Newbies of New York

City life on the big and small screens

13 Feb 2020 | 02:18

277 people move out of New York’s metro area every day, according to Bloomberg News.

"Katy Keene," a new series on The CW, is a 20-something, more diverse "Sex and the City" about four friends and just may have what it takes to fill the void with young people from near and far. As with SATC, Manhattan is the fifth friend.

Lucy Hale, in the title role, plays a native New Yorker whose late mother, a seamstress, inspired her love of fashion design. She’s a personal shopping assistant at Lacy’s (read: Bergdorf’s.) What would the workplace be without a nemesis who undermines Katy out of a promotion? Undaunted, the ever-cheerful retail associate gets snapped up by a different department head who sees Katy’s value and wants to groom her.

Somewhere on the upper Upper West Side, Katy resides in a four-story walk-up with two roommates, Josie McCoy and Jorge/Ginger Lopez.

Josie is a soulful singer-songwriter. On her second day in NYC, she meets a record producer who wants to launch her career.

Jorge/Ginger is doing quite well as a drag entertainer, but aspires to perform on the Great White Way. We know he’ll make it, a la his impassioned, “Baby, remember my name,” speech with which he tells off a Broadway producer who’s rejected him.

Pepper Smith, although not a roomie, rounds out the quartet. This British It Girl is, “the most connected person in New York,” which can only guarantee success for the fashion-empire she’s building.

After work, they go dancing at of-the-moment clubs in fabulous outfits created by guess who?

“Is this what it’s like every night?” asks Josie.

“Welcome to New York,” squeals Katy.

Paying Her Dues

Just like those who came here thinking they were going to live the Carrie & Co. life — replete with Mr. Big — the newbies calling Greyhound for their tickets might be a tad disappointed.

Their experiences will probably end up closer to (hopefully not exactly like) that of Jane in the indie film tour de force "The Assistant."

Jane, played by Julia Garner, is a wanna-be producer, paying her dues as a support staffer to a Weinstein-like boss, although she’s told by the ineffective HR manager that there’s nothing to worry about because she’s “not his type.” This is the part that I hope no one ever, ever has to deal with again.

The tried and true reality of those at the entry-level, though, is that Jane, albeit her degree with honors from Northwestern, can barely afford to live in Queens and does not go out every night because she is working first-to-arrive-last-to-leave hours. In between, she makes coffee and copies, orders lunch, opens mail, arranges travel, runs errands, and answers the phone; all under the auspices of her two Machiavellian male co-workers.

Where Katy is a cockeyed optimist who never saw a frown she couldn’t turn upside down, Jane can’t even fake a grin and would be served best by a Prozac prescription.

But that’s NYC life on the small and big screens.

Here is how it currently lays out before me: My daughter Meg is interning with the hope that the position will lead to full time employment. Her just-graduated friend is working two part-time jobs until there’s an opening in her field of study. Some young people, like my son Luke, graduated and got the job they trained for in school, but still either live at home or with a multitude of roommates. While others, who got their degrees at the same time two years ago, are just getting their career grooves on. Even though they do go out and enjoy Manhattan, it’s not every night, nor are they dressed to the nines.

Although none of their experiences are as bleak as Jane’s, thank goodness, they’re not quite as magical as Katy’s — yet there’s something about Manhattan that makes people believe they could be.

That’s why, no matter how many people leave our city, there will always be those who just can’t stay away.

Lorraine Duffy Merkl is the author of the novels "Fat Chick" and "Back to Work She Goes."