The Moment as an Adult When You Realize Classic TV Shows Weren’t Filmed in the Cities Where They’re Based

Confession time.

Okay, so I know that plenty of “television happens” to make shows work. Like, I understand that many shows are filmed in studios, not in the actual apartments, offices, and homes where they’re set.

I also get that whenever we’re shown an exterior shot, it doesn’t mean that the actual set is inside that exact building.

Last, I completely understand that when most TV shows are filmed in restaurants, they don’t shut down the real-life restaurant to film the scene.

I know these things. I’ve known them for years.

Yet somehow it never occurred to me until today that Seinfeld wasn’t filmed in an apartment and a restaurant in New York City.

You read that correctly. Never occurred to me. Completely over my head.

What cued me in? I was watching an episode of the 7th season of Curb Your Enthusiasm today. This is the famous “Seinfeld reunion” season. As I was watching it, I thought, “How does this premise even work? Larry David lives in California, but the other actors live in New York. Wouldn’t it be hard to get together to chat?”

And then it struck me, hard: Seinfeld was never filmed in New York. The actors can easily get together in California because they live there and the show was filmed there. On a studio lot. Like everything else.

While I can chalk part of this up to me being incredibly naive, I have to at least give partial credit to Seinfeld for providing such a specific sense of place. It really feels like New York (at least, it feels like what I perceive New York to be, which is probably nothing like New York).

This is right up there for me with revelations regarding Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy. I will forever remember the time that, at 37 years old, I realized that Seinfeld was filmed in a television studio, not in New York.

Has this ever happened to you?

5 Responses to “The Moment as an Adult When You Realize Classic TV Shows Weren’t Filmed in the Cities Where They’re Based”

  1. Big Tom Casual says:

    Yes, just this moment.

    *forever changed*

  2. Joseph E. Pilkus III says:


    For me, having grown up in Philadelphia, I always love watching shows or movies (and over the years, there have been quite a few) that have been filmed in my city. Now while most of the exterior shots capture a glimpse of the City of Brotherly Love, I want them to have filmed the other scenes there, as well…but far too often, it’s not the case. However, there was a crime drama (the name escapes me at the moment) that was actually filmed in my mother’s Lutheran Church in Northeast Philly.

    Fun Fact: Over the Christmas holidays, my girlfriend and I visited the iconic restaurant, Tom’s, on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, where some folks believe that Seinfeld was filmed. : )

  3. I never really thought about it… but yeah, I assumed they were in New York. lol. When I was in kindergarten, it blew me away when I saw Lou Ferrigno on Battle of the Network Stars and realized that Bill Bixby (RIP) was just a regular dude. I enjoy the magic of “the Story”, even though it’s sad when it is dispelled- it pleases me.

  4. joeyvigour says:

    This is irrelevant to your post other than that I relate to the revelation/discovery element of how movies are made. It’s weird living in L.A. – the Roger Rabbit Toon Town tunnel (also in Back to the Future 2) was probably the biggest shock for me, as I was driving along in Griffith Park and suddenly, my brain just recognized it from Roger Rabbit and it was like “you mean they just set up a camera and filmed this tunnel? This is how movies are actually made?” You just want to shout to random cars driving by. I’ve been here 11 years and I still haven’t gotten over that excitement.

  5. Meeple Lady says:

    For me, my ah-ha moment when I was younger was when I realized that movies weren’t shot in the time period it was set in. I remember it vividly, watching “Annie” the 1980s musical with Albert Finney and Carol Burnett. And then I couldn’t figure out how a movie set way back in the day had actors who looked still similar in present day. That’s when I discovered movie costumes. Go figure!

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