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Tag Archives: Pulphead

TV Ate My House: The Double Life of a TV Home

23 Apr

Buildings can be famous for a number of reasons and a TV character’s home can take on a double life as it plays a role in fiction and in reality. In a city like New York pretty much every street seems as if it has featured on either the small or big screen and that’s probably because it has. There are certain places that take on a larger than life iconic status and become instantly recognizable to legions of fans. Exterior shots of locations such as the Friends building that housed all six characters at one time or another and Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment (that in reality is 5-bedroom brownstone) in Sex and the City are ones that immediately spring to mind.

For the people who live in these buildings made famous by these TV characters, their home is not just theirs but also forever belongs to Carrie, Monica, Chandler, Rachel, Ross, Phoebe and Joey. Last year the brownstone used in Sex and the City sold for a whopping $9.85 million and with that price tag comes a beautiful abode but also plenty of people who want their photograph taken on those steps. A small price to pay perhaps for a beautiful home located in Manhattan’s West Village (featured in the photo below).

SATC apartment

John Jeremiah Sullivan provides an account of what living in a famous TV house is like in his book Pulphead: Dispatches from the Other Side of America. Both the exterior and several rooms inside his house were used for the character of Peyton on One Tree Hill all while Sullivan, his wife and their young daughter lived there. This show was shot in Wilmington, North Carolina a place that has been used for multiple movie and TV shoots (I automatically think of Dawson’s Creek when I hear this location). There was already an agreement in place with the previous owners of the house and when Sullivan saw how much they were willing to pay to use the space it felt like a good financial decision for his family.

At first there were assurances that they would only be using two rooms inside the house, rooms which were decorated and furnished by the studio and Sullivan says that essentially “it meant that we lived on a TV set.” By all accounts they were treated well by the crew (Sullivan calls them “hyperprofessional”) and he is especially complimentary of Hilarie Burton (who played Peyton on One Tree Hill) saying “You could see Hilarie’s sweetness in the way she humored our families.”

Peyton's house OTH

Having fans turning up daily and from all over the world wasn’t the biggest issue Sullivan encountered with his house featuring on a TV show, as the fans were always polite and generally just wanted their photo taken in front of Peyton’s home. In reality it isn’t Peyton’s home; it belongs to the Sullivan’s and this is where the lines begin to blur. In a hotel room in Wilmington that they got put up in whenever extensive scenes were being filmed, Sullivan started watching the show and he explains that “We formed memories of our house that weren’t memories; we’d experienced them solely through television. We hadn’t been there for them, yet they’d occurred while we lived there.”

This kind of association took a turn for the disturbing when a storyline was introduced with “Psycho Derek” and this character did some truly terrible things to Peyton and her best friend Brooke in the basement of her/Sullivan’s house. Inevitably there came a time when it all became too much, especially as their young daughter was getting old enough to figure out that this wasn’t a normal set up for a family home and despite the offer of more money this was the end of Sullivan’s house being Peyton’s house.

This isn’t where the story ends for this house being recognized as a piece of One Tree Hill’s history (although it was also used in one episode of Dawson’s Creek) as they still get visitors wanting their photo taken. Thanks to reruns and DVDs this means that someone can experience a show for the first time long after it initially aired and so this house will always in some way be Peyton’s place. It’s very easy with the aid of the Internet to find the address of many homes that have been used on TV shows and so once a property has belonged to a beloved (and sometimes not so beloved) character there will always be a duel history; the fictitious and the real.

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