Staff Picks | TV Workplaces


Macall B. Polay/HBO, Warner Media press kit

Nicholas Braun playing Greg Hirsch, left, and Matthew Macfadyen playing Tom Wambsgans in season 3, episode 4 of “Succession.”

By The Pitt News Staff

Many of us dream of the day we can escape our jobs, and fantasize about cursing out our bosses before marching right out of the office and into a blissful life. Work for many isn’t a place we want to return to in our free time, but these television shows at least make us feel better about them.

Whether you’re watching a work-themed comedy like “Parks and Recreation” or the dramas of a multi-billion work empire like “Succession,” you can take comfort in the fact that your workplace is probably not so dramatic — at least we hope so.

Succession // Diana Velasquez, Culture Editor

You think you have daddy issues? Try warring with him for control of the largest media conglomerate in the world. When he’s basically calling you a worthless excuse for a son over the fall and rise of stock prices, then you’ve felt the real sting of a family-run business.

“Succession” is HBO’s critically acclaimed show, based on the lives of real-life media mogul Rupert Murdoch, the owner of NewsCorp. In “Succession,” Murdoch’s proxy is one Logan Roy (Brian Cox), the CEO and founder of Waystar Royco. The show focuses on who exactly will inherit Logan’s media empire after his retirement, in particular which one of his children will come into power.

Initially, it seems like his second son, Kendall, will take the position, but he faces intense competition from two of his siblings, Siobhan and Roman. And while a good bit of the show is spent on their bickering, the overarching conflict resides in the conflict between the children and their father. The best lesson learned from this show — keep your business and your family separate.

Parks and Recreation // Patrick Swain, Staff Writer

Any given Monday, mustached libertarian Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman) is all of us. This quote encapsulates his work ethic — “Normally, if given the choice between doing something and nothing, I’d choose to do nothing. But I will do something if it helps someone else do nothing. I’d work all night, if it meant nothing got done.” His exasperated pessimism coupled with his almost gleeful aversion to productivity helps him further his goals of destroying the state from the inside — doing his part to hamper any efficiency in an Indiana town’s local government in NBC’s “Parks and Recreation” which focuses on Pawnee’s parks department.

His cheerful, idealistic co-worker Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) is Ron’s polar opposite. In her office are framed photos of stateswomen such as Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice.

“I have the most valuable commodity in America — the blind, stubborn belief that I am doing what is right,” she once said.

Leslie’s genuine, often naive altruism clashes with Ron’s grumpy individualism to foster a chaotic workplace, supported by a cast of quirky characters and their absurd antics — a perfect microcosm for the unglamorous world of low-level bureaucracy.

New Girl // Julia DiPietro, Staff Writer

Yes, “New Girl” is one of Netflix’s most popular shows to binge. Yet, no one really talks about the two underrated budding workplace plotlines throughout the series. First, we have Winston Bishop as he works to become a cop in the Los Angeles Police Department. There are some great episodes surrounding this process, including my favorite in season 4. This episode, titled “Background Check,” involves a bag of meth and a very sweaty Nick Miller (Jake Johnson). But the main development is the romance between cop partners Winston Bishop and Ally Nelson.

Next, while not an office specifically, Nick Miller and Winston Schmidt (Max Greenfield) spend lots of time working at the bar and becoming co-owners of the establishment. Their bromance is strengthened to a new level as they add business partners to their list of accomplishments.

The plotline brings out the ambitious and driven side of Nick, as he tries to manage the bar and operate it, in his own Nick Miller way, of course. The two go through lots of bumps in the road trying to make the bar run smoothly to make it a proper work environment, and sometimes fail in the process — it has been noted that Nick looks more like a ‘Nutmeg Wholesaler’ than he does a boss. Both of these storylines add a special work environment twist to the classic nine to five office space and offer some of the best scenes from the episodes throughout the series.

The Good Place // Jamie Sheppard, For The Pitt News

Imagine a chaotic workplace where one wrong turn in the office lands you in the crossroads of all dimensions — there are 10 to be exact — and it takes millions of years to get a promotion. At this job, retirement, also known as the “eternal shriek,” means that your soul will be disintegrated and your essence scooped out of your body with a flaming ladle and poured over hot diamonds. It doesn’t sound too pleasant! This is the reality for “bad place” architect, Michael (Ted Danson) in the show “The Good Place.” His boss Shawn, along with many of the other architects, hate new ideas and change, and if anyone annoys him, he might encase them in a green, slimy and unescapable cocoon for an unknown period of time.

Michael challenges these old ways of thinking, and on his journey to blissfully torture the humans in his charge, he sets new precedents for his profession. Along his journey with the four humans in his experiment, Eleanor (Kristin Bell), Chidi (William Jackson Harper), Tahani (Jameela Jamil) and Jason (Manny Jacinto) — Michael eventually experiences an existential crisis, a cornerstone of the human experience, which causes him to switch sides to the “good place.”

He dismantles the wrongs of an age-old system, defeats his own boss and finds a compromise between heaven and hell. Perhaps some of our own workplaces here on Earth could learn a thing or two.