The Soapbox: “Don’t Trust The B In Apartment 23″ And “Girls” Make Me Realize My Life Is A Cliché

Hello, my name is Alexandra Gekas and I am a single woman living in New York City who used to watch “Sex and the City.” I can assure you that I did not come to New York City to live the life of “Sex in the City.” But I also did not know just how unrealistic and off-base that show was when I arrived five years ago, otherwise I probably would have stayed away.

Don’t get me wrong, I love this city. Its power, its energy, its diversity… That’s why people are willing to sacrifice so much to stay here. New York is like that insanely hot guy who’s kind of mean to you, but the sex is great and when he’s on he makes you feel so good, you just keep coming back for more. But he’s not exactly Mr. Right, now is he? Having watched the new ABC show “Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23” and in anticipation of the upcoming HBO show “Girls” (which premieres on Sunday night), I’ve realized that A) I have not let myself admit just how hard it really is and B) not only am I not alone, but there are so many of me that my life has become a television cliché. 

The premise of “Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23” is that June (Dreama Walker) moves from Indiana to New York City with a great apartment paid for by her great new employer with her fiance on his way. At 26 years old, her life is right on course when it all comes crashing down and she’s forced to move in with Chloe (Krysten Ritter), a hard-knock New Yorker who tries to con her out of a few months’ rent, but fails. (June turns out to be tougher than she looks and Chloe turns out not to be half bad. I’m sensing BFFs in their future.) Then there’s Lene Dunham’s “Girls,” which looks like it will be more realistic and gritty, but with the same basic premise—young post-college women come to New York City to live the “dream,” only to find out it’s more of a pizza-and-bad sex-filled nightmare of cockroaches and long subway rides to low-paying (or no-paying) jobs.

I relate to June. When she’s bright-eyed and bushy-tailed I see myself during my first few months here after moving from Chicago. And then there’s Chloe, rough around the edges and snarky — a real hustler. I worked with women like that at my first job, and they had it out for me the minute I walked into the office in my pantsuit. Not because they were necessarily threatened by me, but because I was weak, un-self-conscious and earnest — an easy target. As far as dating goes, well I can assure you there is no Chris Noth in the picture. Not to say every romantic experience I’ve had has been bad. In fact, the last guy I dated was a straight-up good man, external factors just got in the way (he got busy, I got lonely). But even that is kind of cliche, right?

I don’t mean to be a grump. This morning I lost my wallet and realized that without it I had no subway card and no money, aka no way to get to work without walking 50 minutes in my uncomfortable boots and business casual attire. I had no one to call for help, either. My friends are scattered around the city and were probably already at work, anyway. So at least with the recent economic disaster, the influx of eager, young upwardly-mobile women and the reality that New York City really is a place where “if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere,” television has caught on that “Sex and the City” just doesn’t cut it. 

So yes, my life is a television cliché, but at least television is catching up. And at least it’s a cliché that shows not only the truth of the matter, but that there is an entire army of women who totally understand why I cried in front of the bank teller this morning over the $2.50 I needed for subway fare. And hey, with no one to call, I did have to solve the problem myself. And there’s something to be said for that … right? Bottom line is at least the next wave of young women looking to come to the big city will know what they’re getting into. They’ll have a much better idea of what “living the dream really means.”