When the pandemic hit New York City hard some New Yorkers couldn’t hack it. With the eternally sky high cost of living, so many sickened by the coronavirus, the shut down of so much of what makes the city the city: shops, schools, corporate offices, hotels, bars, restaurants and cultural attractions–some didn’t see the point of staying.
No judgement. Those who remained, the medical workers, first responders and essential workers, everyone who stuck it out either willingly or because they couldn’t escape, learned coping mechanisms in the boot camp we call living in the greatest city in the world. I’m not in the hero category, I’m just trying to get through.
Spring is here and we aren’t trapped indoors anymore. But the main way I kept my sanity during the winter months (other than writing romance) was binge watching New York-centric TV and movies. It was good for me to remember this was far from the first time New York City would come back bigger and better from unwanted pain. It was also a time to revel in what drew so many here in the first place and what makes so many natives, including me, so proud to call ourselves New Yorkers. As my brother in-law Tommy said, mid-pandemic, “never make the mistake of counting New York City out.” We’re on the upswing now, on our way out of the terrible tunnel.
I wanted funny and hopeful. I didn’t want to watch anything triggering or depressing—and nothing with escape or virus in the title.* It’s a given many of these NYC movies/shows were recorded in part on sound stages elsewhere but that doesn’t take away from their essential New Yorkiness.
My Pandemic Binge List
Seinfeld – The absurdity of everyday life in the city was never captured better.
Sex and the City– Romantic fantasy meshes with everyday as four NYC friends deal with dating and career angst. Carrie’s a writer! Also brunch, nightlife, cocktails and Big.
30 Rock – A stellar cast – remember when corporate offices were filled with people? though none as funny as Fey, Baldwin, and company.
The King of Queens – Classic, never goes out of style funny- married NYC couple Kevin James and Leah Rimini with Jerry Stiller as Carrie’s completely wacko father.
The Nanny – The flashy girl from Flushing never fails -Fashionista Fran Fine is quintessential NYC – “Oh, Mr. Sheffield!”
Breakfast at Tiffany’s – Audrey
Friends – Unrealistic? Yes. Comfort food? Also yes.
You’ve Got Mail & When Harry Met Sally – Nora Ephron’s love letters to falling in love in the greatest city in the world —classic Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.
Moonstruck – Cher, Olympia and Nicolas Cage moon over New York City and Brooklyn Heights.
Working Girl – Long before there was Dakota Johnson there was her mama Melanie Griffith and sidekick Joan Cusack vs. Sigourney Weaver – the view from Staten Island Ferry is priceless-overlaid with classic Carly Simon. Harrison Ford doesn’t know what hit him when he meets a girl with “a head for business and a bod for sin.”
The Honeymooners – classic old school Brooklyn -Jackie Gleason, Jane Meadows, and especially Art Carney are comedy perfection.
On the Waterfront – “I coulda been a contender…” Brando and Steiger with a little Eva Marie Saint and Karl Malden show life where I grew up in the days when everybody’s dad was either a longshoreman or a truck driver.
Godfather I & II – I couldn’t resist DeNiro, Pacino, Keaton and Brando. Besides it was an excuse to make spaghetti and meatballs.
I loved the recent Law & Order SVU reboot because— nostalgia. Back in the day the directors of original Law & Order (with its fine list of cops and ADAs) used our far west side Chelsea apartment when the story called for working class family interiors, so yeah that was cool.
What shows/movies did you binge during the past year?
*I avoided Scorcese’s Gangs of New York and Allen’s Manhattan.