Lessons we can learn about the workplace thanks to Hollywood

March 24, 2016
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The idea of starting a new job can be daunting. There’s the thought of paperwork, the hours, or even just having to make friends with co-workers. It’s kind of like starting uni – it’s a whole new environment where you feel awkward at first. Different industries often have their own perks, and each workplace can offer a really fun experience. However, it’s hard to know what to expect when films and TV shows often exaggerate the portrayal of the workplace. Then again, sometimes they get it right.

The Internship

In most workplaces, teamwork is an important attribute that will help you succeed. While there’s usually a dictator, a slacker and a silent follower in group projects, it’s well-known that if you operate well in a team, you’re more likely to produce better work.

This example of teamwork is shown in the 2013 film The Internship. Two non-tech-savvy friends, Nick and Billy (who refer to “online” as “on-the-line”), decide to apply for an internship at Google. Throughout the film, the two idiotic best friends are isolated from their geeky colleagues who are trying to land a permanent job at the company. However, once the interns start to work together to complete the internship challenges, they actually start to improve… even with Billy’s “amazing app idea” that was the exact same concept as Instagram.

Lesson learned: Keep your colleagues close.


Depending on the type of job you’re looking for, workplace culture can be really fun – but sometimes it can just be hella boring. Some companies try to make work more interesting by giving workers a pool table in the staff kitchen or hosting a bunch of after-hours events, but nothing as extreme as the shenanigans allowed in the TV show Workaholics.

Let's just say that workplace culture is a longshot from reality. Three comical, drugged-up co-workers are the exact opposite of what the title of the TV series suggests. Adam, Blake and Ders, the co-working clowns of the telemarketing office, ride out some rather unusual activities. They carry clean urine samples into the office for drug test day, arrive to work intoxicated, and play with guns in the company building. Unfortunately, in the real world, any boss would pull the plug on you if you were camping out in the office taking ‘shrooms with your co-workers.

Lesson learned: Play it safe.

Horrible Bosses

A good workplace ethic is crucial, and even governed by laws on how employers and employees should behave. The hilarious comedy Horrible Bosses ridicules this workplace ethic with the crude and insensible behaviour of three awful bosses. One snorts a lot of cocaine, another is completely psychopathic, and the third assaults their employee in a disturbingly sexual manner. Are all superiors this cruel and immoral? I sure hope not.

Lesson learned: The idea of wanting to kill your boss? Time to change jobs.

The Devil Wears Prada

Taking initiative in the workplace is common sense if you want to do really well at your job, particularly if it’s a competitive field. The Devil Wears Prada shows what it’s like to take initiative in a competitive environment. Andy, a plain girl living in New York, wants to be a journalist. Despite her lack of fashion sense, she somehow miraculously lands an assistant job at Runway magazine, working for the Editor-in-Chief, Miranda Priestly.

There has been speculation as to whether or not the film is based on a true story, but regardless, the film is pretty accurate in its portrayal of the competitive drive you need to work for a highly prestigious New York fashion magazine. Miranda is one of the most frightening bosses in Hollywood film, and the message of taking initiative to succeed is highly realistic - especially in this workplace. Can you imagine the competition to work for the infamous Runway? As some of the characters in the film would say, "A million girls would kill for this job."

Lesson learned: Go above and beyond.

Claudia Siron

Claudia studies Media Arts and Production at the University of Technology, Sydney, is a major film and television fan, and her favourite director is Quentin Tarantino.

Image: The Internship official Facebook page