Refinery29’s original scripted comedy, Strangers, centers on a woman’s experience discovering her sexuality and identity while dealing with a changing roster of tenants via an Airbnb-like service. Based on director Mia Lidofsky’s personal experience renting out her New York City apartment, the series examines what happens when you let complete strangers into your home. Here, Lidofsky spills everything she learned from her experience with Airbnb.
For two years, I worked in television assisting director Jesse Peretz (Girls). As much as I loved my job, however, I knew I had to leave if I ever wanted to direct something myself. So I decided to quit — and realized that I had to face the reality of surviving as an artist.
The resolution: Airbnb. Prior to this, I only Airbnb-ed out my place when traveling, or I would stay with a girlfriend, just to make a little more cash. Now, however, it became a real source of income. I took on another job that involved travel, and rented out my West Village apartment as a secondary source of cash.
This went on for years. Airbnb was unregulated at the time, and it was a whole new way of communicating with people and sharing your life. It was a unique experience of discovering and exploring, and it allowed me to pursue the life I wanted. Even when I had the opportunity to move back to New York, I still rented out my apartment and shared a loft in Williamsburg instead, charging a couple hundred a month over the rent.
Only recently did I give up Airbnb, when I moved in officially with my long term girlfriend this past winter. It was a real goodbye to a chapter of my life — this single, subletting artist trying to survive and become a future version of herself. This was a means to help me get there, and I’ve learned a lot along the way.