It's a Girls world
Forget shopping for Jimmy Choo heels and whizzing uptown in the backseat of a limo, a la Sex and the City's leading ladies: the cash-strapped 20-somethings of the hit TV series Girls are more likely to shop for flats at cut-price retailer T.J. Maxx, all the better to run for the subway.
The writer, creator and star of the series, Lena Dunham, has nailed the world of young hipster New Yorkers living in Brooklyn and lower Manhattan.
Trying to make it in publishing and the arts, they more often than not end up making coffee and working crappy babysitting jobs, that is, when they're not sponging off their parents.
Beloved for its realistic sex scenes, witty dialogue and angsty snapshot of young adulthood in New York, Girls has been a ratings powerhouse in the US.
The series stars Dunham as Hannah, Allison Williams as Marnie, Jemima Kirke as Jessa and Zosia Mamet as Shoshanna - the four main characters, close friends around whom storylines of love, sex, friendship, work and accidental smoking of crack revolve. Welcome to their world.
Hannah's apartment (shared with Marnie in season one) is a two-bedroom walk-up on India Street in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Exterior scenes were shot on the stoop and in the street, turning the working-class neighbourhood into a pilgrimage site for avid fans.
Meanwhile, Shoshanna and Jessa's Manhattan pad is decidedly more upscale, on the corner of Elizabeth Street and Broome Street in Nolita.
GOOD FOR THE HOOD
It's kind of perfect that Dunham chose Greenpoint, out of all Brooklyn neighbourhoods, for Hannah's home.
What began as farmland has been home to immigrants - it was once called Little Poland and is still an excellent place to find borscht and blintzes - and now hipsters, indie rockers and would-be poets.
Rents are much cheaper than in the city, although they are increasing as cool cocktail bars such as the Manhattan Inn pull the crowds. We just know Hannah would be a regular at the cash-only Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop. See themanhattaninn.com.
At this real-life coffee shop on Meserole Avenue in Greenpoint, series fans line up for lattes and snapshots (there are also Grumpy locations in Park Slope, Lower East Side, Chelsea and coming soon to the Fashion District).
On-screen, Ray works here as a manager and Hannah, broke and running out of options, gets a job serving up coffee and attitude. She gets sent home from her first shift to change from a white dress into a "cute top". See cafegrumpy.com.
Sensitive, caring Charlie plans to make furniture for then-girlfriend Marnie that resembles something she likes at Restoration Hardware. In real life, this luxury home furnishings store is popular with upwardly mobile New York nesters for its $4000 crystal chandeliers, French provincial bedroom suites and Flemish wine goblets. See restorationhardware.com.
WEAR IT WELL
Hannah's struggling-writer frumpy wardrobe is sourced from pre-loved clothing stores Beacon's Closet and Atlantis Attic in Williamsburg. Jessa's wedding dress was found at vintage boutique Geminola. In a fun twist, the West Village store is owned by the mother of actress Jemima Kirke, who plays Jessa.
Marnie's turn as a gallerista was shot at Lehmann Maupin Gallery in Chrystie Street, Nolita, but in the show it appeared she worked at Lehmann's Chelsea gallery. Visit either space to admire or acquire works by Tracey Emin, Kutlug Ataman and other contemporary artists. Meanwhile, Hannah's unpaid internship was filmed in Gawker's offices at 210 Elizabeth Street in Nolita. See lehmannmaupin.com.
THE HIGH LINE
There's an infamous scene from season one when Marnie meets artist Booth Jonathan at a gallery party. He takes her to the nearby High Line, a former freight-line turned public park in Manhattan running along the west side of the island for more than 30 city blocks.
The girls are several times seen snacking from paper cups of Tasti D-Lite, most notably when Shoshanna lectures Hannah and Jessa on tips from "Listen Ladies: A Tough Love Approach to the Tough Game of Love". Avid watchers of Sex and the City will recognise the reference; Carrie and those other "girls" were often shown eating the popular frozen dessert. See tastidlite.com.
The girls attend the book launch of Leave Me Alone, by Hannah's nemesis Tally Schifrin, at The Jane. This West Village hotel is famous for its maritime theme, small rooms, low prices, wild Saturday nights - expect dancing on the tables as standard - and buzzy weekend brunch scene.
Fans with kids can let them loose at Vesuvio Playground on Thompson Street between Spring Street and Prince Street in Soho; it's where Jessa took her babysitting charges after school. This popular recreation spot has basketball courts, swings, outdoor pools and spray showers. Just don't do as Jessa did in season one and lose the littlies. See nycgovparks.org.
When Jessa invites the gang to "the most important party of my life", they have no idea they are about to attend her wedding. Jessa rushes down the aisle to marry her venture capitalist beau at The Foundry, a 19th century historic building that has been restored to reflect its original industrial use, in Long Island City, Queens. See thefoundry.inf.
Hannah sees out the season one finale alone on Coney Island beach, stuffing wedding cake in her mouth and drowning in melancholy. If you'd rather ride the rollercoaster, you're in luck. Luna Park at Coney Island has been extensively revamped over the last few years. It was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy last year but reopened this summer with new rides, a Mermaid Parade and many, many hotdogs. See lunaparknyc.com.
The writer travelled with the assistance of United and NBC.
Girls season 3 screens Thursdays at 8.30pm on Soho.
FIVE MORE SET-SEEING TOURS OF NYC
SEX AND THE CITY Bus tours of Magnolia Bakery, Manhattan shoe stores and upmarket cocktail bars continue to sell out. See onlocationtours.com.
READY, SET, GOSS Fans of celeb gossip sites and TV shows can take a bus tour of locations in NYC where the famous live, work and play. See tmz.com.
GOSSIP GIRL A tour of the overprivileged Upper East Side includes 30 locations from the show. See newyorksightseeing.com.
NBC STUDIO TOUR This tour of NBC reopens - bigger and better - later this year after major renovations at Rockefeller Centre. See nbcstudiotour.com for updates.
THE SOPRANOS Join a bus tour in Midtown Manhattan to see Sopranos territory in New Jersey. See onlocationtours.com.
STAYING THERE The Jane, 113 Jane Street, New York, thejanenyc.com, standard rooms from US$99 ($119) a night. The single rooms at this affordable West Village hotel are small, even by NYC standards but people-watchers will enjoy the scene at weekend brunch and on Saturday nights when the DJs crank up the volume.