Growing up, I was first introduced to the city through movies and TV shows based in New York.

I was obsessed with iconic sitcoms like Friends and Gossip Girl. 

I imagined New York to be a place where anything could happen, and where your friends always lived nearby.

Moving to the city at 18, I was lucky to get to live in the same building as all my friends. Even if it was a crappy dorm that was falling apart. It felt like living in an episode of Friends.

I even got to party at some of the most exclusive places in town that were featured on Gossip Girl

While living in the city, I’ve been lucky to experience a lot of relatable moments to the shows I devoured growing up. 

Watching any of these programs will have you longing to visit the city. If you’ve already spent time there, they may even bring up old memories.

I hope this list provides you with all the inspiration you need to find the perfect New York based tv show!

I Love Lucy

I Love Lucy was a popular show during the 1950s. When I was in elementary school, my mom, sisters, and I would watch reruns religiously on weekends.

Lucy always was having adventures on the Upper East Side with her best friend and neighbor, Ethel. 

Lucille Ball was the first actress to go all-out and to be funny, even if it meant not always looking perfect on camera.  

Watching Lucille Ball in this show is a major reason I pursued acting later in life. She was a total comedy powerhouse, and the first openly pregnant woman on TV. 

It was also a big deal at the time because she was married to a Cuban man both on and off screen.

I highly recommend downloading the famous episode called “Lucy Does a TV Commercial.” 

It’ll have you rolling with laughter!

Fun Fact: Lucille Ball was the first woman to own her own production studio. There’s even a movie about her life in the works, with Nicole Kidman playing her. 

Where to Stream: Hulu

Sex and the City

Obviously Sex and the City is on this list. NYC was practically one of the stars of the show!

The series follows four single women as they attempt to navigate their careers, friendships, and love lives in the city. 

After dating in New York for over a decade, I can say this show gets it right. It really is a crazy jungle out there!

Though let’s be real—there’s no way those ladies could trek all over the city in those gorgeous heels. Realistically, they’d be complaining about their feet hurting after a few blocks.

This is a modern day classic that everyone either has heard referenced in pop culture.

They even have two spin-off movies and a prequel series on the CW called The Carrie Diaries. Plus, a new spin-off show called And Just Like That… airing on HBO MAX later this year.

Fun Fact: You can take a photo in front of Carrie’s UES apartment, you just have to know that it’s actually in the West Village. You can find it at 66 Perry Street (between Bleeker and West 4th). 

Where to Stream: HBO MAX and Premium Hulu Live

Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Everyone I know is obsessed with Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and I have to agree, it’s a must-watch!

The show follows Mrs. Maisel, a devoted wife and mother, who spirals after finding out her husband is having an affair.

That spiral leads her to begin a career in comedy, that is a joy to watch on screen.

The show serves up snappy, intelligent dialogue, interesting plots, and hilarious stand-up jokes.

If that’s not enough of a reason to tune in, the period costumes are seriously stunning, the acting is fantastic, and the casting is spot on.

Maisel has been running for three seasons and has won 20 Emmys so far. The fourth season is currently in production and will hopefully be out toward the end of this year. 

I’ve just begun re-watching it recently, and even though the show makes me miss the city, it’s just as fun the second time around.  

Where to Stream: Amazon

Will and Grace

I grew up imagining I’d move to New York City and end up with quirky friends like in Will and Grace.

That totally didn’t happen, but it’s okay because I still ended up making some great friends

If you haven’t seen the show, here’s the rundown. 

Will and Grace are best friends and roommates. Together with their friends Karen and Jack, two completely over the top characters, they get into lots of trouble. 

It’s another show that my mom and I watched religiously while it was on in the early 2000s. 

Fun Fact: The show won 18 Emmys over its 11 seasons. 

Where to Stream: Peacock and Hulu

Friends

Okay, let’s be totally honest. We all want to live in Monica’s unattainable village apartment.

I’d do almost anything to have the amount of space she had, complete with a balcony. 

Friends gave people a totally unrealistic idea of what living in NYC is like. 

Let’s be honest, can any of us pass up watching an episode when we stumble upon a rerun?

Unless you’ve been living on another planet, you’ve probably seen this show about six twenty-something friends living it up the city.

Fun Fact: Tourists still stop by the dozens to take photos outside of the iconic apartment building in the West Village

Where to Stream: HBO MAX and Premium Hulu Live

30 Rock

This Tina Fey parody is based on her time as the head writer for SNL. 

Tina plays Liz Lemon, a head-writer for the comedy show “The Girlie Show.

Alec Baldwin plays her powerhouse boss, presumably based on the legend himself, Lorne Michaels (the creator and producer of SNL).

30 Rock ran for seven seasons on NBC and was nominated for 103 Emmy Awards, winning 6 of them. 

This joke heavy sitcom is perfect viewing when you want a light-hearted distraction. 

Fun Fact: Jon Hamm almost beat out Alec Baldwin for the role of Liz Lemon’s boss on the show. 

Where to Stream: Peacock and Hulu

Don’t Trust the B*itch in Apartment 23

This cult classic only ran a few seasons, so it was easy to miss.

It follows a June as she moves to the city and her relationship with her eccentric new Craigslist roommate, and wild child, Chloe. 

Chloe takes June under her wing and shows her how to thrive in NYC. Their adventures are always entertaining, and majorly quotable. 

Even though some situations they get into are pretty out there. But some of them are spot on with the kinds of crazy things that can only happen when living and partying in the city.

My friends and I still quote Don’t Trust the B*tch in Apartment 23 regularly. 

Where to Stream: Hulu

Girls

Okay, so while I totally understand why Girls had a major cultural moment, it’s not my favorite thing on the list.

That said, it was a cultural phenomenon back in the day, and it gave us the acting god known as Adam Driver, so obviously it needed to be on the list.

Plus, it really boosted Brooklyn’s popularity as a must-visit area for tourists.

This show totally pushed boundaries, and had some interesting relationship dynamics to explore over its many seasons.

I was a big fan for the first few, then had a hard time caring about the characters. 

That said, it’s totally worth a watch, especially if you’ve never seen it. 

Where to Stream: HBO Max

Sesame Street

I bet you didn’t expect to see Sesame Street on this list.

It’s one of the longest-running New York based shows, and likely one that most of you grew up watching. 

It’s still going strong over 50 years later and filming at the same studio in Queens where it all began.

You can even visit the honorary Sesame Street, at the corner of Broadway and West 63rd, on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. 

Where to Stream: PBS Kids and HBO Max

Gossip Girl

When I moved to NYC, Gossip Girl was the hit show all millennials were watching. 

Everyone I knew would either categorize themselves as a “Serena” or “Blair”—I was totally a “Serena”.

Watching this show about privileged high school students living on the UES, was a weekly ritual with all of my college friends. We’d sip rosé, and delight in all fashion and the featured hot-spots that we’d already been partying at.

HBO Max has a new Gossip Girl in the works, and while I’m insanely excited to check it out, the original will always be a NY classic!

Where to Stream: HBO Max

How I Met Your Mother

Okay, so if you haven’t seen this show yet, download it and watch it ASAP. 

This show has a major following, even my grandmother was a big fan of this show.

It follows a group of four twenty-something friends as they work and drink in New York City.

Most of the scenes take place in their regular booth at their local UWS pub.  

If you want to stop by McGhee’s, the bar they based it on, head to Times Square. You’ll see photos of the cast hanging out and even watching the last episode together from a booth.

As much as I love this show, the bar holds kind of weird memories. 

I ended up there on a date with a HIMYM super-fan and let’s just say it was super weird. His idea of a first date involved us taking a bunch of touristy photos and replicating ones that the cast had taken.

So maybe avoid dating super fans, but totally binge watch the show. 

Where to Stream: Hulu and Amazon

Mad Men

I recently re-watched the entire series during quarantine and I’ve got to say it’s really held up.

The acting is superb; the costumes are to die for; the dialogue is snappy, and the plot is pretty solid.

Here’s what you need to know in case you missed out on Mad Men when it was the most popular show on television.

The series follows Don Draper, who is a sexy, charming, and slightly mysterious man working in advertising in New York during the 1960s.

It examines the dynamic of women in the workplace, family life in the suburbs, and the traditional gender roles of the time. 

If you’re like me, you’ll be dressing with a bunch of 60s and 70s flair by the time you finish watching all seven seasons.

Where to Stream: Amazon

Younger

Younger follows a recently divorced forty-year-old, as she pretends to be a twenty-something to get back into Manhattan’s editing world.   

The show was created by Sex and the City’s main writer, Darren Star, and features SATC costume designer Patricia Field. 

The cast is equally outstanding, especially Sutton Foster and Hilary Duff. 

I’ve been watching religiously since their first season and cannot wait to see how it all ends as they air their last season. 

I love that Younger focuses on strong female friendships in the workplace and in the real world.

This show was made for millennials with its snappy hip dialogue, trendy locations, and on point fashion trends.

Where to Stream: Hulu and TV Land 

Seinfeld

This sitcom by Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David is a 90s New York classic.

Seinfeld follows four friends as they deal with all the craziness that comes with living in the city. 

The humor is both observational and situational, making it especially relatable to New Yorkers.

I have to admit; it took me a while to get into the show when I caught a few episodes about a year ago. 

While I appreciate the unique New York comedy, I found some jokes didn’t age well.

Either way, this is absolutely a cult-classic TV show and worth checking out. 

Where to Stream: Hulu

Modern Love

If you’re a romantic with an Amazon account and haven’t seen Modern Love yet, you’re missing out.

The first season features eight different stories, all about love, but not just the romantic kind. 

You’ll laugh, cry, and end the series with lots of hope and love for those around you. 

They base this anthology series on the “Modern Love” columns from The New York Times. 

In case you don’t read NYT, let me explain the column. 

Every week the newspaper publishes their “Modern Love” column about relationships, betrayals, and revelations people have about love while in NYC.

I binged this baby in like 24 hours, and cannot wait for the second season to come out. 

Where to Stream: Amazon

The Jeffersons

The Jeffersons’ theme song is one most of us have heard at some point.

Even if you don’t think you know it, the song will probably ring a bell when you hear it.

The show follows the Jefferson family as they move from Queens to Manhattan’s Upper East Side

This 1970s sitcom is the second longest running sitcom featuring a black cast, and the first show to depict an interracial couple. 

It also was considered edgy at the time for tackling issues like racism and alcoholism.

This show is a piece of television history that everyone should check out. 

Fun Fact: The show is a spin-off from the popular Norman Lear show All in the Family.

Where to Stream: Starz

Broad City

Broad City is a millennial cult-classic produced by Amy Poehler and featuring UCB alumni Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glaeser. 

The show was picked up after their self-produced web series gained traction on YouTube around 2010. 

It’s two twenty-something hipster best friends having adventures around the city.

The show is hilarious and features lots of notable guest stars like Amy Poehler, Rachel Dratch, and Fred Armisen.

Where to Stream: Comedy Central and Hulu

Succession

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a part of one of the richest corporate families in New York?

If you have, then Succession is the show for you. 

The show follows the dynamics of the Roy family amid concerns over the patriarch’s health. 

Whoever wins the fight to take over will control their company’s global media and hospitality empire. 

The dialogue is quick; the action is well-paced, and the acting is superb. 

With 9 Emmys over just two seasons, Succession is a show you shouldn’t miss out on.

Where to Stream: HBO Max

Mr. Robot

I originally began watching this show knowing nothing about it, all because of the lead actor Rami Malek.

Now that I know what the show is about, let me give you the rundown on this unique series.

Mr. Robot is about a computer programmer who’s a part-time vigilante hacker at night from his NYC apartment.

The story gets interesting when he gets recruited to help bring down corporate America by someone using the alias “Mr. Robot”.

This series has drama, suspense, and twists and turns in every season. 

Where to Stream: Amazon

The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

This Tina Fey original is totally adorable and a Netflix classic, especially with that catchy theme song.

If you haven’t caught it, trust me, the theme will get stuck in your head for hours.

The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt follows the story of a young woman who has spent the last 15 years of her life in an underground bunker.

When she finally makes it out, the first thing she does is move to New York City. 

This naïve Midwesterner has a lot to learn about the big city. Thankfully, she makes a few eccentric new city friends to help her learn the ropes. 

You’ll be laughing out loud at this fun, light-hearted comedy. 

Where to Stream: Netflix

Pose

Pose is a gorgeous show that’s full of love, emotion, dance, and fashion.

I began watching it over quarantine and cannot wait for the next season to come out.

It follows New York’s African-American and Latino LGBTQ and gender non-conforming drag ball scene during the 80s and 90s. 

I’ve been recommending it to everyone recently, so check it out. 

Where to Stream: Netflix

Law and Order

Okay, so I think everyone’s seen at least one episode of this legendary crime show.

Basically, the first half of the episode deals with a crime investigation. Then the second half involves the prosecution of the case.

I love Law and Order episodes standalone in terms of plot, making it easy to follow any episode that you catch. 

Where to Stream: Peacock

Ugly Betty

I used to watch Ugly Betty religiously while in high school. It’s such a fun tela nova style sitcom based in New York’s fashion industry.

The show follows Betty, who gets hired at a fashion magazine despite her lack of style.

It’s basically like a really fun Devil Wears Prada style show. 

Where to Stream: ABC, Amazon, and Hulu

Nurse Jackie

If you love a good hospital drama with spectacular acting, look no further than Nurse Jackie.

The show follows an ER nurse in a New York hospital as she deals with patients, colleagues, and her addiction to prescription pain pills. 

Edie Falco is seriously amazing in this show! She even won an Emmy for her portal of Jackie. 

Where to Stream: Apple TV+ and Showtime

The Bold Type

The Bold Type is a show that had me hooked after a few episodes. 

The show follows three best friends struggling to survive in the concrete jungle.

This show is all about girl power, with the women supporting each other through all of life’s crazy twists and turns. Plus, the fashion is on point!

It kind of reminds me of Sex and City mixed with Emily in Paris

The Bold Type is the perfect remedy at the end of a long day when you just want to watch something new and fun with strong female characters.

Where to Stream: Hulu

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Andy Samberg stars in this NYPD comedy as a carefree cop that always gets the job done.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine takes place in Brooklyn’s fictional 99th precinct. It’s hands down one of the most entertaining cop shows I’ve ever seen.

This is a fun show, filled with comedy, heart, and obviously a lot of crime. 

Where to Stream: NBC, Hulu, and Peacock

Russian Doll

Russian Doll follows Nadia, as she gets stuck in a time loop and keeps living through a party that seems to have no end in sight. 

At the end of the night, she simply dies and the time loop starts over.

This show is totally original and features fantastic acting by Natasha Lyonne. 

Even though Nadia is living through the same thing repeatedly, this show never gets dull.

Where to Stream: Netflix

All in the Family

This 1970s classic follows Archie Bunker, an outspoken man from Queens, as he tries to bridge the generational gap with his kids.

Created by the visionary producer Norman Lear, All in the Family broke tons of barriers during its time on air. 

Episodes focused on race relations, homosexuality, and feminism. All of these were taboo topics for television audiences when the show aired. 

They considered it groundbreaking and ranked number one in the Neilson ratings for five years!

If you aren’t a TV geek, the Neilson ratings basically gauge how many people tune in to each show. 

So basically, ranking number one means the show was the highest viewed show in its time slot. 

Where to Stream: Hulu

The Deuce 

Want to learn a bit about the Golden Age of Porn in Times Square during the 70s and 80s?

Then check out The Deuce.

The show follows the transition of porn being an illegal crime backed enterprise into a more regulated billion dollar industry.

Maggie Gyllenhaal and James Franco both give outstanding performances. The sets are realistic, and the costumes are so much fun to check out.

This is one show that will transport you back to midtown’s seedier days.

Where to Stream: HBO Max 

The Honeymooners

The Honeymooners is another vintage classic from the early days of TV sitcoms.

This 1950s show is about an optimistic city bus driver living with his wife in a small Brooklyn apartment.

It’s a simple premise that highlights working-class married couples. The cool thing is that it’s a grittier and more realistic portrayal than most shows of the time. 

The show is in black and white, totally adorable, and perfect for a good laugh.

Where to Stream: Amazon

Closing Credits

NYC CAB

I love how each of these series captures New York at distinct moments in time.

You can glimpse at what things were like in the 50s, or dream about visiting the latest hot spot featured in a new show. 

Television really is a spectacular way to travel without leaving home.

It’s what began my obsession with moving to New York as a kid, and it fuels my desire to move back one day in the future.

Until then, I have a ton of TV shows that I’m now dying to re-watch.

Let me know in the comments below which show based in New York that you’re most looking forward to checking out!

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