Reel Estate

On "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," landlords kill to make rent-controlled apartments market rate

By Lucy Cohen Blatter | February 3, 2016 - 12:59PM

When a movie or TV show is set in New York City—and if the people making it are savvy—real estate becomes part of the story itself. In Reel Estate, we look at some of the more memorable domiciles to grace the screen.

Last week's episode of FOX's Brooklyn Nine-Nine was a treat for real estate junkies. (The consistently funny sitcom is almost always a treat for viewers of any kind.)

One of the subplots saw Rosa (Stephanie Beatriz) and Charles (Joe Lo Truglio) investigating the seemingly straightforward death of an 89-year-old. In typical NYC fashion, the two start to eye the woman's apartment, which apparently is about 1,800 square feet, has exposed brick, natural light, and a gas range. "This is an opportunity you just don't get in New York City real estate," Charles says, somewhat insensitively.

While at first Rosa thinks Charles should be more respectful of the woman who just died there, a quick look at the walk-in closet convinces her to apply for the apartment, too. "Game on!" he says as the other cops glare at them. "The game of contacting the next of kin," Charles lies.

To butter up the landlord, Rosa uses her Spanish (and flashes a rare smile) and Charles uses his access to the baby eels needed for a classic Andalucian dish. The landlord wonders how Charles got the eels for the dish, since it's impossible to find them here.

"Oh, not if you have a ton of disposable income and great credit like I do," he answers.

In the end, neither of them get the apartment, which makes them suspicious. They then figure out that the landlord wants to keep cops at bay since he poisoned the old woman so he could charge market-rate on her rent-controlled pad. Now on his way to jail, the two decide that, with the bank taking over control,  it's time to start competing for the apartment again. 

Sadly, this particularly storyline doesn't feel that far off from reality. Though we'd like to believe that a landlord wouldn't actually kill a tenant for her apartment, we know New Yorkers can be rather quick to move on an apartment when a neighbor dies.

And last week wasn't the  first time the show has focused on real estate. In its first season, Jake (Andy Samberg) had a storyline about trying to come up with $430,000 to buy his grandmother's apartment; it was rent-controlled but the building was going co-op.

Jake apparently had no idea that his building was going co-op, because all of his mail had piled up in his clawfoot bathtub, dubbed "mail tub."

After seeing a bunch of dud apartments, including the one above, Gina (Chelsea Peretti), Jake's childhood friend and now co-worker, offers to buy it, and Jake agrees to live in her apartment instead.

We've got to give credit to the Brooklyn Nine-Nine writers for actually getting New York City real estate, and all of its craziness, right.


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