We’ve seen a lot of movies and TV shows about working life, from Office Space to The Office, Wall Street to Glengarry GlenRoss, and 9 to 5 to Working Girl. We asked our staff…
Of all the characters in work-centric shows and films, which person most reflects your work persona?
My work persona is one of multiple dimensions, and for that reason I feel as though it is only appropriate that the character I relate to most is actually two. When you first get to know me—or when I’m in group situations—I’m relatively quiet, as I try to feel out the environment and figure out the best way to get my work done and through the day. In that way, I relate to The Office’s Pam Beesley: personable while maintaining a low profile and harboring a secret dream. Also like Pam, when you get me one-on-one, my real personality starts to come out.
This real me, however, is less like Pam and more like Kelly Kapoor: cloaked in bright colors, fun loving, a bit zany, and bursting with pop culture references.
Like Leslie Knope, I am an enthusiastic tryhard with boundless energy and optimism. While I have plenty of original ideas and good intentions, I can’t help but get caught up in dumb things like respecting other people’s feelings, trying to help others, and believing in humanity, which often get in the way of my bigger ambitions. Colleagues might describe me as blonde, perky, and overqualified.
Despite my do goodery, it’s unclear whether the majority of people with whom I interact respect, fear, hate, or simply tolerate me because I’m a woman who is sure of herself (See also: Elizabeth Warren). For some reason, that is frowned upon in this society.
Oh, younger me. That post high school work history gives me uneasy chills. Many of my working days were spent leashed to a cauldron of tortilla chip grease, in a warehouse lifting boxes dirtier than dirt roads, and surviving the zombie outbreak of Black Friday as a retail employee.
In each of those positions I found myself under the management of sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigots.
With that in mind, I’m not entirely sure my work persona is fully reflected by Dolly Parton’s Doralee Rhodes from 9 to 5, but I certainly admired her get-the-boss fantasy.
I saw enough of my co-workers get sexually harassed and I was too often treated less than favorably because of my skin color. It would have been fun, or dare I say a hoot, to chase those deplorable managers down and hogtie them!
Just call me Tony Soprano: I’m from New Jersey, nobody really knows what I do*, but fixing other people’s messes most closely resembles “working in sanitation.”
*If you’d like to know what I do for real, please tune into South Park season 22, episode 9, Unfulfilled.
This is a good question, in that I am forced to reflect for a good 20 minutes, with palm under chin, for a succinct and appropriate answer. I suppose my work persona is best represented by two characters. My demeanor will usually appear like that of Tim’s, and this is Tim from the British version of The Office. I even walk similarly, I believe.
In terms of my ingenuity (work-related or not), I would say Charlie from It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia best captures it. Not that I drink while working (I usually don’t), or that I frequent a particular bar (I lost the habit last year), but I’m as neurotic in making sure that projects go off swimmingly. I will certainly present in a top hat if that woos the client.
Never have I felt more seen. Donna is aloof, judgmental, & secretly fabulous. Well, to quote Juwanna Mann, now the secret’s out! She’s my office avatar.
Mimi from The Drew Carey Show. I idolized her when I was a child. I loved her outrageous clothes and makeup. Now, she reminds me to say what I want and wear what I want. I’m good at my job. I’m good at my job. If you don’t like me or my clothes or my attitude, then fire me.
I’ve never felt more seen than the first time I watched Holly Hunter’s producer, Jane, in Broadcast News. From the minute we see her speed walking and buying a bunch of newspapers, to her unplugging the phone to take time to cry during the day, to how she manages to pull off every segment and show, but doesn’t allow herself any of the credit. “Well, there were no major gaffes anyways,” she says. I see all the best parts of Jane in myself, and all her worst, most workaholic-neurotic-controlling-self righteous aspects, too, while at work.
Call me crazy or a dreamer…
But I don’t want to identify with a TV office worker.
In my mind, I’m Flip – the owner/manager of the “The P*lace” – where the ever-changing Kids Incorporated performed for the masses.
Neon colors. 80s wardrobe. Being the just-adult enough presence to make sure a young Eric Balfour makes the right life choice or tween Love-Hewitt (sans Jennifer) survives heartache—all while making milkshakes.
I like to think that’s how I approach work and life. Fun, serious when I have to be, and loves boppin’ my head to HORRIBLE 80s covers.
I am Leslie Knope. I’m annoying. I care way too much. I’m an overachiever and I want everyone to like me. I make you talk on Mondays about your weekend and on Fridays about your weekend. But if you work with me I will wear you down day after day, week after week, and you’ll eventually love me.
When it comes to your work persona, what pop culture character is most like you? Join in on the conversation with The Prompt writers on Twitter!