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13 Jobs from Our Favorite TV Shows We Wish Were Our Own

Mad_Men_season_5_cast_photoLabor Day may signal the end of summer, but it also means the dawn of a new season back in the television salt mines for many of our favorite characters.

From creating ads on Mad Men to trying to cure rare diseases on Grey’s Anatomy, our fictional friends on television are serious about their work. No matter what the channel or the time of day, chances are one of your favorite characters is working hard for the money — probably with a side dose of intrigue, relationship drama, terrorist activity, or a combination of all of those, if you’re Homeland‘s Carrie Mathison.

This year, it seemed like the perfect time to check in with some television favorites, past and present, whose occupations have been front and center on their shows. What would 30 Rock have been without, well, 30 Rock? Not a show within a show, that’s for sure. Cheers without Cheers? Same deal.

What are the most represented occupations on television? Ten years ago, a study analyzed by the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics found that they weren’t always the most realistic, nor reflective of the average American’s experience. The point of tv was to entertain, and even the popular categories of medical, legal, police, and crimefighting were over the top. This may not have changed a whole lot, but some things have, including an entire hit series, The Office, based around the extraordinary daily interactions of employees at a very ordinary paper company.

Anyone who has ever gone through team building exercise may be able to relate, anyway!

  • CIA Agent – Homeland 1 of 13
    homeland

    When she's not racing around the Washington, D.C. metro area trying to figure out what's going on with Brody, Carrie Mathison has the occasional meeting with Saul at the C.I.A.'s Langley, Virginia headquarters. 

    I admit to looking over my shoulder a bit more since I binge-watched the entire first two seasons of Homeland in a week, but I live in the D.C. area, so that's my excuse. A girl can never be too careful. 

     

    Image credit: YouTube

  • College Professors – Community 2 of 13
    community

    I've worked in a community college setting for a long time, and I have to say that as outlandish as some of Community's situations are, the diversity, humor, and yes, the occasional study group, reflected in the show are very much a part of the daily landscape. I'm certain that my institution wouldn't choose to throw a paintball contest (that goes horribly, horribly wrong, of course) to guarantee an early registration slot, but that's a small detail. 

    The professors also don't typically lose their jobs and become students, like Senor Ben Chang, but that suspension of disbelief is what's so great about television, right? 

    Image credit: YouTube

  • ER Doctors – Grey’s Anatomy 3 of 13
    GreysAnatomysSeason1Cast

    Would you check into Seattle Grace? If you ask me, it depends on the day. 

    Grey's has taken its initial class of residents through the years post-medical school, and in the process, they've experienced pretty much every possible interpersonal tangle and tragedy one would hope could ever befall a group of employees at a major metropolitan hospital. 

    Suspending disbelief just a minute, there is a focus on competition in surgery (paging Dr. Cristina Yang), questionable ethical decisions causing trouble for doctors (ditto Dr. Meredith Grey), and more doctor-doctor relationships than you can shake a stethoscope at (ditto everyone on the show, living or dead.) 

    Image credit: Wikipedia

  • Art, Photography, Music, Law, Construction, Dance, Politics and more – Parenthood 4 of 13
    parenthood

    The Bravermans are a career counselor's dream family, at least in terms of job diversity. Zeek's mostly in his garage these days, Camille is an artist, Sarah has her "it's complicated" position at the photography studio, Julia's an attorney, Joel runs a construction site, Jasmine's a dancer, and Kristina runs political campaigns. What don't these Bravermans do? 

    Well, Crosby and Adam filled in a gap by buying up a music studio, causing no end of entrepreneurial and creative drama that makes for the most interesting workplace on Parenthood. Amber left her occasionally tortured career as a barista to pitch in, making The Luncheonette (a former diner, because why not?) the center of much multi-generational occupational drama, and the site of some of the best scenes on this addictive family-oriented show. I love love love NBC's site2-within-a-site dedicated to The Luncheonette

    Image credit: YouTube

  • Paper Distribution – The Office 5 of 13
    The_office_US

    If Seinfeld was a show about nothing, The Office is a show about nothing much happening at work, hilariously. Like most workplaces, though, the actual drama was in the interpersonal relationships and power struggles that took place, with Dunder-Mifflin's particular brand of paper-based humor as a backdrop. "Beach Games" was my favorite working group activity episode of the whole series. 

     

    Image credit: Wikipedia

     

  • Ad Agency Execs – Mad Men 6 of 13
    Mad_Men_season_5_cast_photo

    I've been told that Mad Men paints a fairly accurate picture of a New York advertising agency in the 1960s, and in this case, the work is a central character, along with all the partners and employees of of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, and the people in their various and sundry personal lives. Don Draper's role as ad exec has reflected his personal ups and downs (what will this merger mean, after all? I don't think Season One or Two Don would have ever allowed it), and the evolution of characters like Peggy and Joan. I'm eager to see what this year means for these ladies, in particular. 

    Image credit: Wikipedia

  • City Employees – Parks and Recreation 7 of 13
    Parks_and_recreation_season_1_cast

    Leslie Knope, Ron Swanson, and their colleagues at the Pawnee, Indiana, Department of Parks and Recreation are an eccentric center of life in a sleepy Midwestern town. Last season saw Leslie take her campaign for City Councilwoman to a successful end, along with her now-husband Ben Wyatt. She's a busy lady who finally found time for love, because she fell in it. How will public office affect her job? Will it? (I'm not going to ask the "lean in" question, but you can, if you want to.) 

    Image credit: Wikipedia

  • Journalist – Mary Tyler Moore Show 8 of 13
    Ted_Knight_Ed_Asner_Mary_Tyler_Moore_Mary_Tyler_Moore_Show_1977

    She turned the world on with her smile, right? Oh, Mary. The Mary Tyler Moore Show featured the title character as the first never-married career woman on network television. She held down the newsroom at WJM so admirably that she became an icon for working women in pop culture. TV Land dedicated a statue to her in downtown Minneapolis, showing her throwing her hat in the air, as she did in every season's credits. 

    In the series finale, most of the main characters in the newsroom were laid off, years before that became the norm in traditional journalism. 

    Image credit: Public domain, via Wikimedia

  • TV Producers – 30 Rock 9 of 13
    30rock

    It's a weird world without 30 Rock, I admit it. This show about a show (sometimes within a show, right? I lost count) featured Liz Lemon as a hard-driving producer of TGS, a comedy show mildly reminiscent of her alma mater, Saturday Night Live. Production was always at the center of the action, along with executive office shenanigans, and the off-set lives of the stars and crew. I envied the writer's room hilarity on occasion, but I'm sure it's not that much fun in real life. Maybe. 

    Image credit: YouTube

  • Bartenders/ Waitresses – Cheers 10 of 13
    Cheers-cast

    Will there ever need to be another bar on television? I'm saying no, because Cheers symbolizes them all. Workplace for Sam, Diane, Carla, Woody, and later Rebecca, it was a watering hole, refuge, and (literal) therapist's office for patrons like Cliff, Norm, Frasier, and Lilith. 

    Exteriors were filmed at the original Cheers bar in Boston, where staff may or may not give you a Carla-style welcome. 

     

    Image credit: Wikipedia

     

  • Teacher/ Coach – Friday Night Lights 11 of 13
    Friday_Night_Lights

    Who's a better guidance counselor-slash-principal than Tami Taylor? A better coach than Eric? Nobody. I'm calling it.  

    When she says this

    "There's not a person in the world that could do this except for you. This is what you do. I've seen you do it with my own eyes. I believe in you. I believe in you with every cell of my being."

    You believe it. Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose. Can I go back to high school and have Mrs. Taylor be my counselor? I'd consider it. 

    Image credit: Wikipedia

     

  • Lawyer – The Good Wife 12 of 13
    the-good-wife

    Like most tv law firms, Stern, Lockhart & Gardner is the scene of big deals, legal intrigue, and the occasional attorney gone rogue. It's also the scene of some pretty cool lawsuits about intellectual property and other topics dear to this geek's heart. Alicia Florrick has become my favorite fictional attorney, hands down, on what I think is one of the most unsung shows on television!

     

    Image credit: YouTube

  • Food Truck – Arrested Development 13 of 13
    banana-stand

    "There's always money in the banana stand." 

    No matter what else the Bluths did to gain  — and attempt to reclaim — their fortune, it's their family banana stand that we love most of all. It takes the hits and keeps on getting rebuilt, much like the odd, awesome family at its helm. George Michael working the stand in the first season made me fall in love with his character, and the show, and never stop. Food service isn't for the weak-willed. I know this from tough experience. 

    Image credit: YouTube

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