a ground-floor view of NYC, flanked by skyscrapers reaching up to narrow strips of sky, and streets jammed with yellow cabs.
The gifted computer hacker with mental health issues criss-crosses the city from the Brooklyn Historical Society to an abandoned amusement arcade on Coney Island.
In 1987-1988 in the African-American and Latino ball culture world, the heat of inner city apartments is palpable. Now consider American Psycho, set in the same year(s), and how the city reveals two very different sides of herself.
New York all the way, baby. Where there’s money and drugs, there is power. The exterior of the Truth nightclub is filmed in the Meatpacking District of NYC and many exterior shots are filmed in and around Brooklyn.
Real Housewives of New York City (Netflix)
If one thing hasn’t changed, it’s being seen in the right places. Follow these women to locations like Hotel Chandler, Martha’s Vineyard, 21 Club, Lincoln Center, Miami Beach, and Russian Tea Room.
Perhaps one of the most loving series when it comes to New York City, it not only portrays (highly unrealistic) lifestyles but also gloriously showcases the city, from the Staten Island Ferry to Carrie’s fictional apartment. If those front steps could talk…
Do apartments like Harvey Spector’s even exist? Yes, they do. The show may be set at a NYC law firm, but filming mostly took place in Canada.
A little bit of New York in exteriors like Central Park and the Brooklyn Bridge, and a whole lot of Canada.
Another glimpse into the past, 42nd Street, aka The Deuce, has a rich history stretching all the way back to the Revolutionary War. In the 1970s it was sleazy and grubby and grimy, and has captured the imagination of film makers for decades. Travis Bickle (from 1976’s Taxi Driver) frequented its porn theatres.
The cinematography is imbued with tension, from prisons to police stations, and pains have been taken to show locations as they really are and not masquerading as something else.
The Wolf of Wall Street (Netflix)
Here we go back to the financial district, the obscene amounts of money, and how it can be abused in the wrong hands. It may look all nice and shiny on the outside, but beneath the surface it’s sordid as anything.
SATC creator Darren Star continues his love affair with NYC and takes us on a whirlwind tour in every episode. By the time it’s over, you too will have invested a little piece of your heart there.
American Psycho (Netflix)
It’s the 1980s Wall Street, when yuppies ruled the world with their obsession with wealth, success, status and style. It was all about being seen in the right places – but the protagonist of this movie, based on the Bret Easton Ellis novel, is obsessed with all the things he can get away with when nobody can see him…