Recycling: Portrayals of work and workers on television

Over the years of writing this blog, I’ve devoted a number of posts to the ways in which work and workers are portrayed on television. Here are six past articles that discuss that topic, with snippets from each:

10 of the most emotionally admirable workers on TV (2012)

Tami Taylor, school counselor and principal, Friday Night Lights — It’s highway robbery that Connie Britton didn’t win an Emmy for her portrayal of Tami Taylor in one of the best TV dramas ever. Originally positioned as wife to high school football coach Eric Taylor (played wonderfully by Kyle Chandler), Tami becomes the moral core of the show, exhibiting role model-quality emotional intelligence at work, home, and in the community. Also deserving: Coach Taylor (Chandler).

What does ABC’s “Revenge” teach us about workplace injustice? (2011)

Are fans of “Revenge” frustrated avengers pining for a chance to inflict payback on those who have hurt them? If so, then there are millions of us waiting in the wings.

Fortunately, I don’t think this is the case. It boils down to the difference between exacting revenge — i.e., taking an active part in the retribution — and experiencing schadenfreude, the German loanword defined as deriving joy or satisfaction from another’s misfortune. The former involves planning and participation, while the latter represents an emotional response.

“Mad Men” and the “Dick Van Dyke Show” (2011)

Here are two American television shows portraying early-to-mid 1960s families, featuring a husband who commutes from Long Island to Manhattan every day to a job doing creative, well-compensated work, a beautiful work-at-home housewife, and adorable children.

We’re basically talking about the same programs, several decades apart, right?

Yeah, right.

FOX on the workplace: 24, Glee, and American Idol (2010)

If you want entertaining TV insights into work, school, and the American culture of popularity and success, three shows on the FOX network are worth watching: 24Glee, and American Idol.  I’ve blogged about all three of them previously, but they deserve encore mentions.

“Prime Suspect” (2010)

“Prime Suspect” stars the remarkable Helen Mirren in the lead role as Jane Tennison, who takes over a detective squad in Season 1 and serves in a variety of positions during the roughly 16-year life of the series. Tennison is tough, resilient, vulnerable, and imperfect, and over the years we become witness to her personal and professional successes and struggles.

HBO’s “The Wire” (2009)

Sometimes it’s the dealers, not the cops, who demonstrate the higher level of organizational intelligence.  Stringer Bell takes continuing education classes in business management, and when he gathers together his lieutenants, he runs the proceedings like a good board meeting.

One response

  1. I’m more interested in facts about work and workers than I am in portrayals. The only television show that has caught my attention on the subject is “Undercover Boss”. It’s also the only reality show that I have found to have any redeeming value.

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