• Wed, Oct 10 2012

From Firefighters To Social Workers — TV Professions From Most Cliche To Least

So let’s talk about something for a minute, television, and don’t interrupt me until I’m done. What’s with all the cliched professions all of a sudden? And not even all of a sudden, actually — like, since the beginning of time. Everybody on TV is either a doctor or a lawyer or a cop or a firefighter. Think about it. This all started because Chicago Fire is premiering tonight, which is a show where literally everyone is a firefighter. I started thinking about alllll the jobs on television, and came up with the theory that there are like, four. Four total jobs: doctor, lawyer, cop, or firefighter.  Seriously, it’s true. There are zero percent stock-brokers or research assistants or magazine editors or graphics designers or massage therapists or social workers. There’s absolutely no variety.It’s a fact.

But hey, if you don’t believe me, look at the other shows coming out this season. Justin Bartha plays a gynecologist on The New Normal. Mamie Gummer plays a doctor on Emily Owens, MD. The lady in Made In Jersey is a lawyer, as is Mitch on Modern FamilyAnimal Practice is a whole show about doctors…for animals, but still doctors. The guys on Partners co-own an architecture firm, which is just fancy enough to still be cliched, and even Mindy Kaling, who is a writer herself, writes herself onto her own show, The Mindy Project, as a doctor. Jigga what?

And what’s even more cliched about these high-powered jobs, is the amount of time their practitioners still have for a daily dose of drama in their lives. My understanding of being a lawyer or a doctor, particularly at a low level, which most of these young, beautiful people are, is that you have absolutely zero time for socializing. You put your time in at the bottom so you can get your training and justify it to yourself later when you’re making the big bucks. Regardless, you don’t have time to be developing a relationship arc with the guy who lives in your building, because you never see him because you get up too early and get back too late. You don’t get to go out drinking because you’re always on call or taking work home, and everyone knows doctors and lawyers aren’t supposed to work tipsy.

Slightly less cliched, like on the second rung of ‘cliche’ as defined by Dante’s Inferno is working in a restaurant, . There’s Kate on Ben and Kate, who’s a struggling bar manager. There’s 2 Broke Girls, who work at a restaurant, but it seems to be a wildly different sort of restaurant than the kind I work in, because their apartment is ginormous and in a beautiful area. It actually doesn’t seem to  matter whether you’re a doctor or a writer, or even unemployed, like Lena Dunham‘s Hannah Horvath on Girls is, frequently…you still get to have a spacious, quirkily furnished apartment in a super trendy neighborhood. You don’t see a lot of people living in Washington Heights, or Astoria, or Hoboken, or Hell’s Kitchen. Because those places are lovable yet grimy and no one wants to shoot an exterior there. It’s always the Upper West Side, or Brooklyn, or the East Village. So I ask you, parents, what’s really the point of me going to college to become a lawyer or a baker or a candlestick maker? Why can’t I just leave high school and go straight into the business of television, where I can be a waitress and live in a palatial apartment in Park Slope?

I want to learn my lessons from television and receive my neatly packaged career in medicine now, please. And thank you.

(Images: PopTower / The Portland Mercury / The AVC)

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