Lower East Side on the Small Screen: Mr. Robot
Have you gotten hooked on “Mr. Robot,” the surprising summer hit from the USA Network? The gripping story of a anti-social cyber-security specialist who moonlights as a vigilante hacker is enjoyable and thought-provoking television. But as an extra bonus, it also features plenty of Lower East Side scenes.
The lead character, Elliot (Rami Malek), lives in an apartment at 217 East Broadway, just to the west of Clinton Street. That’s the building where Bo Hai Dumpling Town is located. The property sold last year for $3.3 million, a fact that has not escaped obsessed fans on Reddit, pouring over every detail on the new show.
In the first episode, Elliot’s friend Angela (Portia Doubleday) greets him outside his apartment. “You live in a bad neighborhood,” she tells him. “Do you know that?” Elliot responds, “I do know that.” Series creator Sam Esmail has said the location scouts sought out places “like Coney Island or the Lower East Side that are amazing to look at” — that “are beautiful in their ugliness.” Much of the shooting now takes place at Silvercup Studios in Long Island City, where the apartment has been replicated.
It might not look so glamorous, but the “bad neighborhood” is, of course, no bargain. The building in which Elliot is supposed to live is now undergoing renovations. No current or past listings available there. Across the street in the Seward Park Co-ops, two bedroom apartments are now going for close to $1 million.
It just so happens “Mr. Robot” is back in the neighborhood for more shooting this week. Signs have gone up on East Broadway warning residents against parking in the area today. Maybe you’ll see Christian Slater, the series’ biggest star, hanging out in the area.
[UPDATE: Those yellow “no parking” signs disappeared this morning, so no shooting today; maybe the shoot will be rescheduled sometime soon.]
The show airs Wednesday night at 10, or you can watch it on demand (iTunes, Amazon, etc.)
Here’s a footnote for the truly obsessed. Bo Hai Dumpling Town is nothing much to look at. If you walk inside, you’ll see a few women hunched over tables stuffing and rolling dumpling skins. But it’s a decent place to pick up a bag of frozen dumplings ($11 for 50). Varieties include: pork with leek, pork with Chinese cabbage, chicken with Chinese cabbage, vegetable and salted meat.