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Real estate reality score (on a scale of one to five): 5
Netflix’s latest original film The Incredible Jessica James, starring Daily Show veteran Jessica Williams, chronicles the breakup and subsequent dating life of a struggling playwright in New York City.
There are a lot of incredible things about the movie—including witty lines like, “I’d literally rather have my period for 1,000 years nonstop than continue this portion of the conversation”—but Jessica’s basic apartment is not one of them.
We first see it in the opening sequence as Jessica dances around, surrounded by brightly painted brick walls. The walk-up unit is exactly where you'd expect a marginally employed Ohio transplant to end up, from its dinged-up walls papered with rejection letters to its shabby closet doors.
The film's representation of Bushwick, with its graffiti and ever-present sirens, prompts a love interest to observe, "It’s delightful. When are they going to burn it down?”
Still, the fact that her apartment fits a queen-sized, four poster-bed, which looks like a well-worn piece from IKEA, along with a couch, a dining area and an office space seems to imply that Jessica got a good deal. (Come to think of it, Jessica doesn't have roommates, the place seems clean enough, and it has laundry. Hell, I'd live there!)
Also, sweetening the deal, Jessica has access to an unfinished roof featuring plastic folding chairs and Christmas lights, even in the summer.
Jessica's friend, Tasha, also a struggling artist, seems to live in a similar situation.
Not everyone in her world is scraping by, though. Post-breakup, Jessica meets a successful app developer and British transplant named Boone. While we don’t see much of Boone's apartment, we can tell it is in a far nicer neighborhood than hers, and set on a tree-lined block. (Boone's ex-wife seems to live in the leafy West Village or in Brownstone Brooklyn, which makes sense given that she's supposed to be an award-winning food photographer).
The following conversation between Boone and Jessica rings particularly true: When he asks how she pays her rent, she replies, "I work at a nonprofit in Hell’s Kitchen.”
His cheeky response: “So how do you pay for your rent?”
She explains further, “I live in deep Bushwick. Deep, deep, deep Bushwick.”
“Not all of us can afford to live in neighborhoods that have artisanal pickle shops," she says.
Beyond real estate, Williams, a New Yorker in real life, knows the idiosyncrasies of living in New York. At one point in the movie, during a late-night ride on the Q train, Jessica signals to a fellow passenger to quit manspreading. And when a character says she moved here to escape her family, Williams's character's response, “You and everyone else who moved here,” truly resonates.
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