8 TV SHOWS FEATURING THE WORST WORKPLACES
Look no further than beloved TV shows for examples of workplaces so horrendous that there’s no redeeming them. We consulted past and present programming, comedies and dramas, critical darlings and public favorites, to compile our list of the shows with the worst organizational culture. Suffice it to say, you’d never want to work there.
The West Wing
Drawing us into the world of the White House, this intelligent political drama depicted an idealistic administration full of good people working to change America. The problem? They had no work-life balance. Long days regularly stretched into the wee morning hours, and storylines showed the immense difficulty of maintaining relationships alongside an all-consuming job.
This clever comedy taught us that you should always leave a note, but it also taught us about the perils of going into business with dysfunctional family members. Michael had a mess to clean up when his CEO father was carted off to prison for defrauding investors. The company underwent federal investigation, and Michael was passed up for promotion repeatedly so that his mother and incompetent brothers could occupy figurehead roles while he did all the work. No wonder he tried to move away with his son so much.
The show about nothing ventured into the work world quite a bit, finding hilarity in the mundane and absurd. Elaine suffered through dull, unfulfilling jobs (remember when she had to remove the salt crystals from Mr. Pitt’s pretzel sticks?) and getting fired for ridiculous reasons (remember when she said she hated The English Patient?). In this world, the workplace is a place where tedium and disaster meet. Not exactly a recipe for a fulfilling career.
Orange Is the New Black
Welcome to the workplace in prison. Each inmate is required to hold a job at Litchfield Penitentiary to keep it functioning. For instance, as a janitor, Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren has the pleasure of scrubbing down bathrooms and disposing of the prolific hair clumps found in the showers. No thanks. And the going wage for a prison job? $0.11 an hour.
House of Cards
A much darker portrayal of American politics than The West Wing, this workplace is a breeding ground for manipulation and deception. We watch Frank Underwood as he lies, schemes, and murders to worm his way into the White House. Jobs are precarious and dangerous, and advancement means being ruthless. It’s an engrossing world, but we sure wouldn’t want to work there.
Double-agent Sydney Bristow’s job subjected her to stress that should have figuratively and literally killed her. While working for the CIA, she maintained an elaborate cover at SD-6, pretending to drink the Kool-Aid and unable to tell anyone else not to drink it. She had to act chummy with a villainous boss. And making the right decisions always meant major sacrifices, sometimes deadly ones.
When it comes to the worst workplaces, the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant is Exhibit A. It narrowly escapes meltdowns several times and has blown up at least once. Mr. Burns refers to Sector 7-G as a “torture chamber.” The radiation there sterilizes workers, most notably Homer. Need we say more?
The quintessential workplace show from the 2000s, The Office painted us a hilarious picture of a dysfunctional corporate culture. It nailed every office trope you can think of. Painfully incompetent manager? Check. Mind-numbing environment? Check. Apathetic employees? Check. We fell in love with the oddball characters, but Dunder Mifflin symbolized all things soul-sucking in the corporate world.