How Frasier afforded his fancy Seattle apartment

Gabriella Paiella ran the numbers and found that Frasier Crane would likely have had the savings, from his psychiatry career, to put 20% down on his fancy Seattle apartment. But his new job as a radio announcer would not cover the mortgage, of course, so she extracted a backstory from the writers on how Frasier Crane might have essentially retired so well at 40. I won't spoil it (it's an investment a smart, obsessive Seattle nerd might well have made in the mid-1980s) but liked this remark from writer Joe Keenan:

"Another thing you have to recall is that in the nineties, the internet wasn't as wildly available or as fast and easy a tool to investigate this," he said. "You kind of went on instinct. Looking up what rents would've cost in Seattle or looking up what local market celebrities made would be the easiest thing in the world to do now."

Like Friends (1994), Frasier (1993) was portraying a world already a decade gone in terms of the space that the working and middle classes could readily afford1, but it was not quite common knowledge how much the world was changing. The internet "arrived" just as these shows soared in the ratings, to put that knowledge at everyone's fingertips. In this respect, "mysteriously unaffordable sitcom apartments" is one of the original memes, in the sense of how the internet cultivates and spreads (dare I say immanentizes) ideas.

  1. Note that Seinfeld (1989)'s apartment was relatively modest and credibly rent-controlled.