Are TV Characters' Salaries Realistic?
Think back: When was the last time you saw Carrie Bradshaw chopping vegetables or preheating an oven to cook herself dinner on "Sex and the City?" How about shopping on the clearance rack or setting foot inside a discount store?
Nope, Carrie is a Prada-buying, cosmopolitan-drinking, Manolo Blahnik-collecting kind of girl. She eats out constantly, resides in a roomy one-bedroom Manhattan apartment, and never seems to think twice before slapping down her credit card for more designer duds.
Even her job - sex columnist for a New York City newspaper - is glamorous. But don't let the "Sex and the City" writers fool you: Carrie's annual columnist salary wouldn't come close to affording her that luxurious lifestyle (trust me). According to Payscale.com, a New York City journalist with 10 years of experience earns a median annual salary of about $57,000.
From Orange County to Wisteria Lane, TV characters always seem to be well-dressed, debt-free and driving expensive cars up to their pristine homes. But despite their alluring jobs, most of these characters would be solidly middle-class in the real world.
Here's a look at how much your favorite TV characters would really be bringing home each year:
Simon Cowell, American Idol Judge/Talent Scout
Salary: $34 million, according to the London Daily Mirror. Even though Cowell is a real person, his stratospheric salary is far from typical. According to Payscale.com, the average Hollywood talent agent with 25 years of experience would make $30,600.
Dexter Morgan, Dexter Forensics expert
Real-life median salary: $47,680, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Dexter (Michael C. Hall) only uses his job as a forensic blood spatter analyst as a cover for his night-time job -- as a serial killer who kills bad guys. Even though he earns a decent amount, we're pretty sure money is not his top priority -- it's getting rid of the bad guys.
Christian Troy, Nip/Tuck Plastic Surgeon
Real-life median salary: $156,500, according to Payscale.com. Although Troy's partnership is considered to be the best private practice in Miami, he would need a loftier-than-average salary to afford his fast cars and expensive suits.
Michael Bluth, Arrested Development Acting Company President
Real-life median salary: $140,350, according to the BLS. Top executives can bring home the big bucks, but thanks to Bluth's father's dubious accounting practices, his paycheck might be a bit paltrier.
Sandy Cohen, The O.C. Lawyer
Real-life median salary: $94,930, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). While a nearly six-figure median salary is nothing to scoff at, the typical lawyer can't afford an oceanfront mansion and pool house.
Homer Simpson, The Simpsons Nuclear Safety Inspector
Real-life median salary: about $64,000 for nuclear power reactor operators, according to the BLS. So that's how Homer affords all that beer...
Elliot Stabler, Law & Order: SVU Detective
Real-life median salary: about $54,000, according to the BLS.
Sydney Bristow, Alias CIA Agent/Investigator
Real-life median salary: around $50,000. The CIA keeps its salaries top-secret, but About.com estimates the typical starting salary for a CIA agent is between $34,000 and $52,000.
Gil Grissom, CSI Forensic Scientist
Real-life median salary: about $44,000, according to the BLS.
Grace Adler, Will and Grace Interior Designer
Real-life median salary: about $40,700, according to the BLS. Maybe Grace should be working for her rich, lazy assistant Karen, instead.
Susan Mayer, Desperate Housewives Children's Book Illustrator
Real-life median salary: $38,060, according to the BLS. Money might be a little tight for this single mother on Wisteria Lane.
John "JD" Dorian, Scrubs Medical Resident
Real-life median salary: $37,000, according to an American Medical Association Report. If you break his salary down hourly, it just gets worse.
Source: Laura Morsch, CareerBuilder.com