In Gossip Girl, Serena van der Woodsen overlooks Grand Central Terminal upon her return while Blair Waldorf plans her next party on the steps of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. In The Devil Wears Prada, Andrea Sachs receives a style makeover during her time at the Runway magazine headquarters in New York City. In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the four brothers celebrate their victories by eating Antonio’s Pizza and exploring city nightlife.
Movies and shows are quick to portray New York City as the best city in the world, a place where business moguls of Wall Street determine their next million-dollar move, where fashion designers popularize the latest trends during New York Fashion Week, or where the paparazzi eagerly wait outside Taylor Swift’s Soho apartment.
Even on social media, influencers posting pictures of their lavish lifestyles cause people to automatically assume that living in New York City comes with a free skyline view conveniently located right in front of the window. In reality, NYC is one of the most expensive cities in the world, with the cost of living in Manhattan 154% higher than the national average.
In addition to ridiculous living expenses, New Yorkers are no strangers to public transportation horror stories. While most movies depict protagonists stepping into taxis, New Yorkers try to avoid them as much as possible. Like rent, NYC taxis are unreasonably expensive and will take twice as long to reach their destinations, due to traffic.
Instead, we rely on the dreaded MTA. I’m practically immune to the dried patches of urine coating the station floors and the sight of rats scurrying across the rails. Normal summer days consist of standing on packed subway platforms next to other sweaty strangers, all rushing towards the same air-conditioned train, which always arrives 15 minutes late. In the winter, we stand in freezing stations, stomping the black slushy snow off of our boots.
Despite the ridiculous prices, smelly train stations, and exaggerated stereotypes, I realize that I take it city life for granted. Up until college, I had always seen New York City as an average place. After meeting people who weren’t from the city, I began appreciating it. When New York City became the epicenter of the pandemic, seeing the once-bustling city transform into an eerie ghost town was extremely unsettling. It was a wake-up call for the introvert in me, who preferred being indoors binging on Netflix rather than going out.
While NYC definitely isn’t the glamorous place of dreams Hollywood suggests, it definitely has its moments.