When the working world inspires TV shows and vice versa

The last couple of years have seen the increase in importance of the working world on TV. Whether it is reality TV shows or TV series, the workplace and career preoccupations now have a central role in the plots. Shows such as “The Apprentice” or “Undercover Boss” have become very popular and are followed by a large part of the population. It is the same with TV series like “Mad Men” and “The Good Wife” that are nowadays two of the most critically acclaimed drama series. So why are people so interested in work-related stories when most of us complain that we spend too much time in the office or that work is too stressful?

These shows and series talk about work-related topics that we can easily apply to our own everyday lives. Employment themes such as leadership, team work, career progression and HR management are always tackled and with them, the problems, interrogations and solutions that can arise. It is therefore interesting to follow these plots from an external point of view and transpose them in our own work environment. What is there to learn from them?



  • A good manager is someone who finds time to listen to his team members and respect them
  • He works hard to show his abilities and get the respect of his peers who admire him for his professional skills and knowledge
  • He keeps a certain distance due to his position but has always his door open if someone needs to talk
  • He has his team’s best interest at heart
  • He knows how to manage his team members to get the best out of them. Take Jethro’s management style in “NCIS” as an example.

Team dynamics

  • A successful team player can put aside his individual interests to focus on reaching the team’s goals
  • He is flexible, firm in his opinions yet open to new ideas
  • He is respectful and supportive
  • He is reliable and the other team members enjoy working with him
  • He knows his strengths and uses them to solve the team’s tasks




Career progression

  • Do your job well and become indispensable like Joan Holloway in “Mad Men”, who is the indispensable office manager of Sterling Cooper.
  • Know when to pick your battles. Stand out for what you believe in and discuss it with your manager if needed. He will appreciate your motivation and investment in the company.
  • Talk to your manager if something is wrong. Saying nothing and being frustrated will do more harm than good.
  • Do not follow your personal objectives at your colleagues’ expense. Learn how to shine while respecting your peers
  • Take risks. When a new career opportunity arises in another company, evaluate the risks and ask yourself if this role is what you want and if it’s going to give you new chances and skills. If so, then go for it! It’s what Pam Halpert did in “The Office” when she accepted Mifflin’s offer to become the assistant in his new start-up.
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