19 Things I Really Expected To Have As An Adult, Thanks To TV And Movies

·12 min read

I grew up watching my fair share of television and movies. From picture-perfect Disney families, to quirky sitcom characters with NICE apartments, my kid brain had some pretty funny ideas about adulthood. Here are just some of the ridiculous things that I, as a kid, thought I'd ~probably~ have as an adult:

1.A spacious apartment with all my high school and/or college friends

characters on Friends watching TV in the living room

Spoiler alert: I don't live in the same city, let alone state, as my best friends from high school or college. Getting an apartment in a new city (especially New York City) is pretty soul-crushing and weird. Absolutely gutted to report that my apartment looks nothing like Monica's from Friends. Though I didn't land some sick, rent-stabilized oasis with purple walls and move in with all my existing friends, I moved in with a complete stranger who I met on Facebook, and it turns out she's pretty great. And though it was daunting at first, now I wouldn't have it any other way. I have this built-in ride or die friend (sooo cliché) for every new adventure, misstep, flop, and triumph this city has afforded me.

NBC/Courtesy: Everett Collection

2.A pet

a small dog and cat sleeping on a couch

When I go to a friend's house and snuggle their cat or when I see a particularly adorable dog on the street, I get sad and long for a little baby (NOT HUMAN) of my own. I would love that little stinker so much!! But, when characters in TV shows and movies have pets, do they show you all the poop walks, vet bills, destroyed furniture, and pet hair? Usually no, unless it's part of a punchline. Yeah. I know myself. I love animals so much and was fortunate to grow up around many, but it takes a certain level of stability and maturity to be a responsible pet owner. I'm not there yet. Hell, plenty of people my age who get pets aren't! I don't have the time, the space, or the money right now, so it simply wouldn't be fair to the animal if I tried before I'm truly ready.

Elena Grigorovich / Getty Images/EyeEm

3.A long-term plan

I mean, I have a rough idea of some boxes I want to check off, but that's really about it. Everything about the future feels very uncertain, and as a control freak, that scares me!!! I'm slowly relinquishing control and letting life happen to me, rather than measuring every step of the way. I'm a very intense planner, but the idea of a

I mean, I have a rough idea of some boxes I want to check off, but that's really about it. Everything about the future feels very uncertain, and as a control freak, that scares me!!! I'm slowly relinquishing control and letting life happen to me, rather than measuring every step of the way. I'm a very intense planner, but the idea of a "10-year plan" makes me laugh. I don't want to create some idealized future in my head any more than I already have. It's not practical for me. I have goals, of course, both professional and personal, but I'd be lying if I said I had it all mapped out. Taking it bit by bit while I can.

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4.A big, coed friend group

the expectation of being like the cast of Friends and the reality of having just one close friend like in Broad City

My life looks more like Broad City than Friends, How I Met Your Mother, How I Met Your Father, etc. You know what I mean. I always thought I'd end up with this tight-knit group of friends where we'd all take trips together, date each other, and just navigate our 20s as a unit. I also thought I'd have more guy friends since that was commonplace in high school and college. Not quite! I do have a lovely group of girlfriends that I spend time with nearly every week, but it's not quite as immersive as I imagined. We all have our own lives and our own shit, so while we do come together for shows, bar bingo (shoutout Biddy's Pub!), quiet nights in, or sporadic ferry rides, it's not the way TV makes it look. Most of my time is spent as one half of a dynamic duo, in true Broad City Abbi and Ilana fashion. My roommate and I are the party.

NBC/Courtesy: Everett Collection, Comedy Central/Courtesy: Everett Collection

5.More high heels and less practical shoes

an X over heels and a check mark over sneakers

This one might be on me, but anyone navigating through their adult life without reliable, practical shoes is either incredibly unhinged or incredibly brave. I've always admired how powerful and put-together women look in TV shows and movies as they strut through the city in their heels. I wish I could emulate that poise, but alas, if I'm spending good money on shoes, they need to be versatile, comfortable, and long-lasting. Black booties with a heel are about as ~elevated~ as it gets for me, with the exception of formal events. It's just what my toes want.


6.A dining room table or even just a kitchen table

a kitchen table that seats two

I guess people who don't live in a shoebox in NYC may actually have a shot at this, but not me! I made my bed, and now I must lie in it. I made my dinner, and now I must balance it on my knee or eat it off of a TV tray from the '90s.

Johner Images / Getty Images/Johner RF

7.A stable relationship

close up of pinkies being held in the sunset

I can't even get into this one because I know my parents are reading, but dear GOD. This is not what I signed up for. As a kid, I definitely got the impression from movies and TV that I'd spend my 20s collecting milestones like Thanos collects Infinity Stones (did I say that right? I've never seen a Marvel movie. Please don't come for me in the comments). I've been in a few serious relationships, but none that have even INCHED towards marriage or children. HA! I'm so thankful for the life I've created for myself and for the freedoms I have, but I definitely pictured my love life consisting of more genuine relationships and less painstaking first dates.

Siam Pukkato / Getty Images/EyeEm

8.A dishwasher

dishes being loaded in the dishwasher

I know plenty of my peers have dishwashers and that's AWESOME for you guys! I chose my current lifestyle, so this isn't me just whining while sitting in Manhattan knowing damn well I put myself here. But, TV shows just need to stop lying to us. TV shows will never show you a realistic NYC apartment and that's a fact!! 500-square foot apartments don't really bode well for fun, escapist TV shows. I get it! In NYC, dishwashers are for the elite and for the fictional. I understand! It's not hard to wash dishes. I don't mind doing it at all! This is just an ~observation.~

Peter Dazeley / Getty Images

9.A walk-in closet

a very neat and sparse walk in closet

Not even like a full, room-sized closet. I'm just talking one that you can take a single step inside of. Even this picture is bigger than my wildest walk-in closet dreams (OK, maybe not my DREAMS...I dream of Hannah Montana's walk-in closet). I simply long for a closet that isn't a single rack in the wall behind an accordion-style door that keeps coming off its track. Honestly, I'm grateful to have a closet at all in the city, but as a kid, I totally thought luxury walk-in closets were gonna be more of a "thing" everywhere.

Marcus Lindstrom / Getty Images

10.Reading glasses

a character reading with glasses on while another character cuddles up beside him

I feel like every character older than 25 pulls out a pair of reading glasses at some point, and we all just accept it. I'm very lucky to have good vision — I've never had to wear glasses or contacts. Occasionally I wear blue-light glasses while working if I have a headache. But, reading glasses haven't played a role in my adult life quite the way I envisioned.

20thcentfox / ©20thCentFox/Courtesy Everett Collection

11.Time off

a notepad that says out of office

Ironically, I'm writing this as I prepare to take time off for a wedding next week. Of course, I have time off — my job has a good PTO policy and I know many people don't have such a luxury, so I am very grateful. But you know how in sitcoms, no one is ever working? Like, for every two minutes we spend watching a character at their job, we watch 15 minutes of them goofing off with their friends. Though both my parents worked and I realistically knew what actual time-off looked like for employed adults, my child brain still thought more of my life would happen outside of work. If sitcoms are mainly showing us the characters' lives outside of work, those must be some of the most energetic people in the freakin' world. They occupy all their downtime with social activity and antics. I'm calling BS on that one. No one has THAT much time off, or that much energy.

Jayk7 / Getty Images

12.A brief case

I carry my work stuff in my pineapple-covered backpack like the professional I am!!! I've always been charmed by the sleekness and ~mystery~ of a briefcase. What secrets does it hold?? I'll never know. 

I carry my work stuff in my pineapple-covered backpack like the professional I am!!! I've always been charmed by the sleekness and ~mystery~ of a briefcase. What secrets does it hold?? I'll never know.

Tetra Images / Getty Images/Tetra images RF

13.An affinity for running

Phoebe from Friends running

Reader, I still hate running! I always thought I'd go through some sort of metamorphosis in my mid-20s where running suddenly became the ideal way for me to blow off steam. It is not. At best, I power walk through Central Park and fight the urge to buy overpriced truck ice cream. If you see me running, I'm being chased. You should also run.


14.A kitchen island

a large open kitchen

I know, SO MANY kitchen things!! I just really love playing hostess and wish I had a kitchen/dining space better suited for gatherings. Though I never lived in a house with a kitchen island, they seem to be a staple in every fictional, on-screen household.

Chuckcollier / Getty Images

15.A yard

two characters grilling in the backyard

As a kid, I didn't necessarily know I'd end up in NYC. It wasn't until high school that I visited NYC (despite being born upstate) and saw a future for myself there. I always had some sort of a yard as a kid — my first two childhood homes were inside the premises of zoos (if there's interest, I will write an entire piece about growing up in zoos sometime LOL), so I always had green space around me. I didn't realize until later in life that yards are actually kind of weird? I mean, they can be really nice in theory, too. But they're really not an "everywhere" thing, despite media convincing me that "normal" people have a yard, a fence, a grill, and a patio (and a pool, if you're lucky).

Abc / ©ABC/Courtesy Everett Collection

16."Work" clothes

a character in a blazer and the author in a floral blouse and leather jacket

I thought pencil skirts would play a wayyy bigger role in my adult life. And blazers, and pantyhose, and collared shirts. I work from home most of the time, so my work attire may or may not include a bra (depending on the day). Even when I do go into office, the dress code isn't business-y or strict. We all get to embrace our individual styles and rock whatever 'fit we're feeling. Not pictured: my ripped black jeans and black booties.

Danny Feld / ©CW Network/Courtesy Everett Collection / BuzzFeed

17.A fridge with a dispenser for water and ice

Only for the elite, I suppose!! To me, these fridges are a sign that you've

Only for the elite, I suppose!! To me, these fridges are a sign that you've "made it." You know a family has their shit together when their fridge can serve you a glass of ice water. So sophisticated.

Jaysonphotography / Getty Images/iStockphoto

18."The one that got away"

two characters staring at each other

Though my love life has had its fair share of drama, it's never had something this rich, you know? I'm so in love with this trope too — the idea that someone really special slipped away and you may or may not ever get another chance with them. I just don't feel that way...yet. But, the concept is so romanticized and every time I see it, I kind of wish I had it, even though it looks sort of brutal. I hope I'm the one that got away for someone else (selfishly). I'm sure my ego would love that kind of main character energy. I don't know. This is starting to feel like a diary entry and I hate that!! Moving on!

Fox Searchlight / ©Fox Searchlight/Courtesy Everett Collection

19.Finally: A single clue to what I'm doing

the author posing with a drink at a restaurant

Reader, I don't know what to tell ya! It's a mystery to me that I've made it this far. As adults, we're all just a bunch of fakers. I don't want this to get too cliché, but I mean it. I am clueless. Yet, I keep it under control most of the time? I've learned not to compare myself to my peers, and CERTAINLY not to compare myself to fictional characters. I truly have everything and more, and I'm filled with gratitude. This list is filled with so many trivial things, and I want to emphasize that though it may seem like I'm lamenting over BS I don't have, really I'm just laughing at how disillusioned I was growing up! It's almost like I saw TV shows and movies as a manual for how adulthood worked, and reality is sooo different. And everyone has their own reality. I know mine has a lot of privilege — it's a privilege to be naïve. Thankful to be here, thankful for what I have, and thankful to be learning something new every day.