How Frasier afforded his fancy Seattle apartment

Originally published at: How Frasier afforded his fancy Seattle apartment | Boing Boing


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.

A TV Trope.


I’m still trying to figure out how Mike Myers’ character from So I Married an Axe Murderer was able to pay rent on a decent one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco on the income of a Beat Poet.



Funny, we’ve been catching Frasier reruns lately and I was mentally appraising his apartment with the super-fine views. Presumably he banked a bunch in Boston before returning to Seattle? Plus Dad has a pension…


He was a psychiatrist (i.e. an MD) and then a radio-show host. Why on earth would he not be able to afford a nice apartment? Shit, I rented an apartment with better views in SF (in the 21st century) on a lower-middle-class salary. A mortgage would be cheaper; assuming he needed one, I see no reason why a psychiatrist, especially one successful enough to transition to doing a radio show, couldn’t have paid in cash, especially after selling whatever property he’d had in Boston for a likely considerable profit.





Yeah, I saw that show and just figured he was rich. Didn’t seem odd.

Not like friends which was risible.


I just always assumed he owned the coffee bar from the opening. The MC did say "our own Charlie MacKenzie’ when she called him up to perform.


As far as his new gig, the average radio announcer salary in 1994 was merely $27,901.

This is where she makes her error. He’s not just an announcer but a radio “personality”. On-air talent with their own show would be pulling down at least low six figures at the time. He had an aggressive agent, and I recall at least one episode where national syndication of his show was discussed.

He would have had no problem covering the mortgage on that place, even splitting Daphne’s salary with Niles.

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 afford.

Certainly gone in large, desirable cities like Seattle or NYC. Unless you had rent control or lived in a slum, you had to earn at least $85k a year to live in a 1-BR in Manhattan below 125th St. in the early and mid-90s.

“Friends” tried to explain away Monica’s huge apartment by claiming that it was a rent-controlled unit she took over from her late grandmother, but it didn’t fly given that she and Rachel were both sporadically employed service industry workers for the first few seasons.


Agreed. There were multiple episodes where they discussed how a large portion of the station’s budget was going towards paying for the “talent” (to the detriment of the other workers) so a six-figure salary does make sense.

The trope of overly-large homes for TV characters has a long history, but this example was really one of the most believable.

One thing that makes somewhat less sense is that Fraiser didn’t even acknowledge his own dad (working under the pseudonym Sy Flembeck) back when he was working at Cheers to write a jingle for radio advertisements.

Sy Flembeck | Cheers Wiki | Fandom


The secret to saving money on housing is to get a place where each of the rooms only comes with three walls.


You’re only allowed to orient yourself to the missing walls which is probably quite draughty.


And instead of watching TV you have to just sit and stare out into the abyss, which responds to all your troubles and personal shortcomings with endless peals of laughter.



It’s a heartless Realtor that sells that place.

Well, extra heartless…


To recap the article’s argument:

a) radio show hosts, such as Frasier portrayed, only earned about $27k, barely a living wage even then. The discussion of him being paid more is not realistic; it would be like Central Perk paying Rachel more to serve coffee than Dorsia paid its head chef.

b) Frasier was only in his late thirties so could not have been a practicing psychiatrist for more than a few years

c) Even in 1993 that apartment – a 3,000 square foot palace in downtown Seattle – would have been a 7-figure mortgage.

The article is really about how these facts are things we know now (or can easily find out) but were obscure then. 1993 viewers would assume radio hosts earn good money, that lofty apartments are just a step past urban pioneering, and that 40 year old psychiatrists could be assumed wealthy. But by the end of the show’s run, all these things were jokes in want (in the context of the show) of explanation.

So they decided that, running the numbers, you have to give Frasier something exceptional to get him those holidays in Bali and S classes and whatnot. And in this case the writers decided he ate up MSFT in the 1986 IPO and (presumably) sold it between Cheers and Frasier.

This would be very Frasier thing to do, too, a huge mistake in pursuit of his snobby lifestyle, because the MS stock that would buy a Seattle penthouse in 1993 might have bought the whole building if he’d held onto it another few years.


I always figured family wealth might be a contributing factor for Frasier’s lifestyle too.

Sure Frasier’s dad was a beat cop with a blue-collar salary, but his mother Dr. Hester Crane had a long and successful career as a psychiatrist and she died at some point between 1984 and 1993, presumably leaving some kind of inheritance to each of her sons. That might explain why Frasier had enough money as a youngish adult to put together a healthy investment portfolio.


That’s an odd thing to say.

In this TV universe his character was born in 1953, so he would have been about 40 when he got a that apartment. How old do you think you need to be to become a psychiatrist?


Money laundering?

1 Like