TV Architecture


In the spirit of fun and pointless distraction, tell us what TV show --and its architectural features, good or bad-- caught your attention as a kid.

Was it a house or apartment interior set that could not possibly match the exterior shot? Or a downstairs set that couldn't match the upstairs?

Was it a really cool design feature or room layout?

This is the kind of thing that we as architects have spent hours thinking about, and one reason (among many) that our non-architect friends make fun of us. But here's our chance to elaborate and dissertate among fellow design geeks.

Spill it! What TV show aroused your early inner architect?

Mar 4, 10 1:29 pm

The Jetsons. I've always wondered how every room in an apartment could have a window when the apartment was arguably a slice of a circle.

Mar 4, 10 1:37 pm

One of the most annoying things for me were mismatched highrise interiors and exteriors, either office or apartment buildings.

For staging reasons I'm sure, the interior entry door was on the left wall, perpendicular to the window wall at at the back. This would never happen, of course. The entry door would always be opposite the window wall.

The one show I remember the correct arrangement being shown was on "The Courtship of Eddie's Father," where the swanky apartment interior's backdrop was an interior wall, with the front door and massive sliding glass door (to an equally massive terrace) opposite each other. I wanted to live there, with the cool, progressive, permissive hip dad. I mean, come on: Bill Bixby as your dad!

And, now, I will return to my real life, grading midterms.


Mar 4, 10 1:40 pm

When I was in elementary school I would watch Nick at Nite for hours and hours and hours until my head hurt. Reason: I was researching the Brady Bunch house so that one day I could finally have a complete floor plan from which to build my scale model.

Every night, I sat in front of the TV with a pencil and stolen computer paper and carefully noted room dimensions, doorways, furniture, wall and floor coverings, fixtures, color schemes, windows (or lack thereof... in the bedrooms) and even the outdoor living space.

Re-runs infuriated me - lost opportunity. Slowly but surely, however, the puzzle began to come together, and I started working on my shoe-box model.

Things fall apart. Which doors connect to the backyard? What is this mysterious 'den' that was only shown briefly in episode 57? Where are the bathrooms? Is Mike secretly harboring the black river of rage? Why is Alice forcing me to question my sexuality? (Side note: she is now my #1 lesbian icon)

After the Brady Bunch experiment crashed and burned, I realized that I had been using it to fill a void in my life. If only my family had an orange formica counter and bedrooms decorated according to oppressive gender biases - perhaps we would experience the same myth of familial bliss that the Bradys seem to have. I wonder what the Brady Bunch house would have been like had the show included a more substantial back-story on Mrs. Brady's pre-Brady divorce and subsequent sexual liberation? My life could have been different....

Mar 4, 10 3:27 pm

oppressive gender stereotypes*

Mar 4, 10 3:30 pm

ahhh, this is hilarious -- I analyzed the interiors v. exteriors of sitcoms all the time as a kid and didn't even realize the import of what I was doing until years later!

I remember one that annoyed me a ton -- late 80s -- I think it was probably Family Matters? The interior didn't match the exterior.

I remember mentally figuring out the layout of Roseanne, too, and have always had fun with the cartoons (Simpsons and particularly Family Guy) where the lack of a fixed set means that the rooms are drawn totally differently depending on the viewpoint.

Mar 5, 10 1:19 am
blueprints of sitcom houses
Mar 5, 10 2:31 pm
Mar 5, 10 2:31 pm

Thanks, Toasteroven.

I love that guy's work on actually drawing up the floor plans of various sets. The weird plan shapes show how hard it is to reconcile the spaces.

It also reminds me that the set designers for "Bewitched" did try hard to layout out the interiors to match the exterior they used.

Mar 5, 10 3:08 pm

Great post, MiddleAmerica.

Yes, I think the Brady Bunch house is the ultimate challenge for many of us growing up... the Moby Dick to our architectural Ahabs. So many questions and inconsistencies.

I did totally dig that kitchen: L-shaped island with the sink in it, and requisite brick kiln/oven combo so popular back then.

Mar 5, 10 3:20 pm

Full House - Uncle Jessie, his wife and his children lived in the massive attic above the second floor, yet from the front elevation that is shown in the introduction, there is no additional depth for any attic space.

Mar 5, 10 4:08 pm

-al's bathroom remodeled by peg
-bud bundy drilling a hole on the wall and calling it "entertainment center"

Mar 5, 10 4:25 pm

seinfeld's cabinet maker installing upper cabinets over the island

Mar 5, 10 4:32 pm


Apr 5, 11 5:55 pm

The semi-automated mansion (with mini rail tracks!) in Silver Spoons, and the Webster house with the secret passage behind the clock. The two best incongruous sitcom sets.

Apr 5, 11 6:16 pm

It always annoyed me as Fred Flintstone chased Willma, he kept running by the same set of windows and doors over and over. How long was that living room?

Apr 5, 11 7:54 pm

Something that I thought I could share. I have not seen the show so I wonder how accurate it is.

I don't think I paid that much attention to the interior/exterior in the shows. However, there may have been times when I thought, wait!, that doesn't seem right! I am sure we would have a heck load of blooper examples if we had to movies!

Apr 7, 11 4:30 am

When smurfs were closed in a cage and when the ribs of the cage where so vividly far from each other that it was obvious that they could easily go out, bu of course didn't do it, never :)

Oct 12, 13 11:22 pm

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