is your field accurately portrayed in movies and on TV?

Let’s talk about how your field is represented — or more likely, misrepresented — on TV and movies or books. Are you a lawyer who’s horrified by legal dramas? A nurse who can’t stand to watch ER? A teacher who is trying to wrap your mind around Glee? Is there any media that does portray your profession correctly? Let’s discuss in the comments.

(This came up on a recent open thread and I thought it deserved a wider audience.)

{ 1,966 comments… read them below }

  1. Honor Harrington*

    My field (project and program management) isn’t portrayed on TV. Things just magically happen without any planning – and definitely without any realistic times.

    1. Cakeroll*

      I thought some of the depictions of project and product management in Silicon Valley (though played up for humor) were pretty spot-on!

      1. Cookies for Breakfast*

        Yes! The episodes where the sales team dictated what the product should do were some of the ones I laughed the most at, because at the job I had while I was watching it, those same dynamics were making me want to pull my hair out.

        Also spot-on in that show, the insistence on a boilerplate “making the world a better place” as a tech company mission.

    2. Cold and Tired*

      Agreed – it’s rare that the full scope of being a PM is shown on tv at all, probably because all the meetings/deadlines/budgets/status checks/readjusting deadlines/etc wouldn’t make for good tv. I feel like it shows up most in humor when they’re laughing at how meetings can swirl or how people throw random wrenches into projects thinking they know what is best when it’s completely unrelated and will actually pull the project off track.

      Also, since I work in healthcare PM primarily with radiology, I have the added benefit of wanting to cry inside every time they show actual physical film x-rays in shows and call them a CT. 1. No one has done actual film for at least 10-15 years in the us outside of a few very limited specialities/small clinics. 2. X-rays and CTs aren’t the same at all besides the fact that radiation is involved and it sees inside you. But the mechanism and output (and reason why you’d do each scan) is completely different. Sigh…….

      1. C*

        ooh hard agree I am a Medical Physicist; my specific area of Nuclear medicine imaging and radionuclide therapy just never come up in TV but seeing x-rays on lightboxes in anything set in the last decade drives me barmy. Also when they say something is a CT or CAT scan and it is clearly an MRI or the other way around.

    3. Ace in the Hole*

      Same here. I work in solid waste management (aka trash).

      You’ll see the occasional garbage truck driver on TV, but never the folks working at landfills/transfer stations/MRFs. Garbage just magically disappears with no work or environmental impacts.

      1. Ms. Yvonne*

        Ohhhh, solid waste management. “How many garbage men do you know who live in a house like this?”?!

      2. knxvil*

        One of my favorite movies is about waste management: Men at Work. It stars Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez. Highly recommend. :P

      3. MigraineMonth*

        I hope the part about constantly finding dead bodies in the garbage dumpsters isn’t accurate, either.

        1. Ace in the Hole*

          It’s rare, at least in my area, but it does happen sometimes. I expect it’s more common in places with very cold winters.

      4. Me ... Just Me*

        There was one episode of a mid-90’s show, “Monk” where the waste management folks were on strike and it was hilarious (and eye opening) about how quickly things turned into chaos as trash piled up.

        1. kicking-k*

          This happened in Scotland last summer and it was no joke. It was the height of the tourist season, so Edinburgh was full of visitors who couldn’t easily take all their rubbish back to a hotel room or whatever, and the place rapidly looked appalling. So yeah, it really did make a big difference.

    4. Ophelia*

      What’s funny is that my field (aid work/international development) IS portrayed in media, but always as war, espionage, or like some sort of crazy adventure when…90% of it is–you guessed it–project management.

      1. Crazy Plant Lady*

        YES! At least 50% of the time is paper pushing – grant proposals, report writing, external communications, etc. – even for those working in war, disaster, etc. And the rest of the time is meetings. It’s far less “sexy” than the media makes it seem.

    5. Abigail Hearns*

      Sorry, have to chime in to say I love the name – and that there are other David Webber fans here.

    6. Keyboard Cowboy*

      There’s an anime called “Shirobako” whose main(ish, it’s ensemble) character is a program manager at an anime studio. Highly recommend, I’m not a PgM but I work closely with them all the time and moonlight occasionally at $DAYJOB and I thought it captured the stresses and frustrations pretty accurately.

  2. Judge Judy and Executioner*

    The Office perfectly captured the highs and lows of working in an office. “If I don’t have some cake soon, I might die.” — Stanley Hudson

    1. Sloanicota*

      Yeah to be honest, as an office worker I have had plenty of moments where I feel like I work in The Office *looks directly at the camera.*

    2. Mark*

      Completely agree. Many people I know who work in offices love that show; friends who have never worked in an office generally don’t like it because they don’t “get” it.

        1. Event coordinator?*

          Yep the jokes hit a little too close to home. Dwight is hilarious because I’ve never had to deal with someone like him, but I’ve had a few Michaels and it’s just too cringe to enjoy.

      1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

        I watched Office Space with a guy who didn’t think it was funny at all, and while (of course) tastes vary it seemed to me that it was because he’d never worked in an office environment

        While I liked The Office, I didn’t love it because it was so cringe-y. Cringe humor sets off my body’s awkward-empathy alarms.

        1. Unkempt Flatware*

          It takes me 2 hours to get through one episode of I Love Lucy. At several cool-down laps around the house.

          1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

            Oooof. While watching something yesterday I actually said LA LA LA LA LA, loudly enough to drown out the volume, until the character finished embarrassing themselves! I do a lot of 10 second skips in streaming.

          2. Cold and Tired*

            I genuinely don’t know how I watched tv before I could pause it. The secondhand embarrassment gets so intense I also have to take breaks, so I’m with you on the cool down laps.

      2. kiwiii*

        I’m the opposite; the thought that there are early season Michaels running around somewhere cringes me right to nausea.

        1. Alexander Graham Yell*

          I worked for one and I had to take a break from The Office re-runs at the time – I loved the show but I couldn’t handle living with a mean Michael Scott and then watching one on TV.

      3. RussianInTexas*

        I’ve worked in the office my entire work life and I do not like it at all.
        I don’t like cringe humor.

    3. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

      I love it and it regularly makes me laugh, but as an HR manager some of the scenarios make me cringe! (And how Toby AND Holly were able to keep their jobs, I really don’t understand!)

    4. Snow Globe*

      I’d add the movie Office Space. “Somebody’s got a case of the Mondays.”—one person in every office I’ve ever worked at.

      1. NeedRain47*

        Also one person who’s really weirdly possessive about their office supplies even tho they belong to the employer….

        1. Chinookwind*

          Spoken like somebody who has never had their “good stapler” borrowed by someone only to have it replaced with a cheap one that breaks after every 3 uses or only staples less than 5 pages. I totally understand wanting to lay claim to a top of line Swingline.

        2. Mr. Shark*

          It’s not just one person, though. I think especially in places where you have cubicles, everything you have is what little you can scratch out. I’ve had my chair stolen before. Why? Because it was better than someone elses apparently. You should have some personal property for you office space. There’s no harm if someone borrows your stapler at your desk, but to take it? No, that’s not cool. I’ve had people try to steal my pens (which I brought from home). USB fans, other things like that, which may or may not be the company’s property.

      2. Corkey's Wife Bonnie*

        Oh gosh I worked with a guy just like that water with 37 pieces of flair but in an office setting…which was way worse. Heck he even looked like the actor.

    5. BBB*

      the office (and office space) are far too relatable for us corporate cogs
      i once worked in an office that held a meeting to talk about how we all had too many meetings…. the resolution was to add another regularly occurring mandatory meeting. I wish I were joking.

    6. Blinx*

      Exactly! Before the US version came out I binge watched the UK version. It took me a few episodes to see the humor because it was so depressingly accurate!!

      1. SweetTooth*

        Yes! The British version definitely leaned into the bleak side of things, whereas the American version has more levity. I wouldn’t have wanted to see more than the 12 episodes plus a special of the British office, but I fully enjoyed the American office all the way until Michael left.

    7. LU*

      When I got my first job out of college (customer service for an IT reseller), my little brother’s friend asked me what work was like. I told him it was like The Office but not funny.

    8. beanie gee*

      My husband, who has never worked in an office environment, said he didn’t like The Office because “it’s not realistic.” Me, who has only worked in an office environment, feels like it’s entirely too realistic.

    9. SurlyAF*

      Years ago I called in sick on a Monday because I was still feeling terrible after having oral surgery on Saturday. When I returned to work the next day, my boss asked if I was feeling better, requested details on the procedure, and then asked me to open my mouth so he could see what was done!! This was probably 2002, so before The Office aired. I hate the dentist named Crentist episode because that scene reminds me of that toxic boss.

      1. TeenieBopper*

        I think there’s a show called The Librarians. Don’t think they shelved a book that whole series either. Is your job like that?

          1. kicking-k*

            My kids have a running joke that this is what I do. I’m not even a librarian ! (I’m an archivist.)

        1. 'calla-Kid*

          Well, Libraries and Librarians are magic to me, but not the way The Librarians portray them!! That would be so cool….

          1. janestclair*

            Fellow archivist here! I usually find myself saying “that’s not how any of this works” when I see archives-related stuff in pop culture. Parks and Rec is one of my favorite shows, but the episode where Chris sends Tom to “digitize the entire city archives” makes me ragey every time.

      2. Lavender*

        I work part-time in a university library—my title is literally “shelver” and I don’t shelve as many books as librarians do on TV.

        1. Onelia*

          I used to oversee shelving in an academic library, but that work was mostly done by students and very little volume. I still work in the library but now my life revolves around Excel sheets, budgets, and intellectual property concerns. Not at all what people would expect!

          1. Lavender*

            Yeah, all the shelvers where I work (myself included) are grad students. Mostly I just do miscellaneous admin work, some of which is shelving but there’s a lot of other stuff too.

          2. Sara without an H*

            I recently retired from Tiny College Library. We hired students to do all the shelving. The cataloger who supervised them developed a pretty nifty training program to get them up to speed in Dewey.

            1. Firestar*

              Dewey Readmore Books?

              anyone else know who im talking about here? knowing this site there has to be

        2. Elf on Which Shelf*

          I’m glad it’s called a shelver now. I used to be a “page” and lost track of how many times people asked, “In which book?”

          1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

            In the research library where I worked, pages fetched books from the shelves and shelvers returned them. But with a small staff, everyone shelved first thing in the morning before we opened to the public.

            My son is a shelver in a public library, but I think he does some other odd jobs, too.

      3. ASneakierMailman*

        Also a librarian who rarely sees librarians accurately portrayed in media (more as obsolete boring desk-warmers). HOWEVER. The movie “The Public” was pretty spot on in my opinion, the major exception being that there would be far fewer men staffing a public library from my experience ;-)

          1. Seal*

            I attended a screening of “The Public” at the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting in 2019. The audience of mostly librarians loved it, which is a pretty good indication. Emilio Estevez did a Q&A afterwards and he was great. Highly recommend.

        1. Carol the happy elf*

          With glasses. Older librarians also have sweaters buttoned at the top, arms out, and the glasses have a chain that holds them like a weird necklace.

          I did work/study in college, and worked in the Children’s section. (The education majors, the psych majors and the early childhood development were always in there, as were the kids who were in the college’s “Daycare and Guinea Piglet” program.
          I must have shelved 500 kiddie books a day!

          1. Firestar*

            wait did they get to meet baby guinea pigs? THAT’S AMAZING!!!!!!

            no I’m not deranged, no matter what Terry Pratchet would have you believe

            1. kicking-k*

              Despite the five, no, six exclamation marks?

              I’d sign up for anything that involved baby guinea pigs.

      4. another Hero*

        I’m a librarian too and the first thing I think of is the movie The Librarian, which my school librarian when I was a kid showed us every year. yep I definitely hang out with Excalibur. (but in any case, no lol I’m a programmer; sending emails to all kinds of random people and showing members of the public how to attach things to their emails would be boring tv)

        1. Lenora Rose*

          I think the show the Librarians is actually spun off the movie, but the movie is much less known, and I haven’t seen it to be sure.

          1. David*

            There was actually a whole trilogy of movies! Plus the show, which was indeed spun off from them. They’re all quite silly (I mean, not remotely realistic or even logically consistent), of course, but very entertaining if you like that kind of fantasy content.

            1. LobsterPhone*

              Stana Katic is a vampire in one of them – highly recommend a watch just for her having some fun with it :)

      5. Snarky Librarian*

        Same. Nor have I ever sat and read a book while on the job, unless you count the manuals for the various printers that have haunted me throughout my career.

        1. ConstantlyComic*

          I very briefly read at the desk while we were curbside-only during the pandemic, but once we opened the building back up to the public, out branch manager put the kibosh on anything not strictly work-related happening where patrons could see

      6. baffled*

        Library staff does that. All the work people think librarians do, while librarians at my workplace tend to hide from anything hands on.

      7. Felicity Lemon*

        I always liked how Desk Set – the 1950s Katharine Hepburn-Spencer Tracy film – captured some of the vibe of working in corporate libraries, and also remarkably anticipated the question of how automation could change & even eliminate the job. Now, many parts of the plot (drinking/ parties/ romance) are way out of date, but the portrayal of how the staff comes up with ‘magic’ answers, the teamwork involved, and even the office politics, were nicely captured, I thought.

        1. Grey Panther*

          Seconding you re the teamwork/politics, Felicity. This is one of my favorite films, and I also always liked the fact that Tracy’s and Hepburn’s characters were at least in their mid-30s.
          Have to say, though, that I was in the corporate world in the early-mid 1960s, tangentially entertainment-related, and that Christmas party does look kinda familiar …

      8. whyisyourbooksticky*

        School librarian here. Pretty sure if I showed what my day actually looks like in a middle school it would be less believable than anything Hollywood could come up with.

        1. Water is the enemy of books*

          School librarian. Exactly. And let’s talk about the stress and anxiety of book challenges. From the Right and the Left.

        2. Mrs. D*


          High school librarian here. There’s so much more that happens here than I’ve ever seen portrayed in any movie or TV. This is definitely not always a quiet space.

      9. Numbers numbers numbers*

        Amazed no one has mentioned Party Girl yet on the librarian front! The only super accurate bit it as the end, though, when Parker Posey is whipping out all the big old reference books.

      10. ineedaname*

        Rural librarian. I’m actually astonished how many librarians don’t do any shelving. Here, everyone shelves when it gets busy.

        I’ve never seen a movie that accurately reflect small, rural libraries. (To be fair, I don’t watch much TV.)

      11. wendelenn*

        Fellow non-shelving librarian here. I love the movie It’s a Wonderful Life but despise that the worst thing that could possibly happen to Mary without George is that she becomes a stereotypical “spinster librarian!

        1. Jules*

          “She’s just about to close up the library!” is a running joke in our family as my mom retired a couple of years ago from being the county librarian in our small town.

      12. Anon for this*

        I started my career as a trainee in an Oxbridge college library (basically a library assistant who’s given additional professional training). Being junior, my job did involve a lot of the things people think of as librarian stuff – shelving, stamping books, and not exactly shushing people but definitely sticking my head round the odd corner and giving students who were being too loud a ‘look’ so they’d settle down and let their fellow students study in peace. And there were definitely some eccentrically dressed colleagues.

        Currently a corporate librarian and we don’t own a single book – it’s all research, databases, business cases, and myself and my colleagues are indistinguishable from our professional colleagues. I love my job and coming up with magic answers to research questions, but do sometimes miss the uniqueness of where I started out

        1. Librarian beyond the Shelves We Know*

          Also a librarian, and I always feel like my entire job is spreadsheets, emails, and asking “Have you tried clearing your cache and cookies?”

    1. Dust Bunny*

      I think the closest I’ve seen is on PBS and even they seem to always find what they need in a few minutes instead of spending hours/days/weeks/months/lifetimes combing through stuff. Or completing their search quickly but only because none of the material available was relevant.

      1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

        Our library was used for an episode of one of those PBS shows. Of course our staff did all the research ahead of time, and the cast of the show just pretended to do it from the material we had pulled and flagged for them, and showed it to them and coached them before filming began.

      2. Aitch Arr*

        This is what annoys me about most of those ‘Find Your Roots’/’Who Am I?’ shows.

        We know the librarians/archivists/genealogists have been researching for months in advance!

        1. Also Cute and Fluffy!*

          Movies and television that perpetuates the invisibility of archival labor is a major pet peeve of mine. “I discovered it in the dusty archives” sets my teeth on edge.

          And nobody even thinks about how archivists who are responsible for acquiring collections can have an emotional component to the work, when the creators themselves are actively preparing for their archival legacy they are at the end of their career or at the end of their life.

    2. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      There’s a film called Shooting the Past that might be interesting to you. No idea if it’s an accurate representation or not, but I remember really enjoying it.

    3. Similar Sitch*

      Another archivist/librarian here. And yup, nobody portrays what we do properly.
      I’ve shelved plenty of books in my life but *never* when I had the title of librarian ;)

    4. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

      Wait, you mean you don’t, like, fight evil magical entities to locate and protect ancient documents of great power?
      (I’m a librarian. I feel your pain.)

        1. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

          It’s mostly a joke (mostly?)…they’re monstrous beings who guard the Public Library and make entering it a dangerous endeavor. The kids who survive the Summer Reading Program end up forming a teen militia and Book Club (where they use Books as Clubs). In some later episodes, though we find out that part of the librarians insatiable bloodthirst is due to unfair workplace practices (like changing their job descriptions without even a review or pay raise), and they decide to form a union.

          1. My Cabbages!*

            In the book series “Alcatraz vs the Evil Librarians”, the Librarians secretly control the world. They also have an enormous vault under Washington DC that holds a copy of everything ever written, which has a self-destructive system that floods the place with lava.

            That’s accurate, right?

          2. MigraineMonth*

            I was part of a post-apocalypse role-playing game where the Librarians were a warrior cult that lived in the Library, scoured the world for surviving books, let anyone read any book in their collection, sent expeditions into the incredibly dangerous stacks, periodically had berserker rages where they harvested town folk to use their skins as parchment, and tattooed their life stories into their own skins for later binding into a book.

      1. SW*

        As a librarian I second this. Or maybe it’s just how I’m demonized from the outside when I tell people they can’t eat lunch in our academic library (bugs like cockroaches will eat paper if hungry enough so it’s important to keep them out).

      1. Professional Lurker*

        And another! Whoo!

        More seriously, though, never seen an accurate depiction of our job, and rarely of a researcher in an archive. Even my beloved LotR makes me *hurt* with the scene of Gandalf smoking and drinking in Gondor’s archives.

        1. kicking-k*

          They actually showed that scene during my archives training as a “how many no-nos can you spot?” exercise.

    5. MagentaPanda*

      Academic librarian here: I rarely reshelve a book; don’t read the books in our collection on the job; I don’t think I’ve ever shushed anyone in my career; my hair isn’t in a bun; I like to think I’m not uptight; and I don’t wear support hose :-)

        1. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

          There are definitely times I have Committed To The Aesthetic–cardigan, bun, glasses, glasses chain.

        2. MagentaPanda*

          Good question, Richard. Even though I am *ahem* over a certain age, I don’t need reading glasses. My glasses are primarily for distance, and they’re not on a chain :-). I tell you, it’s fun trying to teach or chair a meeting where I’m constantly flipping my glasses on/off (off to read the agenda/notes; on to see students in the back row).

          1. LobsterPhone*

            I have just this week started wearing reading glasses and feel like I have entered my final form as a librarian. Enjoying looking over the top of them at colleagues, waving them around as I talk, whipping them off in exasperation when interrupted and anticipating the deployment of a thoughtful ‘hmm’ while tapping them against something.

      1. Sara without an H*

        Same here. But I do wear wrist braces, since all the years I spent online left me wrist issues.

      2. Kaisa (The Librarian)*

        Public librarian, and I’ve actually been shushed by patrons (more than once)… I work with teens though, so I have had to ask them to keep it down, but that’s usually when it’s getting to the dull roar stage.

        1. Jean Pargetter Hardcastle*

          I have never once said “shh” when asking a patron to lower their volume. I have had multiple patrons tell me to shush.

      3. Tuna Casserole*

        We actually had ‘no shushing’ put into our policies, and the director had signs made that said so.

    6. Kash*

      I am a librarian for a law firm, and I cannot think of a legal drama that knew we existed despite law being a research heavy field a lot of the time.

        1. boo bot*

          They definitely had archives, but I don’t remember if there was a particular archivist/librarian character apart from maybe Wesley in season 5.

          But I realize as I type this that, of course, Buffy had a librarian character, although Giles’ workday probably involved more combat training than is considered average.

        2. kitryan*

          There indeed was an archivist/files person and
          1) the character basically had some sort of mind link to the archive or *were* the archive and could search/find/recite any info from the archive ‘hands free’. They did a cool special effect on her eyes to show the data retrieval happening
          2) they were played by the same actress as Flo from the Progressive insurance commercials.

      1. MedLibinMA*

        Another Medical librarian in a hospital here. Half the people in the hospital don’t know I exist. But when I started 90% didn’t which is still fewer than the 99.9% outside of the hospital. I just told someone last night I was a medical librarian and they said “oh you get books for the patients?” hahahahaha

      1. Timothy (TRiG)*

        The archivist uppermost in my mind is everyone’s favourite Gary Brannon, Gary Brannon, so serious historical knowledge coupled with fart jokes.

    7. old but recently minted archivist*

      I do wear cardigans and cats eye reading glasses, but that’s for Fashion. Afaik, it’s not an actual job requirement.

      1. Critical Rolls*

        I think librarians as a group tend to dress practically. It’s just a misperception that that that also means frumpy!

      2. Kash*

        My favorite moment at work was on Halloween when someone came dressed as a “librarian” and I watched an unknowing librarian walk over to her, tell her how much she loved her cardigan, and then after a long, thoughtful pause and with much despair, asked “That’s your costume, isn’t it?”

      3. Crunch*

        My academic library actually bought the whole staff logo cardigans. Coming over from public libraries where my operational job skills mostly focused on conflict deescalation, biohazard cleanup and public assistance tool navigation it was kind of a pleasant shock.

    8. Mother of Corgis*

      There is a horror podcast called Magnus Archives that is mainly about an archivist, but I doubt its at all accurate given the horror aspect lol.

      1. SW*

        I for one am glad our special collections department said no to collecting books bound in human skin but not every library was that ethical. There’s also the horror of how many libraries and collections still have nonconsensual human remains.

      2. Agnes Montague*

        Exactly none of the archives staff know anything about archives (which does get lampshaded at one point!), but lbr that’s very much by design…

      3. Tim Stoker*

        One time on twitch Johnny (the writer and star) said “I didn’t do any research on archives for this” and the chat was a waterfall of “WE KNOW.”

          1. Tim Stoker*

            oh 100% that’s why I was watching the twitch streams :D light banter, plus he researched nearly everything else

    9. Miss V*

      You mean you don’t put lemon juice on the back of the Declaration of Independence to search for secret maps like they did in National Treasurw?

    10. Holly*

      Librarian here, and yeah same. So many stereotypes, so little time… really though if they showed what my job was, it would just be half of the week in meetings and the other half in word or excel documents. Not exactly riveting material haha.

    11. Bunny Watson*

      Also a librarian, and just love how librarians on TV hand over circulation records to the police without batting an eye.

      1. Ev*

        Or gossip to randos about what people check out! I have to stop whatever I’m watching for a five minute rant every time that happens on a movie/show.

      2. Tuna Casserole*

        I laughed out loud at a cop show where a librarian says they keep a record of every site accessed on public computers and then happily handed that over to the police.

        1. Librarian of Many Hats*

          I have yelled at the TV, “That’s not how this works!” It was an episode of Law & Order. I expect better from them. I’d have let it go if it were any other franchise.

          As for reading on the job…I wish. I’m an environmental librarian embedded in a university research unit. I read a lot for my job (on the clock even) but it isn’t for fun. I mostly spend the day on my computer, which does not make for exciting TV. I’m all about a good cardigan and comfortable shoes though.

        2. TomatoSoup*

          Yeah. I seem to recall a group of librarians very vocally pushing back on legislation concerning that very topic.

    12. Yowza*

      You mean people solving cold cases and otherwise delivering justice to the world aren’t always stopping in to ask the question that leads to the evidence that solves the case?

      1. Another librarian*

        My library totally had a guy working in the computer lab and printing stuff out for his private investigation business. The guy appeared to do mostly insurance fraud and divorce / custody cases.

      1. Myrin*

        The archive I started working in in November is indeed dusty but that’s a bug, not a feature! (And yes, I am slowly working my way through getting everything un-dusted, making sure all the boxes are properly closed (!) etc. but man, the look I sport sometimes after rummaging around there all day only lacks the cobwebs…)

      2. Crunch*

        The FDLP stacks where I used to work had a post it that said “Dusted 6/96” high up on three ranges. I started in October of 2016.

    13. SeluciaMD*

      It’s more of a sci-fi show but I’d be curious to hear your take on Archive 81. The main character is an archivist who works on things like digitizing things previously on film, or restoring and/or preserving old film footage of varying mediums for the Museum of the Moving Image in NYC. Having no idea of what that job might look like in real life, it…..felt…accurate? LOL.

    14. Tomato Frog*

      Best portrayal I’ve seen was in the film Enough Said where James Gandolfini plays an AV archivist. It doesn’t show much of his work, but when Julia Louis-Dreyfus asks him what he does, he says dubiously “Do you really want to know?” in the exact tone I have used when people ask me about my work. When she assures him that she does, he lists some things archivists actually do, which is good. But the delivery of “Do you really want to know?” spoke to my archivist soul.

    15. just some guy*

      You’ve never had to hold things together for a century because your boss got trapped in a magic circle in place of his sister?

      1. Random European*

        Honestly, I spent half the tv show wondering why Lucienne is so eager to keep running things. The library of Dream just reappeared, presumably with most of the 20th century’s additions and all of the 21st’s. And she does not seem to have any staff. There’s cataloguing to do, damnit.

        1. kicking-k*

          Maybe the catalogue appeared along with them? But then again, it might be the catalogue plus all possible catalogues, which wouldn’t be very helpful.

    16. calcifer*

      I’m a public librarian and my favorite fictional public librarians are the terrible ones from Parks and Rec. It’s not a very accurate portrayal unless you have the misfortune of working for a really awful library but I do think it’s funny.

      1. Jean Pargetter Hardcastle*

        I do think Parks & Rec is a pretty accurate reflection in a lot of ways of what it’s like to work for municipal government.

        1. calcifer*

          Agreed! I had a coworker who was a first time municipal government employee and she told me that my work stories reminded her of the resident forum scenes from Parks and Rec.

      2. Ash*

        Saaaaame! The most accurate part of that show is the bizarre animosity between Libraries and Parks & Rec, but that might only apply to our region, specifically.

    17. Safety First*

      I believe Henry from The Time Traveler’s Wife is an archivist. Honestly, I have blocked the movie out, so I have no idea if it even came up, but his love of the collection and interactions with coworkers figures prominently in the (amazing) book.

    18. LCH*

      Ok, I just saw a French show last night that involved the police records department. The storage area, work area, and how to request materials all looked pretty accurate. They also gave a layman’s description of the records lifecycle where some were destroyed after a period of time and some were archived.

    19. kicking-k*

      Me too – I’m always amused by the way that archivists on fictional shows always know whatever they’re being asked right away (I think the peak of this was the archivist on *Angel*, but then she was quite likely either a demon or had a contract with the powers of evil, so…)

      Quite a few archivists I know have been on “Who Do You Think You Are?” which, though a bit more accurate, does tend to give people the impression that even in an archive with a public reading room, we will do your research for you.

  3. EMP*

    My background is in machine vision and while very recently machine learning has enabled “computer, enhance” a lot more effectively, nearly any kind of computer-enabled visualizer is wildly out of proportion. If anyone remembers the Angelator on Bones…I know (hope?) people understood that as a plot mechanic but it still made me sigh a little inside.

    1. Catwhisperer*

      Love Bones, also loved the magical holograms coming out of the Angelatron towards the end of the series.

    2. ScruffyInternHerder*

      Favorite show and yes, I took that thing to be a definite plot device rather than….reality.

    3. Blujay*

      I hear you- There are many things on Bones that made me sigh as someone who studied bio archaeology. I had to be in the right mood to watch it.

      1. Jean Pargetter Hardcastle*

        My spouse and I are rewatching Bones currently and keep saying “This…this can’t be right, right?” (Neither of us has ever worked in anything remotely adjacent to law, law enforcement, psychology, or science.)

    4. Mr. Cajun2core*

      I do remember the Angelator. I was in IT for years but not in that area and it was obvious that it was not accurate.

    5. Anonariffic*

      I do video forensic work and “computer, enhance” is the bane of my existence. There is no magic wand filter that I can wave to get you a readable license plate number on 240p video where the entire car passing in the distance is only 4 or 5 pixels wide! It’s just not there!

      1. Mr. Shark*

        haha, well you’re just not good at your job, are you! :)
        I wish we could have that level of computer enhancement (sometimes). Other time it might just get you into trouble!

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      Castle once had a bit where the suspect’s face was reflected in something, so they tried to enhance it, and… it didn’t work. I’m so used to TV portraying “here’s a smudge with 5 pixels, press a couple of buttons and you have a headshot.”

    7. ChemistbyDay*

      I loved the Angelatron! But even as someone with zero background, I could see it was 1000% not realistic. Especially being designed by an artist….

      1. As Close As Breakfast*

        That was my favorite part of it all, lol. Angela acted like, and was treated like, she was totally different from the other squints and ‘just an artist.’ Yet… she completely developed this super advanced and amazing Angelatron?!?! In my book that makes her a totally amazing super squint!

    8. Twix*

      Mathematical modeling specialist here, and same. My two biggest pet peeves are “Match a low-resolution still photo of a skyline to a location? Sure, this’ll be a great test of the 2D to 3D mapping tool of the entire planet I threw together this weekend” and “Sure, I can run the simulation using a duffel bag instead. Let me just pull up my duffel bag database. Did you have a particular manufacturer, material, and factory in mind?” It drove me nuts that Angela was portrayed as the “normal” one among geniuses even though in the real world she’d easily be the most accomplished.

    9. Snarkus Aurelius*

      I always roll my eyes at Law & Order: SVU where they quickly enhance some blurry ATM photo and it’s crystal clear in five seconds.

  4. Up and Away*

    The HR person I can remember seeing is Toby from The Office!! And he seemed kind of beaten down, LOL. I can relate.

    1. ThatGirl*

      You might enjoy Mythic Quest on Apple TV+, which is a workplace comedy about a video game development company. The poor HR lady!

      1. Amber T*

        I absolutely love Mythic Quest. For me, it’s the head of Customer Feedback (I can’t remember her actual title). Having played an MMORPG for a good chunk of my life, I can only imagine the horrors someone in that role goes through. I love how she’s always so preppy and cheery while describing the awfulness she’s on the receiving end of. No spoilers for the latest season, but she has the *funniest* scene with David.

    2. Bumblebee Mask*

      I work specifically in benefits and the Health Insurance episode almost made me stop watching. I kept thinking that’s not remotely at all how that works.

      That’s also the reason I almost stopped watching Son’s of Anarchy. Murdering people in cold blood I’m apparently fine with, but Tig getting turned away from the hospital ER because they didn’t take his insurance was a line that couldn’t be crossed. :D

    3. Constance Lloyd*

      The au breakable Kimmy Schmidt has a delightful scene in which one of the characters asks to with “Linda in HR” and in response is asked, “Which one?”

      (The overarching plot of the episode can be summarized as, “Who names a baby Linda!?” and all of the Linda’s in HR indeed used nicknames when they were younger.)

      1. Middle of HR*

        I think about the Lindas all the time! I am not one literally, but I feel like a Linda some days, in my HR heart.

  5. old curmudgeon*

    Well, it seems as though accountants are usually portrayed either as buffoons in green eye-shades and sleeve garters or else as criminal masterminds, which I would like to think is not an accurate depiction of my profession.

    But then, I’m just not sure it would be possible to develop a riveting storyline based on designing and building cost allocation definitions, so a certain amount of hyperbole in depicting accountants is likely understandable.

    1. Boring...*

      Ugh, no one would want to watch the true to life portrayal of the most boring job in the world. And, yes I have been accountant for 20 years.

      1. old curmudgeon*

        I’ve always heard that it’s actuaries who have the most boring job in the world, with accountants coming in a close second, but there’s honestly not much difference between the two.

        1. Grammar Penguin*

          I don’t know, actuarial science is about quantifying the likelihood of unlikely events. That could be pretty fun, or at least interesting, if you have the math skills for it.

        2. Elenna*

          As an actuary, I can 100% guarantee that nobody, including me, wants to watch a realistic movie about my job.

          1. EJ*

            I used to use the Ben Stiller movie “along came polly” to introduce the idea of what an actuary is, and then say that it isn’t at all what I do, lol. But now no one remembers that movie! My kids do love that there is a super villain called The Actuary!

      2. RJ*

        I know what you mean. The only times it’s been portrayed in some sort of ‘excitement’ is on procedural shows like Law & Order where some crime has taken place. It’s surprising to note that money laundering wasn’t on my school’s curriculum, but according to L&L, almost all of those accountants studied it. They must have been forensic accounting majors.

      3. Dramatic Accounting*

        The thing about accounting is that it applies to literally every industry and location, and believe me, it can get very interesting at times. Speaking as an accountant whose bank branch was attacked by protesters with flaming tires this morning, in a country whose currency is devaluing so fast that prices are changing daily (if not multiple times a day). But I appreciate that nonetheless, this job is probably still not what the media will choose to dramatise.

      1. Chaos*

        Yes, that was my last job and its not anywhere other than used in that Ben Stiller movie where he used a risk program to tell him how risky a client was for life insurance.

      2. Grammar Penguin*

        Well, there is Double Indemnity, a 1944 film directed by Billy Wilder, co-written by him and Raymond Chandler, is the story of murder plot and life insurance fraud scheme. Stars Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, and the legendary Edward G. Robinson. It’s great drama and practically defines the film noir genre, and a detail of the insurance policy is a key plot point and right there in the title.

        Now that I think of it, the protagonist/antihero was an insurance salesman and the antagonist was his co-worker, the company adjuster. Their boss, the one who sweated bullets over every dollar the company ever had to pay out, may have been the underwriter but my memory is unclear. So your point stands.

        1. Luca*

          Not about insurance, but DI contains a legendary visual error that Billy Wilder knowingly did for storytelling purposes.

          Fred MacMurray’s apartment door opens outward into the corridor, which then as now violates fire safety codes. Wilder took this bit of dramatic license to get the scene where Robinson unexpectedly shows up at MacMurray’s apartment, right after McMurray has told Stanwyck to come on over.

        2. Just a guy in an office*

          I was just thinking of Double Indemnity, since I watched it just a couple of months ago.

      3. merula*

        YUP!!! P&C Underwriter here. I have to constantly explain that it’s not Life & Health, it’s like your house/car insurance, but no, I don’t know anything about personal lines.

        There’s a brief bit in The Incredibles where Mr Incredible’s boss talks about how they work in insurance, though it seems to be Claims. And then in Zootopia there’s a kid who says they want to be an actuary, only the description sounds like they meant accountant. But no one’s ever an underwriter.

    2. A Simple Narwhal*

      Any thoughts on Ben in Parks and Rec? He’s an accountant, plus I love Barney/the accounting firm he keeps almost working for and they get so excited and then devastated each time he accepts and then has to back out.

      1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

        Ben is actually pretty accurate IMO. I don’t work in accounting but do work on a team that does a lot of calculations/math. We were recently at a conference for our entire larger department that included more sales, recruiting, and marketing people. We had recently joined that division after being under finance for many years due to a company report, so we didn’t know what to expect. There was an evening dinner that also had DJ and a Photo Booth, Jenga, and other games like that. It was far too loud for my team, so we found a quiet conference room and my grandboss had brought a strategy type card came and we played that. We did joke we were a bit like Barney and the other accountants when they got Cones of Dunshire.

      2. Mefois*

        I’m an accountant and can confirm that Ben is absolutely the most accurate portrayal of an accountant I’ve ever seen. And accountants do actually love dumb accounting puns. I have a cross stitch hanging in my cube that says “it’s accrual world” and always get compliments on it.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        My SO & I have both worked in local government. So much truth in Parks & Rec about what that’s like.

    3. Warrior Princess Xena*

      An older one that I enjoyed was the accountant from The Untouchables, a movie about the bringing down of Capone. He got so excited about the prospect of bringing Capone down through… taxes.

      On a slightly different note, I thought the Untouchables ALSO did a really good job of portraying Capone & organized crime at the time; a veneer of good citizenship hiding the nastiness that was the crime organization.

      1. Scandinavian Vacationer*

        Loved the movie The Laundromat (Meryl Streep) and also The Queen of Horses. Would be interested to hear an accountant’s perspective on these 2 films.

        1. k*

          “All the Queen’s Horses” is a fascinating movie to me, for two reasons: one, I work in accounting; and two, I’m one degree away (a la Kevin Bacon) from the woman who’s the subject of the movie. It’s also the only interesting movie I know of about my field of work.

          I have long giggled at the very cliche dig at “so-and-so from accounting” as a reference to a stick-in-the-mud coworker or unattractive coworker, and I would love for someone who’s very good with internet searching to tell us when it entered the lexicon!

        2. Warrior Princess Xena*

          I have found that in general the films specifically done to show major frauds tend to be accurate but slightly overdramatized, usually in the scenes where ‘self-justification’ is being portrayed. From my discussion with a forensic auditor college professor and a number of other professionals the slippery slope tends to be a lot more internal and sometimes unacknowleged.

          “The Big Short” was on our syllabus in my upper level accounting class and I think the only reason Queen of Horses wasn’t was because it was relatively new (it came out in 2017 I think?)

    4. Lizzo*

      What about forensic accountants? Surely there’s some possible drama and intrigue in that part of the profession!

      1. kendall^2*

        Not a movie/TV portrayal, but in Carrie Vaughn’s _After the Golden Age_, the daughter of two superheroes, who is not a superhero herself, is a forensic accountant. I don’t have enough inside knowledge to know how accurate the portrayal is (and while it is part of the plot, it isn’t the whole plot).

      2. Hannah Lee*

        There was The Accountant that Ben Affleck movie where I think that’s what his character was. At least the legal side of his work.

        1. Fitz*

          Some accountant friends and I went to see that movie as a joke (I made Bingo cards), but there was ONE scene where he and Anna Kendrick finally find the transactions/evidence they’re looking for and god the excitement felt so familiar.

        2. SINE*

          I worked in forensic accounting for almost a decade years and what got me the most about that movie was how 1) they set him up in a beautiful windowed conference room and 2) all the documents were produced overnight, all neatly organized in boxes. Pretty sure I yelled OH COME ON at the screen.

    5. MJ*

      They only bother portraying us if there’s a specific reason, so it’s either an impediment (buffoon who can’t do anything right) or the criminal mastermind who is skimming funds.

      Never mind that accountant covers a lot of different jobs (auditor, tax accountant, controller, finance manager) that don’t really do the same thing.

      1. Grammar Penguin*

        I read a while back that the FBI employs more forensic accountants than they do field agents. So you’d think there’s some potential drama in their stories.

        1. Warrior Princess Xena*

          Oh there is! The challenge that comes up in portraying it in film is twofold:

          1. Usually we see forensic accounting as it ties to a specific case/fraud – for some good examples, All the Queen’s Horses, the Big Short, Bad Blood, or The Smartest Guys in the Room are all related to recent cases. In a lot of these the focus tends to be on the fraudsters and the overall history of the fraud, especially when the fraudsters themselves are very compelling studies in human psychology.

          2. The actual process of forensic accounting is incredibly tedious. Usually it involves huge amounts of dataset analysis, interviews with office staff, and endless tracking down of invoices, receipts, confirmations with banks, etc. So it tends to be condensed into some snippets of activity, especially the ‘ah-HA’ moments when all the information coalesces, but not a lot of the actual process.

          My read is that it’s not inaccurate, just slightly dramatized for film and without the portrayal of the days and weeks of reviewing documents that actually is behind all those ah ha moments.

      2. SeluciaMD*

        And according to the ridiculous (but entertaining) Ben Affleck movie “The Accountant”, they can not only be geniuses that help criminal masterminds, they can be geniuses that ferret out criminal masterminds, and also be snipers/contract killers?

        I thought the way the forensic accountant investigators from the Treasury Department were portrayed in that movie was interesting, but I think a lot of that had to do with the fact that the primary one was played by JK Simmons and I pretty much love anything he’s ever done.

    6. learnedthehardway*

      I did see a movie once about a forensic accountant who worked for organized crime – The character was an autistic accountant who had gotten put in prison on a manslaughter conviction (I think), and somehow ended up learning accounting from a mob accountant who had been imprisoned.

      Anyway, it was somewhat interesting but there was not a whole lot of actual accounting done in it.

      1. Fitz*

        He did handwrite all his figures on conference room windows instead of using a spreadsheet and that was, um, very visually striking.

    7. Esus4*

      There’s a really good Dick Francis mystery starring an accountant. He shows how satisfying the work can be (as he does with all of the professions he explores).

    8. Rose*

      I feel like accountants are always the uptight person in the rom com who meets the wild irresponsible person and their dog and has to learn who to relax

      1. Dedicated1776*

        In my experience, accountants are some wild mfs (been one for 18 years, so I know a few). But there is a hive mind for sure. There’s an early episode of the original Tick cartoon where Arthur is at his accounting job wearing his moth suit and his boss tells him to take it off because his “rampant display of individuality is making the other accountants nervous” and I think I’ve hardly heard anything truer about my people.

    9. Moby Duck*

      You mean to say that you *don’t* run a side hussle as a detective/assassin?!?

      (As in the film The Accountant starring Ben Afflick and Anna Kendrick)

    1. reject187*

      Same. I mourn the lack of professionalism in most TV schools. But I suppose without some type of scandal there wouldn’t be anything to watch. I avoid school-based shows entirely because I keep a running commentary on why it’s completely illogical how “thing” could be allowed to happen.

      1. Meep*

        I am not saying it is a good thing, but some of my college professors have definitely acted like they are on a TV show.

        1. Very Anon For This*

          I don’t know – that time I got high with my thesis advisor reminded me a LOT of the Donald Sutherland scenes from Animal House… but that’s probably not the majority experience.

      1. Butterfly Counter*

        This was my thought, at least with the academic politics and the behind-the-scenes bureaucracy. The drama stuff: not so much.

      2. Alice*

        I came here to say this. The tenured professor who gives a promising colleague a bad review because he can’t understand her teaching methods? The other professor who has no office or no heating or no light? I have seen pretty similar stories.

        1. Grammar Penguin*

          While both are being pressed into early retirement because they’re the highest paid but bring in the least revenues due to low enrollment in their classes. I’m no academic, far from it, but that seemed pretty spot on.

          1. Grammar Penguin*

            (and to be fair, the department really can’t afford to keep them. The dean is trying to keep the entire English department from being cut altogether.)

        2. Blackcat*

          The treatment of a junior female scholar of color was really spot on.

          I also think it captured elements of the fact that colleges/universities are by and large deeply conservative in their actual operations even if run by people who are politically liberal.

    2. UncleFrank*

      YES!!! Anytime a professor even LOOKS at a student on a TV show I immediately start rooting for bad things to happen to them and just generally ranting. I know I’m a broken record to my husband but some things should not be normalized!!!!!!

    3. ferrina*

      You mean Viola Lawson’s character on How To Get Away With Murder isn’t an accurate portrayal? (love that show, but had to suspend a lot of disbelief)

      1. Albert "Call Me Al" Ias*

        I’ve known several law professors (some of them relatives). None of them has ever helped their students cover up a murder.

        1. IDIC believer*

          Our major university college of law had an assistant dean who watched kiddie p*rn on a computer in the support office on nights & weekends. Our IT discovered & provided evidence to police. This guy was convicted of being part of a multi-state ring, and evidence included pics of his twin toddlers.

          No one would have EVER suspected him! The powers-to-be even made a point of modifying his real/nickname after to make the connection to the college difficult.

    4. outdoor office worker*

      I worked at a community college for a long time, and though “Community” just made the college staff members (hilarious) caricatures, I thought it was pretty accurate in its portrayal of students. Community colleges DO serve students from a super wide variety of backgrounds, age ranges, and motivations.

      1. Liane*

        Maybe I should get with my friend (a scriptwriter) to do a show inspired by my community college profs:

        The science dean who was not only wise and personable but once wrote big name biology textbook authors about a pretty obvious error and gleefully showed off the copy of the corrected edition he got as a thank you.

        The biology professor who shot a big rattlesnake outside his house (this was in a very rural area) and we got to watch him dissect it. He also dressed up for a college-wide Halloween costume contest as the biblical St. Peter (yes, Peter was his given name) complete with a 70s decorative fishing net over his shoulder.

        And finally the sociology professor who ended up retiring after a long academic career because he couldn’t prove a lot of the items on his CV. When this came out (the original newspaper article is still online), he claimed all his degrees and credentials were in other names because —
        his first career was CIA Spy!

        1. Chidi has a stomach ache*

          Honestly, the true stories about colleagues I’ve had in academia are good enough that I’m surprised there aren’t more comedies/shows about them! For better (and sometimes for worse) academia is a place where personality quirks are much more openly expressed, which can make for some great stories. Wish I saw them more often, instead of the dour versions of profs we typically get.

          1. Felis alwayshungryis*

            I grew up with an academic parent. Those professors were some of the coolest, most fun people I’ve ever encountered. The parties were great fun for us as kids.

          2. Pierrot*

            I remember having a pretty candid conversation about tenure with my advisor in college about an older professor who had so many inappropriate relationships with students that he was banned from teaching freshman seminars.
            My professor said: “In the 20 years I’ve taught here, only one professor with tenure was ever fired. She was fired for having a gun in her desk drawer and showing it to someone in menacing way.” But the majority of my professors were brilliant, kooky people and I’d watch a show based on that premise!

            Also to be clear, I’m 100% pro-tenure but I do think there are issues when it protects professors with a) a track record of sexual harassment/misconduct or b) professors who are open about being white supremacists (Amy Wax). Neither of those things are “academic freedom” and it’s unfortunate that colleges won’t hold these tenured professors accountable when there are so many talented adjuncts who would love to get tenure.

        2. ferrina*

          I had a psychology prof who had worked for a long time in the prison system. He started his 101 classes by saying “I have been in X Prison, Y Institution, Z Correctional Facility….as a psychologist, of course.”

          He would also walk on tables when he felt class was getting too boring. Wouldn’t even miss a beat in his lecture, just casually step onto the table and walk from one side of the room to the other via tables.

          1. Free now and forever*

            My criminal law professor, whose first name was Loftus, used to speak to the class while looking at an angle out the classroom windows and making and unmaking church steeples with his fingers. I tried to persuade the class to do the same and see how long he’d take to notice. Sadly, they refused to go along. Law students are not a fun-loving bunch.

          2. Esus4*

            I had a wonderful history professor as an undergrad. During discussion sections, when he was trying to get us to talk with each other instead of just listening to him, he would climb under the table. He was not young, either.

        3. Olivia*

          I had this sociology professor who first of all was a pretty bad instructor. He spent class rambling about all kinds of pessimistic nonsense that was only tangentially related to the topic at hand, but his tests were exclusively based on the textbook, so class always felt like a giant waste of time. And that would have been bad enough, but he was also really creepy. I took this class in my first year at age 20, so at the time I didn’t fully realize how creepy and not okay his behavior was. But he mostly called on girls, and sometimes he would compliment how they looked in their outfits. And if I recall correctly, I think his general affect or demeanor seemed weird.

          Whenever I would go to that class in the social sciences building, I would always pass this one office that had a print of René Magritte’s “Young Girl Eating a Bird” (which is exactly what it sounds like, and it is a live bird, not a plate of chicken) on the door. I’ve always loved Magritte but every time I passed it I would think, who the hell would have that on their door? Then one time I saw this professor walk out of that office. Because of course it was his office. Of course it was.

          Definitely the type of character I could imagine being on a show.

          The other title of this painting is “Pleasure”.

          1. heeler*

            I had a prof in undergrad who taught the very large intro psych class who was very charismatic but also gave off precisely that vibe you are talking about, and was notorious for his army of blonde conventionally attractive undergraduate women TAs. He retired too early for Me Too, sadly.

        1. Siege*

          Oh god, I wouldn’t. I’ve been an adjunct and in my current role, I support adjuncts, but not as part of an educational institution. The systemic desperation is awful. I still describe adjuncting at CCs as 2 weeks of happy security and then 9 weeks of incredible desperation as you start on the wheel of “where am I teaching next quarter? what am I teaching next quarter? is it going to enroll? it’s not going to enroll – is it program-necessary? will it get a waiver?”

          And of course the two weeks of happy security is the period where you’re learning which of your students are homeless, which are in rehab, which are actively on drugs, who’s going to turn out to be a lying plagiarist (by the end of my second year of teaching I could walk into my classroom on day 3 and tell you who everyone was, it’s not a great superpower). So “happy security” is not 100% accurate.

          But hey, sometimes the lies are hilarious.

          1. Grammar Penguin*

            What you’re describing sounds like a professional hell. Which would surely make for some GREAT television.

            1. Grammar Penguin*

              I think the more horrible a job is to live through, the more entertaining it is for the rest of us to watch. See: every police or war story ever. Or this blog.

    5. fueled by coffee*

      I don’t know what you mean. Personally, every time I teach a college course, my lecture each day happens to perfectly relate to whatever is going on in my students’ personal lives, though it’s never really clear if my class is Biology or English composition or Art History, it sort of just depends on whatever is relevant to my students. If our campus is often dark and gloomy and kind of foggy, with lots of ravens flying around, I definitely make sure to talk about witches and werewolves a lot so that my students know they’re Definitely Not Real. I assign lots of vague essays like “Write about a time when you showed integrity” or “Tell me about a challenge you are facing.” There are bells to signal the end of class, but my students will stay late because they are so invested in the discussion.

      Occasionally, I am questioned by the police about a suspicious student. They do not come to my office; instead they politely wait outside the door of my classroom until I finish my lesson for the day. I know lots of personal details about each individual student in my 300-person lecture and will share FERPA-protected information with the police in the middle of a crowded hallway.

      I would love the honor of being department chair and can think of nothing I want to do more. My graduate students are either brilliant scholars with 17 tenure-track job offers at Ivy League institutions, or on their 12th year of writing their dissertations. Again, it sort of depends on if they’re supposed to be the “out-of-touch significant other who is only focused on their career” or the “out-of-touch significant other who can’t get a real job and won’t contribute to the rent.”

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Hee, that first description sounds like Christopher Lee’s character in City of the Damned where he teaches, apparently, one seminar a year (with nothing but WILDLY inaccurate information) about witchcraft in New England. He also is secretly a 200 year old devil worshipper who apparently picks out at least one eager grad student per semester to send off to be sacrificed by his coven. No one in authority has put this together at all.

    6. heeler*

      The worst recent example: The Good Place and its handling of Chidi’s arc.

      He hasn’t finished his thesis (presumably his dissertation??), and he’s a professor, and he wants to switch fields and be mentored by another professor, whom he is also dating????

      1. Dovasary Balitang*

        That’s not really accurate. Chidi never switches fields from philosophy and Simone is never his mentor. It’s more of a cross-department collaboration.

        1. heeler*

          I just watched this episode! Chidi refers to the neurosci project as his “new thesis” and is clearly following Simone’s lead. I don’t know if he ever uses the words “mentor” or “advisor” to describe her but it looked to me a lot like a senior-junior partnership, not a collaborative project. And even if not for all of that: Why, oh why is someone who has not finished the thesis a professor in this universe?

          1. Dovasary Balitang*

            Hm! You raise a good point. Admittedly, the Simone episodes were less interesting to me than the latter half of season three, so I might have missed some finagling details.

          2. ShanShan*

            I mean, I was teaching classes at my university long before I finished my thesis. A lot of graduate students do. It’s literally how an enormous number of us pay for the degree.

            He also only refers to it as his “thesis.” He doesn’t tell us what degree that thesis is in service of. It’s entirely possible that he’s teaching with a master’s degree while working toward a Ph.D. That’s a very common situation at institutions that consider a master’s degree terminal, especially since he seems to be teaching 101-style survey courses. We never see him working with grad students or even with smaller seminars — it’s always a huge lecture hall, which in the humanities probably means a low-level class.

            Speaking as someone who teaches at a university, none of this sounds farfetched to me. He’s never Dr. Anagonye — just “professor,” which is a very nebulous term and might just be a colloquialism for a more specific title.

            1. heeler*

              As a humanities professor and a PhD who teaches both big 101 classes and smaller seminars at a US state flagship university: In any university context I have ever participated in or heard of, the use of the title “professor” is heavily regulated, and in the vast, vast majority of fields, philosophy included, not all PhDs are professors, and every professor must have a PhD. Undergraduates may mix things up sometimes and call someone a professor who is a graduate instructor, postdoc, adjunct, etc. and whose actual title is Ms./Mx./Mr. or Dr., but that person wouldn’t have “professor” on their door or on their CV or website, and would get in massive trouble for misrepresenting their credentials if they tried. And the title “professor” is actually a lot less heavily restricted in the USA than in other places. Early tenure-track folks whose title is “assistant professor” at my university have equivalents in the UK, Europe, and much of the Commonwealth who are at the same level and have permanent contracts, but are called “lecturer” or something else like that. tl;dr Chidi can’t be Prof. Anagonye in any philosophy department that I know of on Earth and not have a PhD.

              1. Just a guy in an office*

                When I was a journalism student at a state university, the student paper wasn’t allowed to use the title “Dr.” in articles for anyone except medical doctors (and we didn’t have a med school at the time). It made perfect sense, since every other person on campus was a PhD.

        2. heeler*

          I just watched this episode! Chidi refers to the neurosci project as his “new thesis,” and clearly seems to be following Simone’s lead on the project, although I don’t think he uses the *words* “mentor” or “advisor.” And even if that weren’t the case, why, oh, why is someone who hasn’t finished his thesis yet a professor in this universe??

      2. Hanani*

        Absolutely! And frankly, it could have all been “fixed” if they just had him working on his book manuscript rather than his thesis/diss. Switching fields and being mentored by/collaborating with someone he’s dating is a thing that happens (was true for one of my grad professors), though the conflict of interest should have probably set off more alarm bells for a strict Kantian.

        1. heeler*

          Totally agree with your idea for a fix! Plenty of people write a dissertation that is totally unreadable by anyone outside their small small subfield and then have a devil of a time revising as a monograph, although in that case one wonders how he got such a good job. Re dating a cross-field mentor, I have also heard of this happening in previous generations but I think/hope it would be more frowned on these days. I don’t think it’s quite as bad as a thesis advisor dating their student but the power dynamics of it still give me hives.

    7. heeler*

      Why do so many of these shows portray us all as obsessed with becoming the chair, even up to the point of the chair being a motivation for murder?? I have never even heard of a department where someone actually wanted to be the chair. Every department I’ve worked has had the chairship on a 3-year rota and no one was eager for their name to come up.

      1. AcademiaCat*

        Ugh. We’re undergoing the process of selecting a new chair right now, and I swear once a week one of the full professors stops by my office to remind me NOT to put them forward for the role.

        I’m the department manager, so I have to work closely with the chair. The most vocal people about not wanting it? They’re the ones who would be really good at the job. Eventually someone is going to lose this game of “not it.”

        1. Also Cute and Fluffy!*

          “It is a well known fact that those people who most want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it. To summarize the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.”

          –Douglas Adams, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

    8. Prof. Pain*

      YES! I’m a professor and basically the entirety of any Hollywood depiction of what we do is pure fantasy—there have been times when I watched movies or television that I wondered if the writers had actually been in a college class. This is especially true for my field, Philosophy, where professors are portrayed as giving the most bizarre, inane assignments (“write ‘God is dead’ on your papers!” “Debate me, personally, in front of the class for a grade!” “Earn extra credit by interviewing people about why college is important!”).

      Also, there was an article in Slate about this years ago but the portrayal of the tenure process in tv and film bears literally zero resemblance to reality. You don’t compete for tenure, tenure is not something you are surprised to learn you’re being considered for, etc. Instead, it is an extremely long and boring process: IF you are even hired in a tenure-eligible position (most faculty aren’t, statistically) you submit your materials for consideration on a set schedule, and you find out on a set schedule. The time from submission to a decision being communicated is usually 6 months or more. There are committee meetings. Decisions happen via formal letter, not casual conversation. No one would want to watch this, ever.

    9. cabbagepants*

      I think that Bunson and Beaker from The Muppets have pretty relatable interactions if you imagine that Bunson is the august old tenured professor and Beaker is Bunson’s graduate student.

      1. My Dear Wormwood*

        Oh lordy there a lab head near us who isn’t supervising his new students closely and it’s us going YOU HAVE TO BALANCE THE CENTRIFUGE OR IT WILL DESTROY ITSELF AND THE NEAREST WALL

    10. Event coordinator?*

      I think of the movie 21- not that it’s unrealistic for a professor to be “involved in student success”, but that the janitors never became upset for meeting at night in a classroom to discuss their blackjack scheme.

    11. JB*

      I’m perpetually confused by how often professors on TV have affairs with their hot grad students. Like, is that a real thing that totally happens all the time? I doubt it.

      1. Majnoona*

        I wonder if the writers are people who went to college and knew professors so they think they know what they do (teach). I saw one show where a professor was involved with a student (No!) and then she transferred to another college and then he transferred there too. No. Being a professor is a job. It’s posted. You apply for it. You probably won’t get it. You don’t just decide to work at college x. Professors don’t “transfer”

      2. Birdie*

        Not ALL the time, but often enough. When I was an undergrad, at an undergrad only institution, two professors married former students. One the weekend after she graduated! And that was just during my 4 years, ending in 2003. And at least 4 of my professors had married an ex-student before I went to school there.

        In grad school, I knew at least 3 people in relationships with professors, one who went on to marry one of her dissertation committee members. He was young, good looking, and an absolutely a rising star in that particular field. But it was still weird AF.

      3. DataSci*

        Not so much “affair” as “blatantly sexually harass” in my (thankfully not personal) experience. Nearly every department in my former field had someone who the older female grad students would warn the younger ones about.

    12. applesauce*

      Some professor friends and I often discuss just how bad at being professors the professors in tv shows we watch are (including Sandra Oh in The Chair).

    13. AnotherSarah*

      YES! I found a lot of truth in The Chair but also soooooo much wrong. And it was wrong in ways that really irked me, not just in little details.

    14. Blackcat*

      To be fair, an accurate portrayal would be so boring.
      Answer email
      Try to write grant, be interrupted by someone asking if the lama grooming program is in this building.
      Try to write paper, be interrupted by IT suddenly needing your computer for god knows what.
      Answer email
      Go home
      have dinner
      Answer email
      Lay in bed and regret life choices.

    15. JelloStapler*

      Or Deans of Colleges/Students, etc, especially when they are portrayed as scary intimidating jerks- at least the ones at my institution are better than some of the faculty.

  6. Lavender*

    I haven’t been in academia long enough to say whether The Chair is accurate on a broad scale, but I feel like no English department chair on the planet has that nice of an office. (Although I do think the subplot about that one professor’s office getting moved into some random basement seems correct.)

    1. Lavender*

      My other job is in a library (I‘m working part-time while I finish my PhD) and I work in a role that isn’t really portrayed at all on TV. (I work in external storage in a non-patron-facing role.) According to TV, only librarians work in libraries—but there are so many other behind-the-scenes jobs that allow things to run smoothly!

    2. The Books*

      It is absolutely true that every conversation ends up being about the budget or enrollment, they got that right.

    3. Hanani*

      The idea that several women, and especially women of color, could have their personal and professional lives completely hijacked by a mediocre white man behaving badly is also very accurate. That’s probably true in most jobs, though.

      Office moved to the basement is real, as I sit in the basement my own unit was moved to!

      1. Lavender*

        Oh yeah, that part of the show felt extremely real. My area of academia is fairly female-dominated, and yet somehow the department I’m in is still mostly run by white men.

      2. Spearmint*

        Huh, it’s funny because my interpretation of the show was different. I thought Jay was very sympathetic. Yes his life was a mess and he didn’t know how to pick his battles, but he seemed like a good teacher and scholar and someone who avoided a lot of the other petty department drama. His pride made Ji-Yoon’s life harder, but I wouldn’t call him a mediocre white man. He just seems like someone brilliant with lots of mental health issues, which I’ve seen many examples of in male and female academics IRL (I know a lot of academics).

        And Ji-Yoon had just as much of not more headaches from overzealous, naive undergrads, conservative elderly professors, and meddling administration, ultimately.

      3. Age Discrimination Sucks*

        I’m a black woman currently going through a mediocre white main attempting to hijack my career…so true.

    4. Newly minted higher ed*

      Can confirm. My old school had nice looking ones because the building was bought from a corporation during expansion but they were either small, hot, cold, or some combination with the old Corp decorations still abounding.

      Currently in my English department only half of us have any furniture at all (damaged out because of pipes bursting) with no timeline to replace.

      Two schools ago my ESL department got moved to the building that the school wanted to tear down and they stuck us in a corner a couple years before taking those offices away altogether. We got to teach and office in the building while they removed all the asbestos. Then they brought in someone else to replace us.

      Nobody likes English lol. We’re simultaneously completely unimportant and the reason the world is ending since nobody can write like they have graduate degrees when they’re 18. I kid, I think. I can’t watch academia shows after 15 years in higher ed.

      The basement thing….reminds me of the Mina Shaughnessy stories.

      1. Lavender*

        I’m not in the English department, but my field is fairly adjacent. The offices in my department are perfectly fine, but not like the fancy wood-paneled mahogany-desk tasteful-warm-toned-lighting ones you see on TV. They’re also smaller. Like, way smaller.

    5. nom de plume*

      There are lots of Very Nice Offices to be had at Very Nice Universities.

      And The Chair very clearly benefited from the input of academics, because usually shows about professors cannot be arsed to get the titles or working conditions right (i.e., no understanding of tenure or the requirements of the job, or a character who’s just started graduated and is an Endowed Chair. Conversely, someone who’s been there for two decades and is an Assistant Prof.). Oh, and graduate TAs at colleges are not a thing.

      1. Butterfly Counter*

        ?? to your last sentence.

        I was a graduate student TA for several semesters while I got my Ph.D. Or do you mean TAs for graduate classes? Because those don’t exist.

        1. heeler*

          I think they meant the reverse — that graduate TAs seem not to appear in these types of shows, even though at large research universities they are everywhere.

          1. Lavender*

            Ah, that makes sense. I think there was at least one TA on The Chair, but maybe I’m thinking of a different show.

        2. I remain. . . Anatole*

          I read it as “not at colleges,” distinct from “at Universities,” with colleges granting only Bachelors degrees.

        3. nom de plume*

          I mean graduate TAs exist at universities, not colleges. So “X College” in the show would not have TAs, because it’s only an undergraduate institution, but TV shows don’t know the difference between a four-year institution and a research university.

      2. Lavender*

        Graduate TAs as in grad student TAs? That’s interesting, my university has lots of those.

        I’m at what many would consider to be a Very Nice University (it’s very old and very well-known) but my department doesn’t get a ton of funding so that might be why I haven’t seen the nicer offices!

        1. Hanani*

          I think nom de plume is talking about the technical definition of a “college” as an institution that does not grant master’s/doctoral degrees. You’re not going to have a grad student TA at a liberal arts college, because there are no graduate students there.

    6. Owl*

      I worked at Harvard as an admin and some of offices were very, very nice. My first job there I was 22 and making just over minimum wage and I had my own fireplace and a velvet couch. It definitely wasn’t intentional to give it the admins that, just a byproduct of renovating a beautiful historic building.

    7. Blackcat*

      The chair is supposed to take place at someplace swanky and with money. I’ve seen humanities offices that nice at the ultra rich liberal arts schools (Williams/Amherst/Swarthmore) and at some of the ivies. So it doesn’t seem that far fetched to me.

  7. rayray*

    Curious to see how many female journalists have tales of how their life is a chaotic mess but then sometime during December, they found the charming and handsome man who ends up being the love of their life. Did it happen when you traveled back to your small town for the holidays? Or was he also in the metropolitan city you live in and you crossed paths while his big-bad corporate job tried to destroy yours? Or did you meet a foreign prince who was trying to escape becoming the king of his small European country?

      1. Resident Catholicville, U.S.A.*

        Chocolatiers. If my mother’s viewing habits are to be believed, chocolatiers are a dime a dozen but yet a person who professionally futzes around with chocolate can’t find a partner…unless that partner is a prince or another chocolatier?

        1. RedinSC*

          Ok, but those same chocolatiers walk in off the street, put on an apron and immediately start working with chocolate. Oh please! Where’s your hairnet and wash your hands, dammit!

          1. Daisy-dog*

            Set It Up came out 5 years ago and I have probably watched it 500 times since then. I was an Office Manager 5 years ago and ironically, my boss was a co-director with his wife.

      2. Nea*

        Bakers who never get up early, never have flour anywhere on their persons, and have never burned or cut their hands in their entire life and somehow have a thriving business despite never having a full shop.

        1. joriley*

          They do have flour! It’s just a single smudge of flour where it can be easily brushed away by a love interest’s thumb.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Who run their own insanely successful one man operations in tiny towns that haven’t been rezoned for any new buildings since 1953.

    1. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      I worked in journalism for 20 years and I never even dated anyone at work. OK, I did have an ex-boyfriend come into the newsroom and try to make a scene when I dumped him, but it was a busy day and he got swept up in the crowd going back and forth in the newsroom and I guess someone finally ejected him.

        1. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

          Right? Plus I was an editor and most of the available single people were reporters. I couldn’t see snuggling down after a long day at work and saying “hi honey, your story sucked but I fixed it.”

          1. It Me...*

            Er, um, well, in my experience, the scene you present is . . . not wrong.

            (I married that reporter.)

        1. Hannah Lee*

          Maybe 60 actors who actually can act at least a little bit, but another 40 people who appear on screen in roles, who simply wrote and financed their own screenplay and cast themselves, or had a friend or family member do so. They are not actors by any stretch of the imagination.

        2. Just a guy in an office*

          There was one Hallmark movie this past Christmas that was the same story, with the same characters/actors, told from their different points of view.

    2. Some Dude*

      I’m a small town carpenter, and the amount of big city bakers and journalists who want to date me is truly overwhelming. I now use calendly so they can find time to go on romantic walks with me.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Sorry, I’m only interested if you own a Golden Retriever that wears a sporty bandanna.

    3. CommaPolice*

      YES — I’ve never flirted with, dated or slept with a source, nor worked with someone who has. Some of us are chaotic messes, but maybe no more than any other job field?
      There are some good journalism portrayals out there, though, like Spotlight. I’ve always though an accurate depiction of a small-ish town modern newsroom would be a great sitcom, if given the Parks and Rec/Abbott Elementary treatment.

    4. Snarkus Aurelius*

      If you’re a female journalist, you will always sleep with your interview subjects.

      I’m not a journalist, but I have no idea why this offense crap still exists.

    5. Another Kiki*

      People are always disappointed to hear my life is not just like James Herriot’s. I did have a Labrador though.

    6. Inot*

      Lol I’m a former journalist and I did not find love at my small town newspaper. All I got was headaches from incompetent publishers and editors or micro aggressions from people in the community (I’m a black woman).

    7. Princess of Whales*

      I was really tempted to run off with Gustav last Christmas, who I met when I finally got my big shot at writing a story after years of solitude as a socially inept copy editor, but it would have meant giving up my condo-sized office in the newsroom.

    8. goddessoftransitory*

      Once, but it was when I went to help run my widowed mother’s florist shop on Valentine’s weekend. I pitched it to my boss as a “feel good piece” so I could write it off my taxes.

  8. ladyhouseoflove*

    My job (librarian) is always portrayed as if it’s still the 1940s and we’re hiding in corners of a dusty library waiting to shush someone.

    I work in a community college library and spend majority of my time in my office. Desk Set (1957) and Party Girl (1995) are accurate to SOME extent in how we try to help people. Honestly, I am waiting for a show about libarians (similar to Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Abbott Elementary) to happen someday.

    1. Robert in SF*

      I enjoyed both of those movies and still think occasionally about “Party Girl” organizing her friend/DJ’s albums by category and indexed! :)

    2. Baron*

      Fellow librarian here. I’m just slightly too young to have been in the target audience for “Party Girl” when it came out, but I had a professor in library school who was absolutely obsessed with that movie, thought it was the foundational text for librarianship, assumed anyone interested in studying library science must be equally obsessed with it, etc. Early in the course, I decided to watch the movie to better understand where this guy was coming from. But I never got around to it, and by the end of the course, he had talked about “Party Girl” so much that I decided never to watch it, just to spite him.

      1. Some Dude*

        Party Girl is amazing. It possibly is a more accurate text of early 90s club culture than librarians, though.

    3. potato jacket*

      I would watch the hell out of that! (Not a librarian but I used to work adjacent to librarians in academia.)

    4. Lcsa99*

      My librarian husband is always amused/annoyed by librarians that shush people on tv. Libraries are just not that quiet.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        That was my job in high school! We had specific places where you could speak at a normal tone.

        My public library now is pretty loud.

      2. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

        No, they’re not! I get amused by patrons who whisper to their children, “You can’t talk here.” Of course you can. The high frequency of the whispering is actually more obtrusive than regular talking.

        Then on the flip side, we occasionally get old curmudgeons who complain to me that people are making noise, who then won’t accept my answer that libraries are not quiet spaces anymore, that they can go to (designated quiet area of the library) if they want to get away from cell phone conversations, etc. In that regard, the decades-outdated media portrayal of libraries as cathedrals of silence where people do nothing but read do make my job harder sometimes.

      3. Butterfly Counter*

        I wish someone would have told that to my high school librarian. She seemed genuinely upset when any student came into the library. My senior year, a friend and I had an open first period class and once tried to meet up and (quietly) go over our calculus homework together at a desk in the completely deserted library. We literally got kicked out by the librarian. I don’t remember the reason she gave, but it was my impression that we were just too distracting to her. We ended up doing calculus homework on the hallway floor just outside of the library for the rest of the year.

        1. Scooby Gang Wannabe*

          Was she perhaps secretly a Watcher who needed the library to serve as a training and research space for her assigned Slayer?

      4. hmmmmm*

        As a librarian I semi-regularly inform people “We don’t do that shushing thing anymore, just keep it below a scream.”

        1. PlainJane*

          When I was in YA, I would sometimes tell the really loud ones, “Don’t make me shush you, I’m a professional.” Which made them laugh and calmed them down for two minutes or so.

      5. Critical Rolls*

        Yeah, not the full shush, but there’s a fair amount of “inside voice please” and “no phone calls (especially not on speaker).”

    5. another Hero*

      a monster-of-the-week-type sitcom but the monsters were members of the public coming to the public library could be really funny, but I don’t think it could be super accurate about library workers’ actual work

    6. Snarky Librarian*

      Yes! Some of the reference questions I’ve been asked are worthy of at least a subplot. For example, “Does this look infected?”

      1. Jojo*

        I did work study in my college library. Best question I ever got was ” how do you make nacho’s?” It was before Google and I explained how I make them, because I did not want that guy trying to drive to the library. He was wasted….

        My current job really isn’t portrayed on TV. But The coffee sipping manager from Office Space rings really true for many of our mangers.

      2. Ev*

        My favorite I’ve ever gotten was a worried teen boy asking me if the leaf he had just eaten was poisonous.

        (It was (rhododendron), he had not swallowed it but simply held it in his mouth for a moment or two, he was fine – don’t worry.)

      3. Tuna Casserole*

        Most memorable reference question: “Is it still hit and run if the guy isn’t hurt that bad? I mean, he got up!”

      4. Cheshire Cat*

        Also a librarian, and some of my favorite reference questions were from adults asking for photos of historical figures who lived before photography was invented. (But my kid needs a photo of George Washington! I can get you a picture but not a photo…) Kids would ask this, too, but they usually didn’t know that Julius Caesar was born before cameras.

        And then there were a few people who wanted information about the Blair Witch and the history of “Blair County, Maryland” when the movie was in theaters. I showed one man information about the counties in Maryland and he still didn’t believe “Blair County” didn’t exist.

    7. Samwise*

      I always enjoy the moment in It’s a Wonderful Life where Clarence reveals that Mary is an old-maid librarian in the life-without-George-Bailey universe. The horror!

      1. edotalf*

        “SHE’S JUST ABOUT TO CLOSE UP THE LIBRARY!” Oh the horror! I laugh every time. I close up the library every Wednesday night and I’m not married, so I guess it’s pretty accurate.

        1. This Old House*

          “You’re not going to like it, George.” Of all the things that have gone wrong in a world without George Bailey – his brother is DEAD, for goodness sake. Every man on that transport died! – the one that gets a content warning is Mary being a librarian.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        Because being married to a bitter war vet who takes his lack of worldly progress and fame out on everybody until he’s literally about to jump off a bridge is the dream of every girl, whereas having an independent career and vital function in the civic life of the town is a nightmare beyond imagination.

    8. PlainJane*

      Another librarian.

      “The Public” did all right at first (I loved the patron asking for a life-sized globe of the world and the naked guy singing in the window, and Jena Malone’s eye-rolling malaise about these things instead of the “Oh, my heavens, I’m so shocked!” thing–I mean, seriously, do people know how hard it is to shock people who work with the public?), though it missed the fact that people need an MLS to do the job. Then it went off the rails with the protest–not because librarians don’t protest or support our patrons who don’t have homes but because somehow, they never even tried things like finding out about transport to other shelters, getting information on city emergency services… you know, doing the whole reference thing. They still could have gotten to the protest by having those options exhausted after exploration, but my dudes, librarians will treat it as a reference question first.

      The series “The Librarians” hacked me off from episode one because the Noah Wyle character just figured, “Hey, it’s a librarian job, I’ll just apply for it!” without any reference to, you know, qualifications and stuff.

      And no one ever seems to do programming, which is (at least) half my job! Where’s the circus of summer reading? The oddball performers? The box of old tambourines? Having to entertain 70 children because the performer is having a technical crisis?

      1. Kaisa (The Librarian)*

        Yes, we have entire positions and departments dedicated to different types of programming now – some who do little to no work with our collections. Very few media depictions show how much of a people focused role working in the public library is (with some technical/book processing exceptions). The amount of trying to build relationships, share activities and resources we have, answering questions, presenting programs, reaching out to schools and working with community partners, far out weights any reading or bookish things that I work on (and even the reading recommendations require conversations with patrons about what they are interested in and why – we don’t just hand over random books we think are good).

        1. PlainJane*

          The funny part is, all of that makes for excellent comedy. Visiting performers who are worried about cleaning the aura of the building, the music group that forgets that its keyboard isn’t working, the self-published author who can’t figure out why there isn’t a line out the door for her book signing or why the library won’t let her have champagne, the diva who explodes if things aren’t JUST SO… It’s all great silly subplot material. You could have recurring characters–the guy who comes in every summer to teach harmonica, or the teacher who drops in to pick up all the misreturned school library books. You could have a cast show-off who turns out to sing amazing new children’s songs, or the one who thinks she can sing, but can’t. (Probably me. ;p)

          Or you could go serious, with crime and violence and drugs and so on. A reference question that leads to major revelations for a guest patron.

          There are so many possibilities, all usually ignored.

          1. Sunny*

            Also a librarian here, public. I have always thought a college library would make a great place for sitcom ala Community. You could definitely show a lot of the weird college students that drift through.

      2. Librarianne with an e*

        This is EXACTLY how I felt about The Public! No librarian would handle that situation the way they did in the movie. I heard Emilio Estevez speak after the showing of the movie at an ALA conference; he really seemed to have learned so much about how libraries and librarians operate, which was nice.

        1. PlainJane*

          Yes, I was impressed with him. He seems to get it for the most part, and just missed a fairly major detail that I think happened because he was in a hurry to get to the protest for drama.

      3. Tierney*

        Yes, I never see the programming or weeding. People are always shocked that libraries get rid of books.

        1. PlainJane*

          That’s a fun plot, too. Maybe a librarian who’s super-attached to a book that’s falling apart… or one who is going, “Yay! It’s been five years since this circ’d! So long, farewell, get outta here!”

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          Ours has a major book sale every year–like, they hold it in the armory for space, it’s a huge fundraiser and very well publicized. But there’s always somebody who is shocked, SHOCKED that they aren’t holding onto every paperback romance or copy of Harry Potter like it’s an Etruscan scroll.

      4. goddessoftransitory*

        Somebody wrote into our newspaper complaining about library evening hours and how the individual branches aren’t open every time she wants to go to one or the other. I read that and thought “this person has never, ever heard the words budget or Covid.”

    9. AusLibrarian*

      Australian academic librarian here – there was an Australian TV show, The Librarians, set in an ‘interactive learning centre’ (aka public library). I honestly can’t say how accurate it is, because I couldn’t even get through the first episode due to the cringe factor (in hindsight, it was a little too accurate in terms of some of the… personalities you find working in libraries). ALIA (the Australian library association) was somehow involved in the production, and my husband (also a librarian) watched all of it without ranting it was nothing like working in a library.

  9. Office Cheetos*

    My partner is a nurse and cannot stand medical shows were the nurses are subservient to doctors. Nurses are the eyes, hands, and heart of the patient. They’re not there just to fill orders.

    1. Hills to Die on*

      Watching Hill Street Blues with my mom (also a nurse) was equal parts hilarious and annoying. And yes, not enough nurses owning the patient care and occasionally taking the doctors to task in TV and movies.

        1. Hills to Die on*

          I thought that was it – maybe it was another one. I was little but I remember she would get so. mad. ‘You can’t do that!! You’ll him!” yelling and pointing at the tv.

      1. Shirley Keeldar*

        And to them! The nurses are never even part of the plots. Why don’t the nurses have lives? (They are probably too busy rolling their eyes at how unprofessional the doctors all are…)

        1. Grammar Penguin*

          I watched enough to see like, almost every possible violation of every possible professional standard. It’s like the writers were combing the archives here for plot ideas. “What’s the worst possible way a professional, especially in a senior position, could handle this situation? Let’s do that!”

    2. PsychNurse*

      I’m a nurse. What I usually get stuck on is the way different medical interventions/treatments are portrayed totally inaccurately. Which of course is because it’s a back-burner concern for the writers, and not typically part of the plot. But watching anyone on TV perform CPR is so painful.

      1. StarHunter*

        I watched ER once with 2 doctors and a nurse. Much screaming at the tv going Nooooooooooooooooooo! :-)

      2. Mel*

        Anytime I see somebody take a giant glass/metal syringe and inject something directly into a vein…like what? I get it seems dramatic but in 22 years I’ve been in this field, I promise we inject through IVs, unless it’s IM/SQ.

        1. Some words*

          From what I’ve seen, shots were administered one of two ways. Giant glass/metal syringe with a 4″ needle directly into the vein at the elbow crease, OR in the side of the neck with a 4″ needle. Currently I think we’re at 90% side neck jabs in media.

          Either way, the syringes and needles are huge & subcutaneous & intramuscular injections don’t exist.

          Also, my spouse becomes ragey every time he sees someone use an inhaler on tv or in a movie. But I suppose it’s not entertaining to watch someone hold their breath.

          1. Lily*

            Those ramming-a-huge-needle-into-someone’s-neck shots drive me crazy.

            And no, doctors do not start IV’s in the ER. Or med-surg.

          2. goddessoftransitory*

            I have never, ever, ever seen an inhaler used properly on TV! It’s not like it’s difficult!

      3. Sally*

        Not job related, but a pet peeve about depiction of medical stuff. My partner has diabetes, and it takes a LOT longer than 5 seconds for insulin to do its work and make make you feel better after a crash. And she has never passed out – just a few really low lows. I’ll bet if someone has passed out from a sugar crash, it takes even longer. Not being able to speak coherently is accurate, though. It’s very scary.

        1. AnonRN*

          This stuff is frustrating when shows get it dead wrong, too, because inaccuracy is dangerous! LOW blood sugar is not treated with insulin, ever, and it would take only the most basic amount of research to figure that out and adjust the dramatic details accordingly.

          Not that anyone should be getting medical advice from the side-plots of TV shows, but look at all the conversations we have on here about how co-workers fundamentally don’t understand the medical needs of their colleagues and the various problems this causes (“I need to eat at a certain time” “I’m anaphylactically allergic to that” “My condition waxes and wanes” etc). Media portrayals of things *do* make a difference and I wish the producers felt some kind of accountability.

          1. Sally*

            Oops! You’re right, I got it backwards. I remember a few times having to get her a banana or cereal to bring the blood sugar back up. It took much longer than I wanted for her to feel better!

      4. Snarkus Aurelius*

        Wait. You mean you don’t resuscitate someone by pounding on them and yelling at them not to die? But I thought that was science!

      5. CowWhisperer*

        I was hospitalized for a week after my son was born. As my husband pushed wheelchair to the NICU one day we were trying to think of nurses portrayed in films and TV. We came up with Jackie – an opioid addicted nurse and, of course, Nurse Ratched.

        This made for a fun talking point with nurses where we compared our careers. I teach – and teachers shouldn’t have affairs with students – but that’s a common plot point.

        My husband farmed and he’d deadpan that Kevin Costner’s character in “Field of Dreams” clearly didn’t understand basic math when he plowed under his corn crop….

      6. Merrie*

        I saw an episode of Scrubs with only 2 characters working on a patient and half-heartedly pushing on his chest a few times and then pronouncing him dead. Not a remotely accurate code in my experience. At my hospital we’ll have a half-dozen residents, twice as many nurses, and multiple respiratory therapists show up within minutes of the code being paged overhead. The doctor running the code typically has to shoo extra people out of the room because there are too many and it’s too crowded.

      1. FreakInTheExcelSheets*

        My grandfather was a doctor and he can’t stand most hospital/medical shows but loved House, mostly because he would try and figure out what the diagnosis was before them.

        1. Boof*

          I liked the first season or so of House and the dx were kind of relevant but after a few seasons it devolved into soap opera nonsense and the dx were worse and worse. Like I was yelling at the TV “you just treat for both possible dx! Not treat two babies for one dx each and see which one dies!!!”

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          OMG, just posted about my dad and House! His rants about how no hospital that wanted to keep its funding would let him in the door were epic!

      2. Avid Reader*

        My mother was a nurse too. Her comment on Edie Falco in Nurse Jackie was, “Scrubs never fit that well.”

        1. GingerNP*

          To be fair, now we have Figs and Mandala scrubs and cherokee infinity and they all* fit really nicely and are stretchy and very cute.

      1. Flowers*

        Well there was/is Dalisay Villanueva but it is irksome there’s no regular nursing staff. At least The Resident had Nevins.
        In fact reading the boards, there’s a whole lot *not good* about TGD…

      2. Nightengale*

        there are also essentially no non-surgical staff. Claire is a non-surgeon but there would be pediatricians, cardiologists, internists, neurologists etc in charge in most of the inpatient cases even if surgery was also involved. And especially in the ER. ER calls surgical consults.

    3. Frickityfrack*

      My mom is a nurse and spends literally the entirety of any medical show bitching about inaccuracies, but when I suggest that maybe she watches something else, that’s a no go. I’d say I don’t understand it, but I read the comments on youtube, so apparently I’m also prone to doing things that I *know* will just give me a headache.

    4. Ally*

      Nurse here! I agree- also, every medical show has staff getting far far too emotionally invested in the patients too. Of course we care about them, but when I worked in ER you could easily see 50 or 60 patients a week – you can’t get that emotional, there’s no time. And the ER doctors see an even higher number.

      Also to repeat the classic Grey’s complaint – half the things they are doing (at least in the first few seasons which I saw) are things usually done by nurses.

      I actually found MASH fairly realistic considering the time and circumstances. Obviously some seriously outdated sexist jokes but apart from that, the mood is right. Stupid jokes, occasionally an upset moment, fixed by a stupid joke, back to work.

      I haven’t seen any show lately which really captures what working in a hospital is like. Any recommendations appreciated :)

      1. Grey Coder*

        Have you seen “This Is Going To Hurt”? I’ve only seen one episode but I’ve read the book. It’s based on the diary of a junior doctor working up the ranks, so I suspect it’s closer to reality than generic hospital dramas.

        1. Ally*

          I wanted to mention TIGTH but I’ve only read the book so decided it was off topic!! But I am often recommending it as the most realistic medical book – will check out the show, thanks!

        2. Gyne*

          Have not seen the TV show but I have read the book and Can Confirm he lived my experience as an ob/gyn resident. Interestingly, i had always heard the resident hours were better in the NHS but his were worse than mine in the states. But I went to residency when we were limited to 80 hour work weeks (on paper, of course.)

      2. BookLovinRN*

        Longtime OR Nurse here. MASH has been the most accurate for operating rooms in the field. Newer shows I try to overlook the breaks in sterility and the lack of basic understanding of infection control-as it would drive me crazy. In nursing school we would play drinking games based on the mistakes made on St Elsewhere and China Beach.

      3. Chinookwind*

        I don’t know about the hospital side, but I know a lot of military people who used Radar and Fr. Mulcahey to describe what it meant to be a clerk or a chaplain. And, knowing what I know about office work and priests, their characterizations hold up.

      4. Sopranohannah*

        And where are the NPs and PAs in these shows? Phlebotomists? X-ray techs? Social workers? CNAs? I’d love a hospital show that didn’t have any doctors and focused on all the other employees in the hospital.

        1. SocialworkerL*

          Every social worker on a TV show is a harried woman, inevitably in child services, who rushes through paperwork and puts kids in abusive foster homes just to get home on time. And don’t get me started on how television shows depict counseling sessions!
          Any time you see a psychiatrist on TV, know that the work you see them doing would really be done by a social worker.

      5. Daisy*

        Have you seen Getting On (BBC about a decade ago)? That’s meant to be quite realistic about nursing even though it is a comedy. It’s set on a geriatric ward so there’s not the same excitement about medical cases but more about interpersonal issues.

    5. Environmental Compliance*

      Watching nearly any medical show with a nurse mom and an EMT dad was both annoying and hilarious in equal parts.

    6. SaffyTaffy*

      My mom, an RN, used to complain about the many times nurses are portrayed as sadistic or negligent. But now that she’s retired and we’ve all weathered some health problems, she’s gotten to see what bad nursing looks like (pre-COVID and across states). I think nursing is, like teaching, one of those professions where the people doing it know they’re doing their best but their audience sees weaknesses and mistakes really keenly.

    7. LD RN*

      I can watch Call The Midwife and MASH.
      Call The Midwife — at least the early seasons — was historically accurate. I can’t watch anyone do CPR, doctors are apparently rad techs, phlebotomists, nurses, you name it.

      Oh, and I tell my patients that labor isn’t like TV. Your water doesn’t break, you scream three times, and a three month old comes out.

      1. WS*

        My mother was a surgical nurse, pediatric nurse and midwife over a long career. The only medical show she would watch was Call the Midwife.

      2. Blackcat*

        My second labor was sort of TV like. It was an induction, which is different. But once my water broke, baby was out 15 minutes later and within another 15 minutes I was fine, feeling better than I had felt in months. I am MISERABLE while pregnant, though, so as soon as I am not pregnant, I’m thrilled. And it’s instantaneous. Magic. And baby #2 was 9lbs with great head control so he kinda looked like a TV baby.

        Everyone looked at me like I had two heads, particularly my nurse. She looked at me even more strangely when, as soon as the placenta was out, I was like “Can I shower now?”

        (Answer was no! I had to wait till I was in my postpartum room and I was annoyed)

    8. FACS*

      I am a surgeon and we physicians could not do what we do without nurses. They are the backbone of the health care system. Any of us (If honest) can remember having our bacon saved by a nurse.
      And I hate Grey’s Anatomy. There is no random assignment of interns. Sex becomes just 20 minutes you could be sleeping. And For The Love of All That is Good, tie up your mask before you scrub. You just contaminate yourself and other people cannot comfortably adjust your mask.

    9. Raida*

      but the Matrons, now those I believe on film and tv.

      oh you got an argument? Let’s get the final word in here and she did not want to waste time today on your sorry arse, whether you be patient or doctor.

    10. zaracat*

      Not all surgery is brain surgery or bullet wounds. I work as a surgical assistant doing mainly elective procedures – but I guess there’s not a lot of drama in watching hemorrhoid surgery or hernia repairs while listening to the OR staff chat about their home renovations or their adventures in beekeeping. OK so I lied, that last one was a dramatic story that involved the surgeon breaking out in hives (haha good love a good pun) after unintentionally provoking his bees by mowing the lawn at the wrong time of day and getting stung, and then frantically using his son’s expired epipen hoping it would still work.

    11. goddessoftransitory*

      Oh, God, my dad was a doctor and listening to him rant about the show House was a podcast in itself. It drove him beyond insane that any hospital would put up with his treatment of nurses, interns, patients, budgets and hospital labs and gear (I can just imagine real life MRI techs if somebody tried to get near their machine, not to mention the lab staff!)

    12. Merrie*

      I’m a pharmacist. We’re rarely portrayed anywhere (which is too bad, I really think there should be a TV show about some of the shenanigans that go on in pharmacy) and when we are it’s usually peripheral to the story. I’ve read loads of books and can only think of three with pharmacist protagonists, one of which makes a bunch of stupid mistakes about the character’s work and education that could have been remedied by having a five-minute conversation with any randomly selected pharmacist–but then again, that character was mostly made a pharmacist to set up a plot where he figures out how to cook meth in prison. Eyeroll.

  10. David*

    I get frustrated when I see UK BBC 1’s “The Apprentice” – teams appoint a “Project Manager” for each task, who invariably doesn’t support their team and certainly doesn’t employ any tools of the PM trade (schedule, budget, risk register, plan). I have to keep reminding myself that it’s just TV!

  11. Fnordpress*

    People think editors / publishing professionals make WAY more money than we do. I also spend more time chasing people for deadlines than I do wining and dining authors.

    1. I edit everything*


      At least you get on screen, though. We freelancers are ignored entirely. I guess there’s not much of interest about basement offices and stressing about when the next project will come in.

      1. Isben Takes Tea*

        Right?! You see editors, editorial assistants, and an odd publisher or publicist. You never see the production editors, marketers, office managers, business managers, or IT professionals wandering around the office, let alone all the freelance cover designers, book designers, typesetters, proofreaders, and copyeditors it takes to keep things on track.

        Everyone is overworked and underpaid, and there wasn’t a square inch of mahogany or oak anywhere.

        1. Anne Kaffeekanne*

          Editors are the only sexy and movie worthy part of publishing, it is known. And they all make enough money to afford charming 2 bedroom flats in London living on their own.

          (Former Rights person here – I am now a contract manager in licensing which is definitely not appealing enough for Hollywood)

        2. Moose*

          Yes! I am always like, how do they think the book actually gets made? Who is coordinating and designing and setting and printing and taking care of finances?

          Far more fluorescent lighting and open floor plans than wood.

        3. Lore*

          I will say that Younger, while wildly inaccurate in just about every respect (except the author gossip/caricatures; they clearly had an inside source feeding them dirt about bad author behavior), did at least occasionally acknowledge that a book needed to go into copyediting.

    2. I like hound dogs*

      Came here to find the comments about editors! I don’t work in book publishing (anymore … used to work for a small publisher) but I feel like there are a disproportionate number of books and movies where it’s a highly glamorous dream job that pays great.

      Now I’m a proofreader in marketing and I make a lot more money but my job is not glamorous enough to be portrayed in media. Lol.

      1. GrammerIzFun*

        I’m an editor and came here to say the same thing! In addition to the lack of glamour, TV shows never seem realistic about publishing schedules. Oh, you just signed a book deal and it’s coming out next month? Lists are planned YEARS in advance, and books go to the printer months and months before their pub date.

        1. 1,000 Snails in a Lady Skin*

          This is what annoyed me the most about the show Younger! I get that it made sense for a single-episode plotline but it drove me insaneeeee.

    3. Cambridge Comma*

      There’s a Mexican film about an editor called Todo el mundo tiene a alguien menos yo that’s quite realistic. Although I have worked for publishers that were heavy on the wining and dining and also paid decently tbf.

    4. Taking the long way round*

      In 50 Shades Of Grey (so awful on so many levels), one of the most grievous offences was Ana just… taking home 5 scripts to read. Like, what? She got the editor job over more qualified people.
      It was obviously written by someone with no knowledge of editing/ publishing, who thought that the only thing editors do is read a few books a week at a leisurely pace (rolls eyes).
      And someone with no experience or knowledge of BDSM either!

    5. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      I thought about this while watching the show Younger. At least they had the 2nd lead 20-something being unable to afford an apartment and there was some deadline-chasing, but everyone was far too glamorous and they spent far too much time wining and dining and competing for star deals. (Oh, and deals they just landed could be on the shelves in months, too.)

    6. Moose*

      People have no idea what editors do. Not to mention the number of roles that NEVER get covered–where are all the production people, finance people, etc.? How do they think the books get made??

      1. penny dreadful analyzer*

        People think simultaneously that “editor” is one role filled by one person who is the single human besides the author who makes the book happen, and that all that person does is read novels all day and catch the occasional typo.

    7. WerdNerd*

      Came here to say the same thing! A lot of people think “oh, so cool you get paid to read,” and sure, some days. But it’s mostly herding cats, massaging egos, and explaining for the eleventy billionth time that no, converting your complex patient-facing medical content into plain language isn’t “dumbing it down,” but making it more broadly accessible and actionable.

      1. MissGirl*

        One of our editors spent an inordinate amount of time explaining to an author that needful does not need a hyphen (need-ful). Apparently, this way of using needful (full of need) was different than how the rest of the world used the word and therefore needed to be hyphenated. So many arguments and emails over so much dumb stuff.

        1. WerdNerd*

          That reminds me of a time that an author was so mad that I changed several instances of “which” to “that” in his book that he called in a personal favor from the CEO to make me change them back and I was barred from any further text changes because the author had “put a lot of careful thought into word choice,” never mind that his choices sometimes made a paragraph completely nonsensical. Or at a different company I worked for, somehow an author was also the freelance designer assigned to lay out his own books, so he would quietly undo any editorial changes he didn’t agree with right before print. These were nonfiction books for the school library market, mind you, and this author tended to be a lot looser with facts than most of his peers. Even after several of his books went to print with factual inaccuracies he had rolled back corrections on, the publisher would not even entertain the notion of having someone else design that author’s books.

          I don’t miss publishing.

      2. kim*

        Ah, I see we’ve worked with the same authors. “This book is for a general reading audience.” The book is 200,000 (jargon-laden) words. “But it’s necessary! All the popular science books are so shallow. People need to know this!” My friend, you cannot assign the general population homework. If you want people to read your oh-so-important work, you need to meet them where they are. That’s not “dumbing it down,” that’s effective communication.

        1. WerdNerd*

          You get it.
          Neuroscientist: “But my 10-year-old son understands what I wrote!” Cool story, bro, but we can’t use your son as a proxy for the general population.

      3. sacados*

        If anything, it’s the interns who get paid (or not) to read! Lol.
        I did a summer internship during college at S&S, and my ongoing task whenever I was in between other things was to go through the “slush pile” (aka unsolicited manuscripts) and do a half-page summary and recommendation of each manuscript.
        In reality that means skimming through the first 50 pages or so and then throwing it across the room in disgust. This was circa 2006 so the manuscripts were roughly 50% Da Vinci Code ripoffs and ranged from “dear GOD MY EYES” to the occasional “maybe, possibly, with a lot of work, this could eventually be publishable.” (NGL tho it was kind of fun as an intern job tho)

        As a student worker in the acquisitions department of my university’s academic press, my main job was typing rejection letters to fancy Ivy league college professors and then forging my boss’s signature cause he couldn’t be bothered to sign them himself. (Got a kick out of that too, haha.)

        1. Anne Kaffeekanne*

          I was also the slush pile intern at a literary agency for 3 months and I LOVED it. Saw some wild things too – all submissions had to be sent in by email and often just reading the email would be enough to know whether this submission was worth looking at or not.
          (I got blanket permission to ignore every single ‘I am sending this on behalf of Mr X, I am his wife/assistant’, which happened wayyy more often than I thought it would. Dude. You want your book published? Have the decency to submit it yourself. Or did you even write it?)

          1. sacados*

            Oh wow, mine were literally a pile of printed (probably received by mail) manuscripts in the corner of one of the back offices lol.

            My favorite part of that internship though was that they also had this big bookshelf in one of the stairwells that was just full of old ARCs and it was just up for grabs, just take whatever you wanted.

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          Have you read Babbeltower, where the main character does freelance slush pile reading? Her writeups are brilliant and clearly the author A.S. Byatt was voicing an opinion or three.

    8. Siege*

      BUT, the last time I wined-and-dined a pair of authors (okay, it was breakfast at a convention we were all at, and they were both already under contract, and I would go on to fire one of them 4 weeks later because he didn’t, you know, bother to write the book, whatever, potato poTAto) I was still drunk from the night before, so hey. The drinking part is probably correct.

      I feel like I spent more time chasing down minutia than media really shows. But now I can bore people for twenty minutes on what kind of cow a First Crusade knight would have passed in France and whether you can have an open forge on a wooden boat, and that time the British Museum got mad at me because a copyeditor didn’t understand the flow of time and wanted me to call a war by the name it got in relation to the second war, which happened after the events of the book so the characters didn’t know about it happening (not World War I/World War II).

      1. kim*

        There’s the old joke that editors know very little about very many things. I do trivia fairly regularly and I loooooooooove knowing the answer to some random thing specifically because I learned it from a manuscript I was working on.

        The least fun trivia I know, though, is all the ways an author can break Microsoft Word. I don’t know *how* they figure out how to insert 3 section breaks per page when they can’t even figure out how to intentionally change the line spacing, but they do. I’ve been doing this a long time and yet every year I get some new mess I’ve never seen before and it’s always a marvel.

        1. Siege*

          Oh god, the Word thing. A lot of my authors were older and had been writing a long time and had zero concept of attachment size. At the time I was in editing, ten mb was standard. They could not grasp that their book was 1 mb, max, so I would get 5 or more emails with a random number of chapters (never sequential) attached. Or it would all be in Courier, the third-worst font on earth.

          But I did find it fairly meditative and satisfying to put their books back together, inserting page breaks and removing all the hard returns, making sure that soft returns became hard returns, removing the second space after the period, etc. I also learned a lot about what you can find/replace in Word, which has served me well.

          1. kim*

            Learning you can find/replace formatting was a game changer. And yeah, there’s something very zen about spending an afternoon reformatting a manuscript. I sometimes daydream about teaching formatting classes for authors. Lesson 1: Please don’t use (a random and varying number of) spaces to indent your paragraphs. Lesson 2: The hanging indent and why you should use it instead of tabs or hard returns when formatting your bibliography.

            I wouldn’t reject a book over it, but I certainly weep a little inside every time I open a manuscript file to discover 14-pt Courier. Because Courier wasn’t big enough on its own, it needed to be made EVEN BIGGER. Love a 40,000-word manuscript that’s 600 pages because of the formatting. (On the other hand…authors who submit 150,000 words in single-spaced Calibri and think “it’s not really that long,” I see you.)

        2. I edit everything*

          Not only the trivia, but the truly bizarre google searches and browser histories. I’m convinced every editor has an FBI dossier.

      2. StephChi*

        As someone who teaches history to teenagers for a living, I would love to know what kind of cow a First Crusade knight would have passed in France!

        Regarding the second part – they got angry with you because you called WWI “The War to End All Wars”? You’d think the British Museum, of all places, would know that.

    9. Double A*

      Obviously the movie “Elf” is not realistic on any front, but it still cracks me up that his money-grubbing, rich dad works in Children’s publishing.

      1. Skippy*

        What is the best way to make a small fortune?

        Start with a big fortune, and buy a publishing company.

  12. Lacey*

    Graphic Design doesn’t often get portrayed on tv, but when it does, very complicated tasks happen with a click of a button and instead of fiddling around with the exact placement of the elements the designer pops them into the perfect spot right away.

    1. Hamster Manager*

      Yes! And of course the first (and only concept) is always perfect.

      Or they’re constantly drawing on paper or a Cintique. I guess sitting motionless at a computer is not very cinematic. :P

    2. LG*

      I’m also a graphic designer and I’m wondering this explains how some people thing graphic design is just clicking a button!!!

    3. Warrior Princess Xena*

      There’s an older Catwoman movie that while generally pretty bad does what I feel is a pretty good job of portraying graphic design at the very beginning.

    4. sookie st james*

      same with copywriting (my job) – it’s portrayed on shows like mad men that we lounge around smoking, are suddenly struck with a brilliant idea, then present it to the client fully-formed and they run with it. Actually it’s so much more tedious than that with endless rounds of tweaking and sending it up the approval chain to people you didn’t even know existed

    5. VC*

      On TV no designer ever has to ask the account manager to have the client send a vector file of their logo, then explain to the account manager for the seventieth time what a vector file is, then explain again to the account manager for the one-hundred-and-twenty-first time why they can’t use an EPS file which is clearly a JPG someone (naming no names) saved off the client’s website header and “converted.”

      1. Lacey*

        Hahaha, yes! Also never depicted are the tears on both sides as we desperately try to explain that while a png CAN have a transparent background, that doesn’t mean a png DOES have a transparent background – and putting “transparent background” in the file name doesn’t change that.

      2. LunaLena*

        This was my life when I was a production artist for a promotional products company. My go-to explanation was that they were putting an apple in a potato sack – just because the sack says “potatoes” doesn’t mean the apple has turned into a potato.

        I’m starting to have the same problem at my current job, now that Canva is becoming more common. “Can you download this from Canva as a PDF instead of a JPG and send it to me?” *receives JPG saved as a PDF*

    6. JTP*

      Graphic designer here, too. I can’t even think of any TV series or movies that have a character who is a graphic designer.

      1. LunaLena*

        Halle Berry’s Catwoman was a graphic designer. I didn’t love that representation because she also hated her job and only did to pay the bills, while her true passion was to be an artist and she spent her nights painting abstract masterpieces.

    7. Lucy P*

      Yeah, based on TV and movies people seem to think everything’s possible with one computer click. I had someone ask me the other day (when we couldn’t render something to a high enough quality), “Can’t you just give the people a small photo and let them increase the size and resolution on their end?”

    8. Janey-jane*

      Anyone remember when Pam on the Office briefly studied graphic design? And then tried to explain to Jim that she was struggling, and the garbbled mash of design words that flowed out…made zero actual sense if you were a designer?

  13. glitter writer*

    I’m a journalist. Media portrayals are… very hit and miss, haha. Some are accurate and many are very much not. Could be worse, I suppose.

    1. ProducerNYC*

      I started my career in TV news. At the time, “Broadcast News” was pretty damn close (though I hated that the woman journalist got the short end of the stick, had to admit it was pretty on par with the times), and the Robert Redford/Michelle Pfeiffer movie (where she goes live from inside a prison or something!?) was so gawdawful I couldn’t even hate watch it.

    2. Midwest Writer*

      I was coming here for this. I’ve never worked anywhere with half of the actual physical danger to journalists that you see in most movies or on TV. While I’d say that my job (I’ve been at papers from 1500 circulation weeklies up to 100,000 dailies over the course of 25 years) is actually often really mundane (I go to SO MANY MEETINGS), the real drama is often so hilarious that if you saw it on TV, it would only work as comedy. Like … a recent story about a dude who was probably smoking weed (illegal in this state) and watching PBS (this is speculation, but wait for it) and decided what he needed to do was build a log cabin on his property (like on some PBS show about people living off grid in Alaska). So he cut down more than 100 trees off of public land and transported them to his property (probably powered by the meth also found at his home). But with all the drugs, he never got around to building the cabin. My coworkers and I were laughing so hard we were crying because it was so absurd. But it’s not really TV or movie drama.
      I once did get a death threat though. For a positive review of a community theater presentation of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” I told the police and they kind of laughed at me. I was a little freaked though. The guy never followed through, thank goodness.

    3. T'Cael Zaanidor Kilyle*

      Former journalist here. Aside from the romanticization that I assume every profession gets (we’re always depicted sleuthing and having confidential meetings with our top-secret anonymous sources, and definitely not sitting in city council meetings about water and sewer rates or interviewing Miss Springfield County about where she plans to go to college), the conflicts of interest that are casually accepted are ridiculous. Think the reporter from “Scandal” being allowed to cover the White House in which his husband serves as chief of staff, or Danny Concannon on “The West Wing” seeing no problem with trying to date CJ Cregg while she’s serving as press secretary.

      1. Moose*

        Yeah, TV workplace romances are NEVER realistic. The kinds you’re describing are the most egregious but even in most standard workplace shows I’m like does no one know anybody outside of work?

        1. Snarkus Aurelius*

          I thought that about The Office. Remember Pam’s art show and how no one from work showed up except Oscar and Michael and…that was it? She was so hurt, but… Pam, do you really not have anyone else you could have invited? That’s so sad and not funny at all.

        2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          Eh, for a long time I didn’t know anyone local outside of work (except my spouse). I had moved a couple of hundred miles and was working full time, so it took a while to even meet anyone else. I took some evening classes but didn’t particularly click with anyone until a year or two in.

          I would think it’s weird for *nobody* to have friends outside work, but I don’t think it’s weird that a particular individual wouldn’t.

          1. Moose*

            Yes, very true! Just meant that in a lot of work-based shows, it seems like the office is *everyone’s* only social circle and dating pool, which is bizarre!

      2. Librarian of Many Hats*

        The West Wing was a hot mess as far as workplace relationships. Josh and Donna were all kinds of wrong.

        1. StephChi*

          Over the pandemic I rewatched the entire series, and while I still loved it, I didn’t love Josh and Donna as a couple the second time around.

  14. BigArty*

    I’m a designer—tangentially connected to work with photos and videos. In every crime drama, there’s a terrible, grainy video or photo of the bad guy and the people in the crime lab are able to zoom in and “enhance” the photo to get a clear image of the guy through some form of magic that doesn’t exist. Drives me nuts every time! It’s not a thing!

    1. Pugetkayak*

      They also have these flashing computer systems where they type in things really fast and just all this DATA…come flying across the screen and makes all these beeps and boop noises.

      1. Miseleigh*

        I’m a software engineer. Apparently, that means hacker. And apparently ‘hacking’ looks like a Matrix screensaver while banging away at a keyboard. Also there’s someone else on the network actively trying to prevent whatever this magical hacking is, but it’s ok because there’s a backdoor and… We’re in! We magically gained access to the Pentagon’s internal network within 45 seconds, and of course that means that we can actually find the information we’re looking for immediately, because reasons. Looks like the data’s encrypted, but that’s not a problem, just hit the keyboard a few more times…

      2. I AM a Lawyer*

        Penelope on Criminal Minds was such a good example of this. Like just smashing her keyboard and able to access literally anything in like 10 seconds.

    2. The Designer*

      Omg I know! My life as a designer would be SO much easier if we could magically make any grainy fuzzy photo incredibly high res and clear with a single click of the button.

      1. LG*

        Yes! And it is SO common in shows and movies that people in real life sometimes think you can “enhance” a photo to a magically dramatic extent!

    3. Blinx*

      I’m pretty sure I saw a a show where they identified the killer in the reflection of someone’s eyeball. Really??

    4. Amber T*

      I remember a scene in NCIS (an early-ish season) where they’re looking at a still frame from some security camera that’s super grainy and awful, but of course when asked to zoom in and enhance on the license plate, it comes up perfect quality.

      (Kinda separate, but there was also an *amazing* (amazingly bad) scene where they’re getting hacked, so the two computer experts start furiously typing together *on the same keyboard.* It was only fixed when someone else unplugged the computer completely, which fixed the entire problem and stopped the hack entirely.)

    5. a*

      Crime lab person here – I can barely make my photos taken under controlled conditions, with a high resolution camera and a variety of light sources, good enough for use sometimes! No matter how many Photoshop actions I use.

    6. Siege*

      I read a book by a mystery author years ago and loved it. Compelling, gripping, a great story. I didn’t really read anything else by that author but a few years ago saw a book of his and picked it up, and the part that means I will never read anything else by him was something like this, heavily paraphrasing:

      The bad guy has kidnapped someone. He sends a video to the police indicating that he’s got her captive. The detective notes a TV program on in, like, an unintentional wide-angle shot or something, and thus can identify the day the program aired. There is a reflection (either in the TV screen or in the glasses someone is wearing) of a box truck with a logo that has orange in it. The logo and truck can be resolved as a courier logo on a delivery truck outside the house and down the hill, in the road. The combination of the TV program’s airdate and time means that once they zoom-and-enhance to figure out which delivery firm it is, they can contact the firm and find out the route that would be running at that day/time, then talk to the driver and ask if he noticed a specific car (matching tire treads from another scene) parked in the driveway of a house he passed in a half-hour block of time. He accurately and adequately remembers seeing a car (I don’t know, a Chrysler LeBaron, something that you wouldn’t actually NOTICE) in the driveway of a specific house and gives them the address. They go arrest the suspect and free the victim, hooray the end.

      Nothing works like that. Nothing at all, on any planet, ever, in the entire multiverse, works like that. You would get Neanderthals as the dominant species of human before you got a world where half that sequence of events could happen.

  15. Athena*

    Someone who works in Publishing here! It’s hilariously inaccurate. Younger and A Business Proposal were still fun to watch though.

      1. NotSoEvilHRLady*

        I absolutely loved Younger! I watched the whole series 3 times! I had no idea if the publishing industry is portrayed accurately, I was just there for the drama. LOL

        Completely different topic: are there any shows with HR employees as the lead characters? Curious to know how they would be portrayed!

    1. a*

      I’ve been a latent print examiner for 28 years. When I was fairly new, the very first CSI started. I was testifying at a trial and the defense attorney asked “So what do you think of that CSI show?” The prosecutor object, but the attorney caught me in the hall later, and said he really wanted to know what I thought of it. I said that I thought it was fiction and not great fiction at that. Things that are wildly out of sync are: Timelines – we used to have 18+ month backlogs. Results available in months, not hours. Interaction with suspects: We don’t do that. One memorable time, I was stuck in a room with a defendant who was handcuffed to his wheelchair while court was in recess. But that’s the only time I was anywhere near a suspect. Computer stuff – we CAN search databases to try to identify fingerprints, but there are very few functions that are lights-out. For crime scene prints, the computer doesn’t tell us anything – it gives a list of potential fingerprints that might be a match for the one we entered. It doesn’t flash MATCH at us. We still have to compare the prints, regardless of what the computer thinks about it. The prints – most of the prints I look at are absolute crap – a small portion of a finger, rather than a whole, nicely placed complete print of an entire finger. Now, I only watched CSI once or twice back in the 1900s, so I have no idea how they’re mangling the science today. But that was enough – they were stitching parts of fingerprints together, and that was too far off for me. I haven’t watched that type of program since. Once in a while, I will watch Forensic Files or that kind of show. But I watched one of those programs about a case I worked on and it was still vastly mischaracterized.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I’ve been on jury duty three times, and each time the attorneys make a point of the CSI Effect, where juries apparently expect the timelines and kinds of evidence that simply do not exist in reality.

  16. Blujay*

    I’m an archaeologist. My professional realities are almost never on screen- even the documentary style ones are outliers for most of us. I could, however, probably make a quiz of “is this a work experience story or the opening scene to a horror movie.” Not because anything specific in movies was depicted accurately, but my job has definitely put me in some odd environments/scenarios that are ripe for script writing tropes.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      I was just getting on here to make sure an archaeologist weighed in. One of my siblings is an archaeologist and, hoo, boy . . .

      1. Blujay*

        I’m sure you hear the rants then! I had a grad group that tried to find the worst archaeology movie and there were a LOT of contenders.

    2. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

      Is it that archaeology documentaries just only ever show the dramatic stuff, and not the work of finding more “”mundane”” things? Or are there other major inaccuracies?

      1. Blujay*

        Most archaeologists I know (in the US) don’t work on the type of projects you see in documentaries. A lot of archaeological work is regulatory to figure out if a project is going to affect a known/unknown archaeological site. So we do sample testing ahead of time. We might do additional work if we find something that might have notable information about the past, but full digs are usually only if something is being/will be destroyed. This is outside academia that might excavate for research. So I’ve walked a lot of miles through back woods areas to see if a road or a building will impact archaeological sites in the ground. And used everything from a trowel to heavy machinery to excavate, depending on conditions. But I rarely have occasion to use a brush. I’ve also gone extended periods of time not finding anything.

        1. Blujay*

          My most common set up was a backpack kit that included good and water for the day, a shovel, a tarp and a screen. Head out and dig a hole every X feet. Make notes, collect artifacts (if any) and continue to the next one. Head back to the vehicle at the end of the day. Repeat.

            1. Mrs Vexil*

              That’s how we did it in the early 80s too. Don’t forget the Munsell Soil book (if they even still exist)

              1. Blujay*

                They do! Though now sometimes each digger/pair get a GPS with preprogrammed locations to dig.

                I still opted for a more desk based version of archaeology in recent years as an attempt to not develop any more bad joints. And as someone noted below- have access to indoor plumbing regularly.

              2. Ciara*

                We were taught this in college in Ireland in the late 90s. It was definitely still used when I was working in the field too.

          1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

            Ah yes, the endless shovel testing. I don’t do much of that now that I’m in the UK but I used to just tell people that I hiked for a living because their eyes would glaze over when I was trying to explain survey to them.

        2. Richard Hershberger*

          Yup. My best friend’s husband does this for CalTrans. But my understanding is that most modern archaeology, even of the “go spend a season digging a site” sort, tends to run more toward pollen analysis and quantifying tiny potsherds. And nowadays we have DNA analysis from old bones and teeth, but my impression this is more about going through the drawers of museum storage facilities than it is going out and finding bones to analyze.

          1. Blujay*

            We do have a lot of existing collections of all types of cultural material that we are storing for their research value and historic importance. A shift to actually using those materials regularly for research and public information would be really beneficial all around!

            I’m not sure about your mentions of focus change. I haven’t worked in academia and I can definitely see focusing on new technologies and analysis that has become more cost effective and therefore accessible- I work more in cultural resource management so we excavate what is where we need to look. We analyze what we find, whatever it is, and don’t really opt in/out of anything specific.

            1. Blujay*

              Also mileage varies depending on region. I can’t speak for regions I haven’t worked in and methods/focii can be quite different.

              The collections crisis is an issue everywhere though. We need to be looking at what we already take care of for answers to some of the questions we’re asking.

              1. Salty Secretary*

                But Bob forbid you write a thesis on an existing artifact collection instead of digging your own – nevermind that its not a PhD and you don’t have funding and the spot you’re interested in already has been dug and covered in a parking lot.

                And then they wonder why so many people leave the field after a couple years too.

                1. Blujay*

                  The only grad student I know that graduated on time used existing collections- the rest had to scramble when excavation didn’t give them the right material to answer the questions they had originally laid out.

                  So I think you were very smart in that decision, and it’s disappointing that programs aren’t more supportive of similar ones.

                2. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

                  Interesting, I know several people who analysed existing collections for their degrees. I think you must have been in the wrong place with the wrong supervisor. Every commercial unit I’ve worked for had a big backlog of stuff that never got properly analysed for whatever reason and they always had students doing bits of work on them, which helps them clear space and finish site reports as well as giving the student something to work with.

      2. Another archaeologist*

        I don’t watch documentaries, but one of the omissions of popular media about archaeologists in general is the balance of field vs lab time. It’s always more lab time. And then you have to write up your results. Only at the lowest levels are you spending all your time in the field, and then it isn’t quite as envious because a) you’re probably making $15/hr and b) you’re probably traveling almost every week or have little to no job security based on busy vs slow seasons.

        I remember being in my 20s and hearing someone say “it seems like all the women go into lab work once they have kids,” and I was like “I’ll never do that! Lab work is so boring!” Well, fast forward and now I do “boring” desk-based regulatory work, because it turns out I actually do value seeing my small children most weeks.

        1. Another archaeologist*

          + I also would like to submit that I value family health insurance and year-round job stability, which field archaeology doesn’t always get you. There’s academic archaeology but that has its own tradeoffs, like not being able to choose where you live, and the likelihood you’ll get stuck in precarious positions for a few years post-PhD anyway.

          1. Blujay*

            Another bonus for year round/not alway travel is hobbies. I lost a lot of hobbies because I was never home to attend things.

          2. Texan in exile on her phone*

            My boss hired this amazing early 30something woman, who had been a field archaeologist, to be our team’s admin.

            My husband couldn’t figure out why someone with a master’s degree and such a cool job would come into the corporate world.

            I told him because I bet she and her husband wanted to have a baby and darn if eight months later I wasn’t gleefully calling my husband from work to tell him I had been right.

        2. Blujay*

          Oh wow yes!

          If I had a dollar for every time someone said “so we can move forward now right?” when I mentioned field work was complete…I wouldn’t be retired but I’d certainly be closer.

        3. Salty Secretary*

          I came to the realization that I could either be the kind of parent I wanted to be, or I could be a working archaeologist… and I decided archaeology could live without me, but I didn’t want to not be a mom.

      1. Blujay*

        I have not run from a boulder, though I have run from a falling power line. I have run into people that didn’t particularly want me to be there. Some of them were dramatic in conveying that message. So some shadows I guess?

        And every good archaeologist has a hat. But usually with a better (read wider) brim.

      1. Blujay*

        That’s great!

        One of my class final test was to document everything Indiana Jones did wrong in one of the movies. I think it was the first one.

    3. jamlady*

      Also an archaeologist, but a different background. I was in Federal land management for years before switching to Tribal Government. I run a large CRM department of archaeologists, anthropologists, archivists, curators, historians, public educators, and bios – I haven’t been to the field in many, many years! I don’t think any of the professions on my team are accurately portrayed.

    4. goddessoftransitory*

      I remember watching Last Crusade and being furious at how terrible Indiana Jones was at his job as he smashed apart priceless and intact medieval knights’ tombs.

    5. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      Yeah me too. Time Team isn’t too bad but the artificial 3 day thing always annoyed me a little bit. But at least it shows people using mattocks and machines for a lot of the work instead of tiny little brushes as we are often portrayed. I think the only time I’ve used tiny little brushes was when I worked on a huge cemetery site and everything had to be super clean for photogrammetry.

  17. ceiswyn*

    I’m a technical writer. And apparently I don’t exist.
    I am well impressed by the expertise of all the people on TV who can just spin up some unfamiliar software and use it without ever looking at the help.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      I used to train people on the kinds of internal systems that TV people can use & navigate the first time they see it! (Luckily for sleuths, screens are never locked or password protected.)

      1. Code Monkey, the SQL*

        I want some of those TV users for my software! I’ve got a user stuck in ticket hell going on week 3 because she skipped an access step and created some sort of six-way Gordian Approval Knot.

      2. Elenna*

        Or if it isn’t, the password is always, *always* either written down somewhere or it’s their wife’s name or their kid’s birthday or “password” or something super guessable. I’m sure there are people who do that in real life, but also there do exist people who have good passwords!

      1. Age Discrimination Sucks*

        There’s a movie with Eric Roberts and his character is a comic book writer, I believe.

    2. Mockingjay*

      Me too.

      My favorite are the scenes in Gravity during which Sandra Bullock pulls out the Russian, then the Chinese user guides to instantly fly unfamiliar spacecraft. Those guides must be the pinnacle of technical writing efforts.

      1. ceiswyn*

        I was astonished to discover that flying a spacecraft is so much easier than, say, provisioning compute in the cloud. That normally requires days of training…

    3. MmeJennyfair*

      While we aren’t usually portrayed in film, I reminisce fondly about (and sometimes identify with) Tina the Brittle Tech Writer from the Dilbert comic strip. Remember “Must. Stop. Fist. Of. Death.”?!?
      Love me some Tina!! VERY accurately depicted in cartoon life!!

      1. ceiswyn*

        One of my most guilty proud moments was when I discovered that the entire overseas development team was apparently terrified of me.
        I’m actually quite nice when I’m actually talking to people. I just rant a lot when I’m not :)

    4. Nea*

      Solidarity! Either we don’t exist OR the big butch hero proclaims “We don’t need a manual!” and operates highly technical machinery/machinery without shutting it down or injuring himself.

      How I wish GUIs were actually designed like that…

      1. Sally*

        How I wish GUIs were actually designed like that…

        Yes… but since they’re not, we remain employed!

    5. penny dreadful analyzer*

      I am a tech editor, and before that I worked in publishing, and given how publishing is portrayed in movies and TV I am actually quite glad that tech writers and editors are not considered filmable!

    6. Miette*

      Not to mention people able to navigate multiple screens and graphical objects THROUGH KEYSTROKES ALONE. I stg no one on TV uses their mouse ever.

      1. On Fire*

        Yes! I use keyboard shortcuts constantly, but there are some things you simply cannot do without a mouse.

    7. scurvycapn*

      While I am not a technical writer, I have put extensive hours into writing system design documents, quick reference guides, etc. for our technical writers to review/put the finishing touches on (and remove the million extra commas I tend to add).

      I think the real answer is that the profession may as well not exist as no one reads it. Or they do once, then forget about it, asking people for the information they already have. My favorite story was a customer asking for details about a process months after a project closed. A co-worker responded that it was in the design document, and even attaches a copy even though it’s in the customer’s SharePoint. “But where?” the customer responds, too lazy to even open it and look for the information.

    8. Buffy will save us*

      As an Occupational Therapist, I feel your pain. Whenever someone is in physical rehab it’s always just PT. Guess no one cares how they’re going to get dressed, eat, bathe, etc…..

    9. ProcessMeister*

      Star Trek (among others) is bad for that.
      “We found a spaceship abandoned by a species of alien we’ve never met and whose language/mode of thought/number of limbs we do not know. To make the ship go, we just need to plug this cable we don’t know anything about into this unrecognisable socket and all without knowing if it will cause any repercussions elsewhere. As for flying the ship, I just press various nearly-identical buttons with symbols I’d never seen up to an hour ago. It’s so convenient to live in a universe where most aliens look and think like me.”
      I enjoy Star Trek but, seriously??!

  18. Smaller Potatoes*

    I’m an engineer working in manufacturing. Except for the tv show “How it’s Made” and people running through industrial facilities while being chased I’m having difficulty thinking of where else it is represented at all.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Another engineer in manufacturing here, and when I watch superhero TV shows and movies, I’m usually thinking “holy industrial accidents, Batman!” as people are running through industrial sites and throwing forklifts at each other.

      1. Sally*

        And how about the scenes where a random person can jump into a forklift and drive it perfectly? I’ve never even been near one, but unless you’ve driven construction machines before, I imagine it’s not obvious how to do it. Or maybe that’s part of spy training…?

    2. 1-800-BrownCow*

      Haha, same with me. My engineering job in manufacturing is certainly not interesting enough for any tv show. What did I do today? Review product drawing changes and update some procedures…fun times.

  19. EggyParm*

    I work in advertising and I would say some parts of Mad Men are still highly accurate today. There’s still a strong drinking culture, a lot of long nights, and plenty of egos to deal with. Even the way some of the pitches are done feel very relevant to how we pitch and speak about products/ideas/campaigns today, which might be why that show has strong re-watch value for me.

    Probably the most unrealistic representation of advertising is Emily in Paris. That gal posts the most basic photos and captions and goes “viral”. Sure, Jan. She’s also, what, 25 years old and frequently refers to herself as a “Marketing Executive”? At best home girl is an “Account Manager”. I still hate watch it though. Haha.

    1. Hamster Manager*

      Also, Emily’s first and only idea is always brilliant and everyone is onboard with no changes every single time.

      1. Hamster Manager*

        Oh yeah and she’s only heard the barest amount of info about what the problem and business goals of the project are! Lol.

    2. Roy G. Biv*

      Agreed on Mad Men. It has been decades since I worked in advertising, but the pitching the idea to the client meetings always had some flashbacks for me. And the random goofing around at the office, usually while drinking.

    3. Lemondrop*

      I think that depends what kind of advertising you’re doing. My dad works in advertising, but he isn’t writing ads for consumers. He writes “hey, [major hardware store chain], here is why your stores should start carrying the new line of [major brand of appliance]!” type ads. He doesn’t drink at all, he works 9-5 (from home), and takes a ton of vacation time.

      On the flip side, I once had a coworker tell me she was leaving our crappy retail job to be a Marketing Manager at Old Navy. I was like, woah, that’s a big step up for someone with zero experience in marketing, and I asked her what sort of stuff she’d be doing. “Oh, you know, organizing displays, putting up signage in the store, opening and closing, that sort of thing.” So…like a store shift manager. Not a marketing position at all, just a misleading job title.

      1. Pudding*

        I had that job at another retail company for a summer! The title was Visual Merchandising Associate though, which seems more accurate. I LOVED it btw…the only reason why my tenure was short was because it was a between school years thing, and I had worked there before and they loved me, so when I called and asked if they had any summer work for me, they put me on that team.

    4. Riot Grrrl*

      When I as a freelance graphic designer, I met with a new client and proposed several possible solutions for her advertising needs. The way she responded was… odd. There was something overly officious about it, and she kept using phrases like “that’s our graphic.”

      Then it hit me: the way she’s talking isn’t the way people talk about advertising, it’s the way people on TV talk about advertising! She was doing her impression of an ad executive.

      1. Marcella*

        I run into this all the time! So many clients have picked up lingo around branding and marketing and then use it incorrectly. One client got frustrated because I thought “our ranking system is really cool” referred to some kind of Google rank strategy. He was talking about lead scoring but didn’t know the right term for it.

    5. Miette*

      The thing about being in Advertising is that everyone thinks they know all about Advertising, and all they know about Advertising is what they learned watching Melrose Place lmao

    6. Ray of Sunshine*

      Several of the ad agencies I’ve been in bad actively tried to distance themselves now from the Mad Men style drinking culture – to no avail often. One place I was at mad a big point of getting rid of all the bar carts in the office (there were 12 public ones in total, god knows how many were hidden in the managers offices!). Even with that, 90% of us had some sort of liquor in our desk drawer for impromptu happy hours. It was very much still a “work hard play hard” culture like in Mad Men, just with less sexism

    7. Purely Allegorical*

      I work in marketing and comms, and Mad Men is depressingly accurate. Only a little bit less sexism these days.

  20. Dread Pirate Roberts*

    I always find it funny when there’s a new show with (a) journalist character(s) – the number of journalists who feel the need to write “that’s now how it works” articles but don’t seem to make the connection that TV is not how pretty much any job works.

  21. Ari*

    Archaeologist here. I just have two words for you: Indiana Jones. :)

    Even some of the documentaries, etc., that interview archaeologists and histori

    1. Ari*

      …historians can really over-dramatize what is actually quite boring work sometimes.

      Sorry for two posts. My browser went crazy on me.

      1. It's Marie - Not Maria*

        Married to an Archaeologist. Can confirm, not glamourous, but a lot of back breaking labor. I joke my life is what happens after Indiana Jones rides off into the sunset with the pretty lady (I have a full time office job and I stay home with the pets, taking care of the house, while my Spouse goes and digs holes in exotic [haha] locales)

        1. Warrior Princess Xena*

          I’d guess that the ‘exotic’ locales include a lot of places with no clean drinking water, no toilets, whatever food is cheap and available, and more experience than most with endemic local diseases. And a lot of wrangling over paperwork with a counterpart when neither of you speak the other’s language overly well.

        2. Blujay*

          Yeah it’s funny when people ask where you’ve been as an archaeologist. I get asked if I’ve dug in Egypt a lot. No but I’ve seen a lot of the parts of states most people don’t go to!

          1. Salty Secretary*

            “ohhh that’s so exciting! where have you worked?”
            “umm central and Eastern Kentucky, little bit in West Virginia and Virginia.”
            “oh… um… cool?”

            I did used to know a fantastic Country bar/burger joint/indian restaruant/liquor store” down in Trigg co – but it didn’t survive the pandemmy.

          2. Ari*

            Yes!! For me it’s Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas and one memorable project in Louisiana. Nothing exciting. Lots of hot, humid corn and soybean fields with the occasional swampy area thrown in for good measure.

            1. Blujay*

              I feel like some of those hot humid projects are, if nothing else, a touchstone bond between different phases of archaeologists. I once got a call from someone in my current job because they just read my name in a report which for me was two jobs ago. They were going to the same swamp and commiserated. I told them where to find some good Cuban food.

              800 holes I dug in that swamp. Found nothing.

    2. I edit everything*

      The biggest drama I faced when working on an archaeological site was the lack of a bathroom. We were there *all day*.

    3. I'm NOT Lara Croft*

      And don’t forget the built in water wings of his female equivalent Lara Croft.

      Those two stereotypes made studying Archaeology at uni a nightmare. Everyone was always SO disappointed when they met you in real life and you didn’t have a whip and fedora or wear really skimpy clothes.

      And YES, we have heard that joke before.

    4. no thank you*

      In high school my Latin teacher would play Indiana Jones for us on days she was feeling under the weather…. her justification was it was educational, as he is the best archaeologist ever lol.

  22. Magda*

    I’m an author which I frequently see depicted in media, probably because screenwriters figure they can guess what that would be like (the way a lot of authors choose to write characters that are artists – it’s “close enough” without being on the nose). I always chuckle when the “finale” of the movie or series is that the character writes the best-selling book about their experiences and is now a millionaire (no writer I have ever encountered gets that kind of money anymore, certainly not a debut writer with one book in them; if they had an unexpected success they would get paid in royalties but that takes literally a year to see the money – and very few authors now are given tours, never mind gifts like cruises as in Murder She Wrote). The timelines are often nonsensical (character writes a book and six months later is touring the world as a best seller – best case scenarios would be at least a year and a half before it comes out). The roles of editor, publicist and agent are all mixed together. The idea that writers are treated with prestige within the industry is kinda laughable (writers are somehow at the bottom of the power structure).

    1. Lisa*

      This! I’m a ghostwriter. I personally make more money than the average writer because I’m paid on a project basis and write 4-5 books/year for other people. But I’m privy to the world of publishing and this is dead on.

      It takes 18-24 months for a book to get to market unless it’s Prince Harry’s memoir, and even that took well over a year. The publishing industry is very old-fashioned because print schedules are so constrained; there are only TWO major printing companies in North America and ONE distribution network, and every big-five book has to fit into their timeline.

      The “book tours” depicted in so many films/shows are ludicrous. An episode of Agatha Raisin had a history writer going on a 6-12 month book tour in “America” after a successful 3-month tour in Europe. Seriously!!

      Debut non-fiction writers are extremely lucky if they make 50k off a book, and that number is much smaller for fiction writers. A bestselling book on the NYT list sells approximately 10,000 copies (depending on the week and how many books are released), not millions.

      The most accurate depiction of the publishing industry I’ve seen was in the show Younger. Not perfect, but close.

      1. Flowers*

        Maybe this is better for the open thread but what’s it like being a ghostwriter and how did you get into doing this?

    2. Shirley Keeldar*

      Never yet seen a freelance writer on the screen worrying about how to afford health insurance. I’ve been freelancing for 20 years and I worry about that A LOT.

      (Did get a book tour once. It was fun. Pretty sure
      it was useless in terms of selling books, though.)

      1. Tinkerbell*

        Yeah, I love when the editor flies the author to New York (or somewhere else glamorous and ritzy) and chides them about being behind deadline on their book, so the author retreats to somewhere remote but still glamorous and pulls a Walden Pond for a while before rushing back and handing their editor a (paper!) copy of their manuscript. Then the next scene, they’re on a grand book tour (paid for by the publisher, of course!) and doing red carpet events.

        Actual experience:

        1) Write book (takes anywhere from months to years)
        2) Submit to agents (also takes months to do)
        3) If you’re lucky, you get to sign with someone. If not, you put that manuscript under your bed and start on a new one, go back to step 1.
        4) Your agent asks for some revisions (add a few months), then starts on submissions. Take another 2-12 months for this.
        5) An editor wants to acquire your book or series! Yay! In a month or so you get a contract. Lucky authors will get an advance (money paid right away), authors in other genres (cough cough *romance and ebooks*) are lucky to get royalties eventually. Even if you do get an advance, that money is split up over YEARS – often 1/3 at signing, 1/3 at turning in the book, and 1/3 at publication.
        6) Spend anywhere between six months and two years doing edits, okaying the cover, writing back cover copy, and working on your social media presence before the book comes out. The publisher might cover the cost of a blog “tour” if they really like you, otherwise all the marketing is out of your own pocket.
        7) Release day! Post a lot on Twitter and Facebook and obsessively watch your book rank on Amazon. Try to read the reviews (because you’re excited) without reading the reviews (because seeing one mean thing will totally haunt you forever).
        8) 3-6 months later, get paid for day 1 sales. Continue to get royalty checks for increasingly smaller amounts, always with a 3-6 month delay. Eventually the royalties end up being under $5 so they don’t actually send checks every time anymore.
        9) After 10 years and 9 books out, finally earn enough income to have to pre-pay taxes on it. Still don’t get health care.

        1. Shirley Keeldar*

          And where did the author get that remote-yet-glamorous retreat anyway? I mean, obviously it’s not THEIRS, they’re a writer, they’re broke. How do all on-screen writers have family or friend with lovely wilderness cabins?

        2. New Jack Karyn*

          You mentioning the writer being behind deadline reminded me of the movie Stranger Than Fiction. Emma Thompson is a well-regarded author who is DEEPLY behind on her latest novel, and Queen Latifah plays a ‘fixer’ sent by the publisher to prod her along.

          I’m sure it’s incredibly fallacious, but their interplay was amusing as hell.

          1. Vio*

            I love that movie, so many great scenes and characters! I especially loved when the guy brings the girl ‘flowers’, one of the funniest yet still romantic moments in any movie.

            1. New Jack Karyn*

              I suspect they made Maggie Gyllenhall’s character a baker specifically so they could make that joke!

    3. Flowers*

      This is so funny – I’m watching Home Economics atm and Topher grace’s character is a writer. and it’s exactly like it says above. With a few hilarious setbacks.
      (fwiw I’d totally read the book he wrote).

  23. L-squared*

    Im in sales.

    I feel like most portrayals are far more slimy than any sales job I’ve ever had. Not saying those people don’t exist, but I feel they are more the exception than the rule. And I mean truly sales of things companies want, not like calling people to sell crap they don’t need. Movies like Boiler Room are entertaining, but not like my life.

  24. David*

    Also, don’t get me started on bad CPR in films…James Bond at the end of Casino Royale is basically just groping his casualty’s chest. Given the quality of his chest compressions and rescue breaths it’s no wonder she died!

    1. ENFP in Texas*

      To be fair, you can’t do full-strength compressions on a healthy patient.

      You’d need to substitute a dummy or mannequin, which has its own issues.

    2. Isben Takes Tea*

      When I first did lifeguard training, they had a special section on “How to Identify a Drowning Victim” that emphasized we all “think” we know what drowning looks like based on TV and film depictions, but it is almost never like that, and unless you are really looking for it, you’ll miss it most of the time.

    3. Amber T*

      The amount of shock and, frankly, bad press over the “aggressive” CPR done on Damar Hamlin (NFL player who recently collapsed on the field) made me realize that not enough people are trained in CPR. Heck, I’m a boring office-goer who has thankfully never had to perform CPR for real, and I can only imagine it’s so much harder and scarier when doing it on someone who actually needs it. But I’ve gone through CPR training, and we did the “aggressive” chest compressions on the dummy for two straight minutes before switching out with a partner… that’s a lot of physical effort.

    4. Sister Spider*

      I was an EMT for a few years and they’re still dragging those carts with the paddles out on every medical show and shocking patients who show a flatline on the monitor, too.

    5. Vesper Should Have Lived*

      YES, that CPR scene in Casino Royale has always driven me nuts! He’s even got her slanted the wrong way on the roof so whatever water is in her can’t even use gravity to flow towards her mouth instead of staying in her lungs. This is my “Jack could have fit on the door with Rose,” unnecessary-cinematic-death hill that I will die on, ha ha.

      1. CowWhisperer*

        I was 16 when Titanic came out – and I remember being amused that Jack was gonna die because two adults couldn’t manage to stay on a huge door when my friends and I could get three people on a single pool mattress…..

  25. KTinDC*

    The number of police procedurals that think that a librarian will just give them patron or circulation information is alarming.

    1. Critical Rolls*

      Librarian: Oh, yes, I have that information right here.
      Librarian: [smiling politely]
      Cop: …
      Cop: Are you gonna give it to me?
      Librarian: Do you have a warrant?

      Or just “we don’t retain that information” for privacy reasons exactly like this.

      1. Tinkerbell*


        No, we can’t tell you every book you (or your children) have ever checked out. The only people who ever ask us for that information (besides you) probably shouldn’t have it, so we prefer not to even make fulfilling their requests a possibility.

        1. AABBCC123*

          Legitimately curious, is there a line when that privacy protection would not apply? For example if it becomes clear that someone is actively planning violence?

          In my state at least, attorney-client privilege doesn’t apply to crimes that haven’t been committed. Also EVERY ADULT is a mandated reporter and can go to jail if they learn of abuse and don’t report to the authorities.

          1. Tinkerbell*

            I never ran into that situation, thank goodness, so I didn’t have to find out. (I was the “branch manager” and also sole employee at a one-room library out in the boonies.) I did stretch the rules once – a teenager stole my purse, I knew who did it (he was the only one there), and I used the computer to look up his home address when the police officer asked if I knew where he lived. I think technically I could have gotten fired for that but I really needed my keys to get home!

          2. Critical Rolls*

            My experience is that we just don’t do a level of monitoring that would give us that information. We don’t have a “how to do crime” shelf. The internet is lightly filtered, enough to block sites whose only purpose is “how to do crime.” Unless someone is dumb enough to come to the desk and say “I want a book about how to poison someone” or “Why can’t I access” it’s not likely we’d even know.

          3. Jean Pargetter Hardcastle*

            I think every state has slightly different laws regarding where the lines are. People (including cops, yikes) always seem quite stunned to learn that this is actually a law, not just me being difficult.

            1. AABBCC123*

              This could be a thread in and of itself, laws that affect your work that no one knows about; for example in NY the minimum age to be in a first aid squad is set in the “Arts and Cultural Affairs law”, not the health code or the labor law.

    2. Odditor*

      Honestly, the way police get evidence in most procedurals is kinda terrifying. From basic stuff like picking things up with a pencil to the really awful things like breaking into someone’s home or roughing up a witness… real-life police already behave in enough ethically questionable ways as it is.

    3. Here for the Insurance*

      My library wouldn’t even give me my *own* information, even with an ID.

      I was so happy they were that protective of people’s info, I almost danced out of the building.

    4. k*

      Same with any business I’ve worked with customer data. If some cop walks in I (the person at the front desk) is not going to just hand over customer details. So not worth losing my job.

  26. Kvothe*

    I was a laboratory scientist in a former life, and unsurprisingly science is pretty much never portrayed accurately. For academic labs, it’s always shown as WAY more organized/clean than it is in real life. And there are really rarely brightly and variously colored chemicals/solutions hanging around in beakers/graduated cylinders – for the most part, everything is white or clear! (I was a biochemist, so for other fields YMMV I suppose.)

    Oh and it’s hardly ever the professor/big boss in the lab making the “big discovery” – in real life it’s an exhausted and jaded grad student/postdoc/staff scientist :)

    1. AngryOctopus*

      Oh yes. CSI timings are terribly inaccurate (I WISH PCR would come off the machine in minutes), and the granularity achieved is stunning and I wish I could have that in my job (pharm biotech research).
      I have zero brightly colored liquids hanging around my bench, but media is red, if that counts.

      1. PostalMixup*

        Unless you’re using the version of DMEM without the phenol red! I do have a conical of fluorescein at my bench, and it’s very pretty. As are my quencher-labeled oligos. And in grad school I engineered a GFP-expressing cell line that was so bright I could screen +/- by just looking at the pellet.

        But yeah, it drives me crazy when they put the swab in the centrifuge and up pops a DNA double helix on the computer screen and the tech goes “the DNA matches our suspect!” No sequencer, no bioinformatic analysis pipeline, no RFLP analysis.

      2. American in Ireland*

        Molecular biologist here. I was forever confused as to why they would talk about DNA sequencing and then go use the big whatever mass spec / scintillation counter / thingy. Why are they not actually sequencing the DNA. Oh. The big moving machine is actually supposed to be the machine that makes DNA sequences.

        Lots of yelling at various forensic shows around here. Bones, CSI, NCIS… I can’t even watch them any more.

      3. Lora*

        That’s why Fisher Sci makes those rainbow colored tube racks. Cause everything else is boring looking.

        I work for Big Pharma (well, Startup Biotech at the moment) and the most exciting part of the job is when one of the drugs you worked on two years ago is finally advanced to the next stage, long after it’s passed through your hands. I didn’t find out that one of the drugs I worked on had actually gone commercial until about ten years after I no longer worked for that company, and I only found out because the CDMO I was working for happened to get a manufacturing contract for it.

        It’s never just one person who discovers a drug at all, even in the early stages there’s still at least two dozen people doing the work. To progress a drug through all the clinical stages takes the work of hundreds of people, it’s definitely not Sean Connery in the rainforest falling in love with his colleague while they fight logging companies type of thing. The vast majority of the time we discover a new molecule, we don’t have a clue what it might do, it probably affects a lot of different systems and will need a lot of refinement to be a good candidate molecule, nevermind passing clinical trials for a specific illness in a reasonably credible fashion.

      4. TheAG*

        I curse CSI in general. I was a quality lab manager at a large CPG manufacturer and someone walked into my office with a jar of something that was brown-ish. “Can you tell me what’s in this?”. Yeah, no it doesn’t work that way, and if you don’t know what’s in it please remove it from my office.
        When I was young and working at the bench I was in a commercial for the company, so they were following me around trying to get shots but apparently what I was doing wasn’t science-y looking enough so they told me to do something that looks like science lol. I just ended up titrating something with a burette. That seemed to satisfy them.

    2. Ama*

      I was coming here to say this — I work specifically in medical research and they don’t do that properly either — Gray’s Anatomy in particular I had to stop watching once they started doing research storylines because they are just so unethical and half their research related plots wouldn’t happen because of the regulatory safeguards that are in place to make sure those exact situations are prevented.

      1. IRB analyst*

        Oh I was wondering about that below! Guess I should find those episodes when I’m in the mood to point and boo at unethical research!

    3. My Cabbages!*

      And please let me state for the record:

      *Stating that you’re a PhD is not a flex in science, it’s the bare minimum for a non-technician.

      *Stating someone has multiple PhDs won’t impress a scientist. It doesn’t mean you’re super smart, it means you can’t commit to a field of study.

      *Just because someone has a PhD in one scientific subject doesn’t make them an expert at all science. Your physicist isn’t going to be able to whip up an explosive, and your chemist can’t treat an unknown disease. Hell, I am a microbiologist and I couldn’t tell an alder tree from an elder tree.

      *Research takes a long freaking time. Oh no, the bad guy has released his deadly virus on the hero and only the lovely heroine can save him! Welp, say goodbye because just culturing enough virus to study is going to take all night, if she’s lucky.

      *Microscopes can’t do that.

      *DNA definitely, definitely can’t do that.

      1. Sam*

        A character saying that they have 6 PhDs in closely related fields is like saying they lost their virginity 6 times. It’s a one and done thing and then you move on.

        1. Sister Spider*

          Also, 6 science PhDs is a level of unmatched masochism. 6 dissertations? That many PIs? TA jobs??

            1. New Jack Karyn*

              I suppose the ‘logic’ there is that he’s so gosh-darn brilliant that he can whomp up a diss in 3-6 months. And/or that he realizes that his breakthroughs have applications in more than one field, and writes them up with a slightly different focus.

          1. tamarack etc.*

            Indeed. You only need to go through the experience once, and then you have a PhD and have learned what you needed from it. If you *really* want to formally immerse yourself in a different but adjacent discipline, with a piece of paper in the end, you get an MS. That teaches you where the state of the art is in this subfield and how to competently work in it. Done.

            1. DyneinWalking*

              Yeah. A PhD is less about getting expertise in the field and more about getting expertise with the research process itself. It’s somewhat similar to learning a trade; you learn the craft of research. It’s expected that you already have the relevant background knowledge for your field.
              Unless the fields are really different – like switching from molecular biology to literary studies – it’s pretty pointless to start again from scratch. Honestly getting a second PhD in a related field mostly sounds like you couldn’t find any place that was prepared to pay you as a postdoc. Which may not necessarily be your fault but either way isn’t something to brag about.

      2. Librarian of Many Hats*

        I know many PhDs who are perfectly nice people and respect the expertise of others. I also know some who aren’t and don’t. Many of the latter happen to be men in the sciences.

      3. Laura*

        *Stating that you’re a PhD is not a flex in science, it’s the bare minimum for a non-technician.

        Ouch! Plenty of us are working at scientist level roles without PhDs. I’ve worked with plenty of great scientists with “just” a masters or even BS; I’ve also worked with some pretty worthless PhDs.

        1. TH*

          Yeah, my husband is a scientist with a Masters degree who is currently job searching and nobody has even brought up the fact that he doesn’t have a PhD. They are much more interested in his industry experience.

    4. irene adler*

      Biochemist in Quality for a manufacturing company.
      Hoo Boy!

      All the tests work- never/rarely a failure! And so speedy too! With just the right results for what is needed.

      Labs sooo neat and tidy. Where’s all the dirty glassware at?

      Disparate kinds of work done in the same lab: like reconstruction of the murder implement, an analysis of the paint found on vehicle, a DNA analysis and finally, a seroconversion status.
      The research animals are in cages right there in the lab-like pets.

      Lack of log-books for equipment, animals, etc.

      Either folks don full-on PPE or nothing.

      Lab explosions. Especially the big ones that catch the lab techs by surprise. What the heck are they using in that lab??

      1. Nesprin*

        Not to mention lab tape.

        Like a third of my lab is held together by lab tape, and yet, no colorful stripes labeling “this beaker is Jeremy’s, all others go find your own beaker” or “in use don’t touch till 1/22/19” or “beware of Oliver, he bites”

          1. Nesprin*

            Sharpies pshaw. Spring for the good ethanol-proof VWR pens- they’re amazing if you have to do ethanol wiping all the time.

            1. genomics tech*

              Research associate here – my favorite is fine-tip Sarstedt pens! I hoard them and hide them all over when we get new boxes in.

      2. my cat is the employee of the month*

        Balances placed directly on benches! Biological labs without any hoods! Well tailored lab coats!

    5. Nesprin*

      Oh yes. No one on TV pipettes correctly, no one wears the correct PPE, and I’ve never worked in a lab that had bubbling green liquids. I’ve never seen a TV show actually portray the excitement of getting a band on a blot where you wanted to see a band on a blot.

      The big bang theory is a particular anti-favorite. There are, in fact, women who work in labs who aren’t nerdy jerks.

      1. Med Lab Scientist*

        I currently work in a clinical microbiology lab, we occasionally do have bubbling green liquid when preparing a particular culture media. But 100% agree between the tape and things working they way they are supposed to.

      2. my cat is the employee of the month*

        My lab did bubbling beakers (water, food dye, dry ice) for Halloween one year, and our safety guy dropped in to make sure we were okay. He didn’t appreciate it.

    6. spiriferida*

      The equipment is always new, no one ever spends an hour cleaning the dirty glassware, they’re never swapping out their pipette tips or discarding their slides or having their equipment beeping obnoxiously at them because it just decided not to work this time. I’m not in research (so I don’t really exist in media), but in both the commercial and academic labs I’ve worked in, the equipment is always ‘what we can get’, and there’s always months if not years of old records and broken equipment just… there, because no one’s gotten around to dealing with it. My current job we have to go all the way to the board to get rid of anything. We have whole rooms of just stuff. We’re getting new fume hoods and it’s just about the most exciting thing in years.

      Oh, and the safety procedures are always terrible, but that’s a given. Nary a chemical shower or a broken glass bin in sight.

    7. Sister Spider*

      The labs are always so dark. Like on CSI – how could those people even see to load a PCR plate.

    8. Manders*

      I love this thread. All of the above is 100% accurate. Especially the comment about the animals *being in the lab like pets* – thank you for the laugh! And while I’m not a lab tech in a crime lab, the Law & Order thing where the same guy who analyzed fingerprints also did the blood spatter analysis and also the bullet analysis and also the DNA analysis, etc, always made me chuckle.

      1. TomatoSoup*

        I have been to the NYPD lab where most of those tests are actually run and I laugh that TV shows make it look sleek like the inside of an Apple store or centrally located. It is neither.

    9. Tongue Cluckin' Grammarian*

      I worked in an anatomic pathology lab for a number of years (accession, some gross, transcription, and protocols)

      Movies and shows always have the biopsy results in minutes. That’s pretty rare, and never as detail as the reports they end up reading for those quick turnarounds. You have to process the specimens and get them in paraffin blocks before you can slide and stain them!

      1. The Katie*

        I also work in anatomical pathology, and I’ve found that most people have no idea how the whole process or the equipment used really works. Some highlights include my father assuming that slides get coversliped immediately after cutting, doctors asking for unrealistically fast turn around times for renal wedges, and my personal favourite, this mislabeled microtome: (bottom picture).

        1. Tongue Cluckin' Grammarian*

          Our doctors wanted unrealistically fast turnarounds for a lot of things, lol. We created a lot of documentation to try and set expectations properly, but sometimes they demanded we subvert time somehow.

          And that picture set is amazing. I love the implication that the waterbath is for intentionally growing organisms.

    10. My Cabbages!*

      When I was in grad school I had to do a Biuret test to see if I’d adequately unprotected my reactant-linked amino acids. I was so excited because I finally got to do an experiment that depended on whether my liquid changed color or not.

    1. another social worker*

      Also regardless of what type of social work it is, whether it’s therapy, case management, child protection, etc. All the ethical and boundary violations make me wince.

    2. Lcsa99*

      Have you watched Travelers? I don’t know how social work actually works, but I always pictured it the way David is portrayed, at least in the beginning. Too many people assigned to him, no budget to work with, to time to do everything and anything he does do for people he basically has to do on his own time.

    3. EvilQueenRegina*

      Not sure what country you’re in, but I’ve definitely seen some bad examples of that in the UK. At a time when I used to have to set up regularly scheduled family time between children in care and their birth families, struggling to find supervisor cover and venues for this to take place three days a week while a soap opera here gave someone one contact in her own home after three weeks of baby being placed with family member (there were a lot of comments art the time about how was that family member even approved anyway – UK people, it was Phil Mitchell) steam was coming out of my ears. If that was the norm, I could have more easily handled that on top of my official job. But hey, that’s another story.

    4. Spero*

      Was scrolling to find social work! 90% of us do not work in CPS. And why do school and hospital based shows never have a social worker? I usually just assume whatever helpful and competent character who doesn’t have a named profession is actually the social worker haha

      I spend half my day on grant reporting/monitoring, 25% on staff supervision and the rest of it paying to keep people from being evicted.

      1. Cavia Porcellus*

        As someone who DOES work in CPS, that’s also not how CPS works!

        The most recent example I can think of is Netflix’s Sandman. Which depicts a CPS agency that:
        1) Does NOT do any family finding, when there is literally a mother who desperately wants her child back and just happens to live in another state
        2) Does NOT facilitate a visit between the child in placement and his sibling who shows up searching for him
        3) Does NOT conduct regular (minimum monthly) in-placement face-to-face visits with the child
        4) Does NOT have any services referrals in place for mental health or anything else for the child despite him being placed because of a parent’s death

        I spent an episode just raging at the TV. My husband was more entertained by my yelling than he was by the show!

    5. TheMonkeyShuffle*

      Thank you!! If I see a social worker in a show or movie I immediately guess they’re the killer or thief. Or at very least they are TERRIBLE at being therapists. After being a hospital social worker for most of my career I actually get more irritated watching the doctors in medical dramas do job of like 8 different disciplines

      1. AMT*

        Yes! TV always has a very optimistic view of doctors’ willingness to do any form of discharge planning.

    6. Introvert Teacher*

      The social workers always get sh*t on in every storyline! I am not one but as a former teacher our school social workers were the champs! You guys put in more emotional labor than anyone in any other field could possibly imagine, and you do it with incredible heart, with no respect from society and the media. If anyone can think of a positive representation then please correct me. The last time I remember seeing a social worker on TV was in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman and she was portrayed as a clueless cog in the system for not detecting the abuse happening within a foster home; then she gets killed unceremoniously by the villain.

    7. Raida*

      have you seen… British series… “Damned” ? Obviously the characters are on the larger than life side, but I’m interested in the actual tasks and responsibilities and processes they were going through. Had a real ‘this is not fun or exciting and we aren’t out to get you’ feel to it

      1. Cavia Porcellus*

        Lilo & Stitch was my favorite depiction. Cobra Bubbles having The Talk with Nani about how he knows how much she loves Lilo, but is *this* really what Lilo needs, and could we talk a bit more about how to give Lilo some stability? – It was heartbreaking when I first saw it in high school and it’s so relatable now as someone in the field.

      2. SocialworkerL*

        Oh, I couldn’t stand the social workers in Instant Family. They brushed off his valid concerns about being a “white savior” they are so demeaning toward the birth mother, the adoption class they teach is a nightmare when it could have been an opportunity to really confront stereotypes about adoption … I generally liked the movie but I can’t think of any movie or show that really gets social work right.

    8. Pajama Mommas*

      I was looking for the social worker thread! Our code of ethics is very clear that that is never okay to sleep with clients (and your state board can impose all sorts of punishment for doing it), but so many therapists in the media sleep with their clients with no consequences.

  27. H3llifIknow*

    Oh Dear Sweet Baby Deity NO. I am a Cyber Security SME and I don’t really do ANY of the “cool” hacker/forensic type stuff that TV portrays, ala Garcia on Criminal Minds, etc…I do enjoy watching those types of portrayals though because they make me laugh and WISH my job were as easy as clicking a few keys and “Voila!” … My son is a Firefighter/Paramedic and he HATES the portrayals of FFs and ‘medics on TV. No, they don’t all look like GQ models; no, everyone in the station is NOT sleeping with everyone else. No, people don’t go rogue on a call and rush in after being told to stand down, etc… The only one he likes at all is Tacoma FD which is more of a comedy/parody of shows like ‘Station 19’ etc..

    1. Sloanicota*

      Cyber stuff: I love how there’s always a database of every type of cement or whatever that the computer geek can filter through with some very unlikely attributes.

      1. H3llifIknow*

        …and don’t forget how they can always quickly access private/protected medical records, etc… “Oh he was hospitalized as a dangerous paranoid schizo 3 years ago.” Sigh.

          1. H3llifIknow*

            Yikes. Let me go back to my dark isolated room, lit only by my many many monitors busily hacking into …everything…. but where I don’t know that such things exist….

        1. Eat My Squirrel*

          Taking it one step further, it drives me insane how many movies and shows have this dialog:
          “I can’t tell you that, it’s classified.”
          -sad eyes-
          “Ok I’ll tell you, Person who doesn’t have a security clearance, out here in the open where anyone could overhear, but DON’T SAY I TOLD YOU.”

          Sigh. Just once I’d love to see that person who just gave the hero classified information have their security clearance revoked, be fired, and face jail time.

          1. H3llifIknow*

            OMG yes. And the way they use the different classifications is hysterical. “I have Top Secret.” How high? “Tippy Top.” Sigh or “Let me just carry around this folder with a big read stamp ‘EYES ONLY'”….

        2. Tau*

          The amount of times they just casually break encryption, too.

          Like… if they don’t have the key then either someone messed up when setting up the encryption, the characters are in possession of what’s basically an absurd superweapon, or they are not getting at that data before the heat death of the universe.

    2. Infosec*

      Thank you! My favorite/least-favorite scene is the notorious two-people-typing-on-a-keyboard-at-once-to-more-faster-quickly-stop-the-evil-scary-bad-hacker. Just…. no, that doesn’t work that way.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        I assumed that was satire. The one that gets me yelling-at-the-TV mad is the Bones episode where a hacker/serial killer who hasn’t been allowed near a computer in 10 years manages to hack a computer by carving marks on a bone. Meaning that he managed to hack into an unknown photo program based on a photo taken at an unknown angle with unknown lighting, *and* he got it right on the first try.

        In my computer security class, I spent a week just trying to tweak a buffer-overflow attack to work for a known OS and never succeeded.

        1. H3llifIknow*

          That must have occurred after I stopped watching Bones when it just got increasingly ridiculous and veered so far away from the (very good) books that I couldn’t stop being angry at every episode. That would have launched me from my chair at the TV I think!

    3. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      Also in cyber here. The number of bit/byte streams that flow across my screens in a visually exciting way is zero.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        Okay, but you do fly through 3-D pixelated cities to access files, or send virtual warriors to fight the virtual monsters in order to defeat computer security, right?

        (Visual depictions of computer “worms” and “trojan horses” crack me up every time.)

    4. Russ*

      Yes! I also work in computer security, and while the job of responding to an intrusion in real time does exist, it (a) doesn’t look like that, (b) is much rarer than any TV show thinks, and (c) even if you are pulled in to an incident, very few people do that work all the time.

      Nearly all of my job is thinking about how people log in to things and how systems talk to each other, looking for mistakes, and trying to keep everyone else writing software or assembling things from creating future problems. It’s all very boring hypotheticals and analysis tools and from the outside is indistinguishable from software development, which in turn is indistinguishable from staring at a computer screen full of not-moving code and muttering and occasionally typing something.

      1. Weyrwoman*

        Hello fellow IR person. TV always shows us as responding to what I call ‘live’ events where a threat actor is actively in our system and we’re trying to shut access out while containing while working out motive.


        My day to day is more like “hey is this email phishing I think it’s phishing” “no, person, that’s not phishing that’s just someone who bought a list” or “have you talked to IT yet because that sounds like not-a-security problem”. On exciting days I get to investigate something that happened three days ago, affected one user or system, and did absolutely nothing of note.

    5. Darury*

      On a related note, I work in IT storage. It kills me when they break into the data center to steal data, grab ONE drive out of a computer and that contains everything they need. Data is typically striped across multiple drives including a parity bit, so if you lose one of them, you can pop in a replacement and rebuild the lost bits. For our storage, they have external encryption, so even if forklifted out the several thousand pound cabinet, you STILL wouldn’t have easy access to the data.

    6. frankie*

      married to a paramedic at a fire station and so far he’s seen 3 fistfights over people sleeping with someone else’s partner, so.

    7. Starscourge Savvy*

      But do you and a coworker type on the same keyboard at the same time to more quickly counter-hack security risks?? XD

  28. CTT*

    Corporate and real estate lawyer here! It’s not that I’m horrified at how my job is represented on television, it’s that we don’t show up at all. I mean, I get why criminal law or high-stakes litigation makes up the vast majority of entertainment depictions of lawyers. It’s built-in drama! And who wants to watch a show about people arguing over indemnification provisions? But! there is a real opportunity for a good sitcom here. I spend so much of my time dealing with the whims of rich people, and those whims can be hilarious. I once had to move up a closing because the client got invited to go climb one of the Alps!

    As it is, I think the closest representation I have seen of my job on TV was the evil law firm Wolfram & Hart on “Angel,” because I believe several of them were transactional attorneys. Obviously there are no human sacrifices in BigLaw but…not so far off?

    1. Ginger Baker*

      I definitely felt Wolfram & Hart depicted some more-realistic situations. Esp. once Angel took over because then it was “okay so we don’t want to Do Evil but also we have a client who Is Evil, where’s the win-win solution here?” Also the office politics, and the way major moves were frequently all paperwork versus like, Slaying (pre- and post-Angel-run firm).

    2. Jenny*

      Even in criminal law you rarely see things like Calendar or slow meetings that make up most of the work. I used to clerk and Friday Calendar was a mix of tedious and exhausting. We’d be lucky if “morning Calendar” was done by 4. The clerks would sneak granola bars and protein shakes because we couldn’t leave.

    3. Corporate Lawyer*

      Ditto, corporate/securities lawyer here. I have yet to see a dramatization of what I do. Though, in fairness, even I wouldn’t watch a show about drafting, reviewing, and filing reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

      Totally agree that Wolfram & Hart was a not-too-far-off depiction of transactional lawyers. I have yet to invoke demons at a closing, but I’ve worked on transactions where it might have helped.

    4. Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced Bouquet!)*

      I’m a trusts and estates attorney, so I also spend a lot of time dealing with the whims of rich people, and the stuff they get up to can be hilarious or ridiculous (“How much money do you want to leave for the care of your cat? Half a million? Okay, so more than you’re leaving your kids…”)
      A part of me thinks a show based around the conflict between a scrappy sales department and in-house counsel could be funny.

    5. an attorney*

      Right, I’m not horrified by how entertainment portrays the law, although every so often I do get my hackles up about Law & Order a) not accurately portraying evidentiary rules (so much hearsay!) or b) allowing an attorney to testify, rather than questioning the witness. I’m never in court, but I recognize it would be difficult to portray most daily law work in a manner that attracts viewers.

      1. Jenny*

        Or lawyers who keep talking after an objection rather than allowing the judge to rule. You’d be in so much trouble for that.

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          Or arguing back and forth with the judge after they rule! Nobody does that unless they are badly in need of a contempt citation. Shut up, sit down, and hold onto some credibility and capital for the next objection.

          (One of my favorite John Mulaeny bits is the L&O Original Recipe tropes one: “Judge Who Allows Everything. ‘Mmm, I’ll allow it watch yourself, McCoy!'”)

          1. LawGal*

            I’d love to see a show that is just the appellate bureau dealing with all appeals from McCoy’s shenanigans.

    6. Bored Lawyer*

      Even high-stakes litigators spend like 80% of their days answering emails. Not exactly scintilating television.

    7. higheredrefugee*

      As a federal attorney doing nothing but administrative law, I’m definitely not seen on television or in movies. But if people knew how much time many lawyers spend just writing and reading by ourselves, they’d stop encouraging people with great oral advocacy skills (without knowing anything about writing capabilities) to go to law school.

      1. eye roll*

        Same here, and I’m with you. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve trained for this job who are great at arguing, but have writing skills that make me wonder how they actually completed the bar.

    8. ticktick*

      Yes, and every shot of any lawyer’s computer screen shows nice clean text on a white background – no redlines anywhere in sight! I weep for the lack of “Track Changes”, the commercial lawyer’s best friend.

    9. CarlDean*

      I’m a divorce lawyer for high net worth clients. TV doesn’t capture the absurdity and drama of what I see in real life. Truth really is stranger than fiction.

      1. MeepMeep123*

        Oh yes. My wife is a divorce lawyer and I often think that her practice would make a heck of a TV show. Or a series of novels.

        I’m a patent lawyer, myself, and that never shows up on TV, even though that’s frequently very entertaining. I work for individual inventors, mostly, so I get a lot of really crazy inventions and ideas.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          There is a British show called The Split about a family of divorce laywers that ran for several seasons. I have no idea whether it’s supposed to be accurate or not, though.

      2. Anon attorney*

        This is very true. However, it’s also true that I spend a fair amount of time reading through financial documentation and working on spreadsheets. Which is not scintillating viewing. Far better to show us roaring “OBJECTION!! in a designer suit.

        Speaking of which, most attorneys I deal with are significantly less attractive and well dressed than our TV avatars…

    10. Not That Kind of Lawyer*

      Fellow lawyer here. “My Cousin Vinny” had one of the most accurate depictions of what can happen in court. It was the scene where Vinny objected to an expert witness. He gave an accurate summary of the law and was absolutely right, but he was still overruled. This happens and all you can do is got back to your seat and plan to either file a writ o an appeal.

      1. Was I ready for a career leap?*

        I’ve been in practice for a decade — the first big chunk of it doing municipal/insurance defense (with side work for municipalities to enforce local ordinances and/or minor traffic violations), and the latter portion on plaintiff’s side largely for car accident or slip and fall cases. With rare exception there has been more conflict in both of those jobs with my own clients’ unrealistic expectations than with the opposition or with judges.

        Instead of dramatic courtroom scenes, it’s begging a governing board for settlement authority or trying to get someone to take (reasonable) offered money and run when they could walk with $0 due to a liability question — and then feeling stuck going through the motions of additional discovery without any real ability to control the trajectory of the case when your client won’t play ball.

        Even on the rare occasions where some Court has gone rogue (e.g. once had a state court judge tell me NYT v. Sullivan didn’t apply to a libel claim), the real challenge is usually getting the client on board with the most logical next steps. i.e. sure we could litigate this case to trial and then have a good chance of winning an appeal of the denial of our motion to dismiss — but if the other side will take $5-10K in nuisance money to go away, why do you want to spend $40K and 2 years to do that?

    11. Anonn*

      Not that it’s a huge part of the show, but the main character of Crazy Ex Girlfriend is a real estate lawyer…and does very, many not real estate lawyer-y things. You might get a kick out of the song “Don’t Be a Lawyer” though.

    12. JelloStapler*

      My Dad (rest in peace) was a real estate lawyer. You’re right not very glitzy but also had some good perks if you were the legal support for the company.

  29. Buffalo gal*

    I’m an Episcopal priest. I can’t think of any depiction of either priests or Protestant pastors that are anything like my life. In fact most of the depictions of pastors I can think of would get the priest/pastor brought up on disciplinary charges or seriously counselled for violating boundaries.

      1. QuinFirefrorefiddle*

        Hilariously I couldn’t get through the first ten minutes of an episode because it was so true to life that it gave me anxiety. I’m in a better place now, I should try it again. :)

        1. PastorLobbyist*

          I also came here to say Rev.! It’s the only show I can think of that really nailed the experience of ministry.

    1. many bells down*

      I work for a church and I don’t think any show has ever depicted how WEIRD church life can get.

        1. QuinFirefrorefiddle*

          That show *is* beloved by a lot of clergy I know. And it gets the feel right, I’m not an expert in Anglican details. The one thing I couldn’t believe was that I’ve never met a congregation so loyal to their pastor that they’d protect her through 2 weeks of no-showing for worship, like after that one breakup she has. Not all of us have bunny suits, either.

        2. Jean Pargetter Hardcastle*

          Not clergy, but as an active church council member, I find Vicar of Dibley quite resonant in a lot of ways!

    2. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Haha this reminds me of watching My Big Fat Greek Wedding (I’m Orthodox). The liturgical bits were the least accurate. Everything else felt very, very accurate. There’s a running joke that it’s not a movie, it’s a documentary.

      1. fish*

        I’m Jewish, and it also feels very accurate. My family makes new partners watch it so they know what they’re getting into.

    3. LongTimeReader*

      Same!!! And I have also never ever solved a murder mystery in my free time. But maybe that’s just because I don’t live in England!

    4. QuinFirefrorefiddle*

      Lutheran (woman) pastor here. I hear a lot of shows/movies do ok with Catholic priests. Nondenominational/Evangelical are usually mostly okay. Mainline liturgical protestant? Absolutely not. And usually the fixes are so easy! The church calendar, aside from when Easter is, is pretty simple! That tells you what color the decor should be! Even if you went with the Catholic thing of advent being purple, that would be fine! But no. Seventh Heaven was so bad at so many things. A pastor dad can’t just give his pastor daughter a job. The denominational leadership wouldn’t stand for that, she needs to be away from him to develop!

    5. melbelle*

      This was my fundamental problem with Fleabag–yes the Priest is hot, and yes, they have amazing chemistry, but like. He really cannot actually behave this way, and this relationship would be SO much more toxic for both of them than it is on the show. (Not a pastor, but a pastor’s kid who’s been active in church life and leadership forever)

  30. Anomonys*

    There’s an entire TV series that takes place in and around my specific workplace. It’s rather silly and gets most of the details wrong, though the overall themes are correct. It was fun to watch with coworkers and see how different roles were represented. My role wasn’t in the show, sadly.

  31. The Prettiest Curse*

    I’m an event planner and the recent Netflix documentaries on the Fyre Festival and Woodstock ’99 accurately accurately portray the worst case scenario when you don’t plan an event properly. (I plan my events properly, and fortunately they are not music festivals.)

    And if you’re not authorised to have the microphone at one of my events, you’re not going to keep hold of it regardless of what personal drama or romantic tribulations you are experiencing. Sort it out in your own time – my event schedule does not have time for your heartfelt speech to your ex!

    1. Ama*

      Those I actually enjoyed (I have done some event planning during my career), because they do bring home that when you plan an event that (for example) requires ordering chairs and setting them up somewhere, you have to assign someone to receive the delivery and set the chairs up — it was like the organizers thought all the little details would just magically happen and no one would have to do the grunt work.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Agreed, you can’t just wing it with an event of that size! So many horrible things happened (at Woodstock ’99 especially) that could have been avoided with adequate planning. Frankly, I was amazed that nobody died at either event, because the organisers clearly just didn’t care about attendee safety.

    2. joriley*

      I’m an event planner and I’ll add that 95% of my job is at a computer. Half the time I don’t even go to the event, or I leave after setup to do something else. It’s not glamorous.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Yup, the amount of time spent at glamourous event venues is a tiny percentage of the job. Making glamorous stuff happen involves very little actual glamour.

    3. CivilServant*

      I have so much respect for event planners. It’s been part of my job in the past, and I suck at it and hate it.

  32. LexArch*

    I used to be an archaeologist…so…ABSOLUTELY NOT!! The best thing I’ve ever seen with archaeologists in it is the BBC’s Detectorists, which is hilarious and perfect, but not really about archaeologists so much as detector hobbyists.

    I’m now an impact manager which to my knowledge has never been on TV and frankly I can see why.

  33. RIP Pillow Fort*

    I’m a geologist and there’s such a mixed bag. From The Core to Prometheus there is just nonsense and bad field procedures. But at least most of the time it’s a fun movie.

    Though Jurassic Park did get me into geology even if I’m not in a paleontologist. I still feel like the beginning has one of the better scenes of somewhat accurate field work.

    1. Alistair*

      At least us geologists are always portrayed as the rugged and dashing individuals we truly are! Pierce Brosnan in Dante’s Peak, anyone? (Also one of the very few movies I can think of with fairly good geo-science in it)

        1. Pepperoni Pup*

          I’m a geologist who works with engineers and one used to jokingly call me “Kim” occasionally because on the show Sheldon tells Penny that geologists are like the Kardashians of science :(

    2. Not Australian*

      There’s a brilliant episode about geology in ‘From The Earth To The Moon’, where the astronauts are taught the value of observing their surroundings accurately.

      1. RIP Pillow Fort*

        That episode is something I really love. And while it’s a dramatized series, the true story behind the push to have practical geology sampling on the Moon is one of my favorites. I’ve always had a soft spot for off-earth geologic processes/interpretation.

        I live in hope that SOMEDAY we get more geologists on the Moon if not Mars.

    3. Chidi has a stomach ache*

      OMG, I got so angry watching Prometheus for this reason. I’m usually pretty open to suspending my disbelief but every decision made by “SMEs” in that film was terrible and frustrating.

      1. RIP Pillow Fort*

        Agreed. The Core (while terrible) has a good memory attached to it and is more silly than infuriating, so I can’t hate it too much. Plus it has an unobtanium plot which I don’t know why I find those fun, but I do.

        I ended up watching it on a TV in an empty Mexican restaurant with all of my classmates while we were having dinner after field work. It’s much better with margaritas and people going full MST3K on it.

      2. Chutney Jitney*

        You mean taking off their helmets or do you mean touching a totally new alien species because they’re “cute”? Morons. It was so bad it was like 1950s sci-fi.

    4. geological engy*

      I found a lot of the movie representations adjacent to geology to be mostly hilarious– we used to have movie nights at uni that pretty much turned into drinking games laughing at the inaccuracy of movies like San Andreas. Gold was pretty good though!

    5. Tinkerbell*

      At DragonCon (science fiction and fan convention) every year, the science track has a panel called “Science Versus Movies.” They get half a dozen real scientists – renowned experts in their fields – up on stage, then show clips of THE WORST MOVIE SCIENCE TO EVER EXIST and panelists have to explain how actually, that was 100% accurate (using lots of horribly tortured explanations). They usually get very drunk and sometimes they cry. It’s hilarious :-D

  34. GRA*

    Non-profit fundrasier here – any time we are portrayed it is the opposite of the ethics we abide by (I have never murdered anyone for family money or had a romantic relationship with a donor!)

    1. BeesKnees*

      No actual murder but … I do confess to joking about giving our Planned Giving Donors extra bacon at the Thank You breakfast every year :-) And, at the same time, telling them that by making a planned gift, they are all ensuring they will celebrate their 100th birthday.

      1. KT*

        At one org I was at we were debriefing our annual meeting and someone mentioned having helped out an elderly gentleman who fainted and our planned giving manager yelled out “why didn’t you call me?!?”

    2. KT*

      “Never murdered anyone for family money” made me lol! So few fundraisers on the screen (and never the roles I’ve held – gift processing and prospect research) though I have often fantasized with colleagues about who would play us when they finally do make a movie of our job. I’m hoping for Aubrey Plaza.

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        Yeah, no prospect research on the big screen! I think a movie about a prospect researcher solving a mystery would be pretty awesome, to be honest.

      1. GRA*

        LOL! The only times I can remember seeing fundraisers portrayed are an old episodes of Law & Order where the fundraiser was killing some of her donors and the movie Backdraft where the fundraiser was having an affair with a doctor … I promise I haven’t done either!!!!

      2. Aarti*

        Hey my people! Well I am not a fundraiser anymore but I do work for not for profit. Man, we sure are sleazy on tv! Doing anything to get money or attention.

    3. WoodswomanWrites*

      Another nonprofit fundraiser here. I guess an actor trying to trim narrative to meet character limits in a grant application doesn’t make for good entertainment.

  35. Valkyrie*

    Nope! I work in estate planning (wills and trusts). “Reading of the Will” is not a thing (at least not in my state), we don’t gather around a fireplace wearing our ascots and listen to the attorney list off who is getting what. Lots of people seem disappointed when I tell them that’s not how things work.

    I also used to be a therapist, and I cannot watch shows about therapists. I can’t get past all the blatant violations.

    1. Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced Bouquet!)*

      I’m also in trusts and estates, and every time I see a reddit AITA post about a reading of the will, I just want to ask where they hell they’re located because I’ve never heard of that happening IRL.

      1. Valkyrie*

        YES!!! I see those all the time. My thoughts are either “this person mis-named the experience” or “this post is total BS” (usually the latter)

        1. Rosamond*

          Trusts and estates here too (corporate fiduciary). I’ve had several beneficiaries ask me when the Will is going to be read and I let them down gently. (They’re all pourover wills and it wouldn’t be very interesting).

          Only show I’ve seen depict being a trustee accurately is Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

    2. Prospect Gone Bad*

      My mom settled two estates for older relatives and kept having to go on long day trips to go sign things at the lawyers. So maybe people are confusing these sort of office visits with “reading the will?”

    3. Dovasary Balitang*

      So what does happen when it’s time for assets etc. to be distributed as per a will? I’m super curious.

      1. Valkyrie*

        It depends on the specific circumstances. We do a lot of Trust Administration and in this case, we meet with the Successor Trustee, review the trust and then send out paper notices to the beneficiaries and heirs-at-law. The notices often contain a copy of the trust. Then there’s a 120-day waiting period (I call this the “Speak now or forever hold your peace” time).

        Everyone is still informed, it’s just not a big weird meeting with everyone.

        If it’s probate, that goes through the courts and is a bit different. In this case a relative applies to be appointed by the court, then there are public notices in the news papers and stuff.

        Sometimes you have to do heir searches, which I think is the most interesting part.

      2. Jonquil*

        The appointed executor is responsible for ensuring the estate is distributed according to the deceased’s stated wishes. So be careful who you choose for that task.

      1. Valkyrie*

        I think you could include that as a “precatory statement”, which is like saying “I’d really like it if everyone wore ascots during the administration” but it isn’t a mandatory obligation.

        I suppose you could set aside a portion of your estate to provide ascots and smoking jackets for your heirs…

  36. Helvetica*

    My field – foreign service – is usually portrayed through diplomats committing crimes and getting away with them due to “diplomatic immunity”, and this being a big nuisance. In real life, it is not nearly as straightforward as it is portrayed.
    Or that all we do is have cocktail parties. Sure, receptions exist but most of our work is…talking. So much talking and report writing.
    Or that we are all spies and incredible action heroes at that.

    1. Liquidus*

      Homeland, 24, the Brave. None of these show anyone spending two workdays on mandatory computer based training and a third workday submitting receipts from recent travel.

    2. Snow Globe*

      I always wondered about all those cocktail parties. How are spies supposed to exchange information if they can’t get dressed up and go to a party at the embassy?

    3. Down with TNR*

      Just waving at a fellow diplomat. Also, I object to your username. Obviously, it should be Calibri now.

      1. Shiny*

        At the Embassy I work at, claiming “diplomatic immunity” will get you fired and sent home in disgrace so fast you might prefer a stint in a foreign cell.

      2. CivilServant*

        I’m not alone!! (I know it says CivilServant, but yes, FS.)

        Also, don’t get me started on media where we are:

        1) the traitor (Captain America—love that movie, but that stings)

        2) hopelessly naive kumbaya singing dunderheads (book 2 of Honor Harrington comes to mind)

        3) uncaring bureaucrats (most shows about Americans in trouble)

        1. annoyed diplomat*

          What do we want? Incremental progress towards goals that promote our shared values!
          When do we want it? Before the next summit, when we have to have a deliverable, but certainly not within the framework of a 30-minute network drama!

      3. Helvetica*

        Ah, I don’t work for the US foreign service ;) many people do use Calibri but I actually prefer Arial (controversial!)

  37. Roscoe da Cat*

    I have worked in the US government in cybersecurity for years. Totally not realistic portrayal.

    I do understand – having scenes of people from different agencies discussing the pros and cons of strategies is hard to make interesting.

    1. Onward*

      You mean you don’t frantically type on a computer until you hear a little beep, then dramatically say “We’re in”?

      1. TechWorker*

        Loooool yes, plus having a dark screen with green text because what else would a TRUE hacker do, and a monitor spewing out hundreds of lines a second…

        1. Roscoe da Cat*

          Although we did once have a CIO talking to us and when he left, one of the staff looked up and said “Hey, they blocked our address space in their firewall.”

  38. Catwhisperer*

    I’m in tech and though I haven’t personally watched it, I’ve heard that Silicon Valley was very accurate. Not sure if that’s still true in today’s climate, though, in which tech ceos have ripped off their masks to reveal the true villains inside, Scooby Doo-style.

    1. Roland*

      Software engineer and yes, most shows are hilariously wrong but friends have said that one was more realistic, for a certain kind of environment anyway. I never watched more than a few minutes because I found the characters insufferable.

      1. Catwhisperer*

        This is also why I’ve never watched it. I don’t want to watch the same personalities I get annoyed with on a daily basis on my TV.

      2. Prospect Gone Bad*

        The huge caveat is that while it may be accurate for Silicon Valley, it aint accurate for the rest of the country. These portrayals and a lot of articles and comment threads I see are grossly underestimating the skill and experience levels needed to hit career milestones.

        I keep seeing “I made $200K by 30 and only do 3 hours of work a day” posts all over the internet but at every company I’ve been at – and some have been large and are indeed the standard for the market outside of Silicon Valley – it’s more like, you may hit $140k or $150K by 35 or 38.

        I’m noticing an undertone of high earners posting their salaries to humble brag, not realizing they’re misleading younger people into thinking they can realistically get those amounts without getting a boat load more experience or moving to Silicon Valley. It’s often posted under the guise of “just want to help folks who are underpaid” when it’s really “just want to brag about my salary!”

        1. Catwhisperer*

          Agreed, though in many places even $140k is double what you can expect. I started out in tech at a FAANG company in Austin and then transitioned to Dublin. While I love Dublin, I had to take a 20% pay cut with the same company at the same level when I moved. Granted, the cost of living in both Austin and Dublin is lower than the Bay, but not that much lower.

          1. Prospect Gone Bad*

            “Agreed, though in many places even $140k is double what you can expect”

            I totally agree! I just didn’t want to start with that because I’ve gotten barrages of comments from highly paid FAANG folk on other forums who were borderline insulting with some of their comments, making it sound like we all have personal failings for not making Silicon Valley salaries, or making it sound completely normal for 25 year olds to earn six figures even though all statistics and surveys show these people to be outliers. It drives me absolutely bonkers but I don’t feel like arguing with people today!

            1. Catwhisperer*

              Well if it helps I’ve worked in 2 FAANG companies now and am nowhere near $140k. I also had a career prior to tech so I feel like I have a more realistic understanding of how the world works than folks who went directly from school to FAANG jobs. It’s unfortunate how many people in the industry fail to see their own privilege.

        2. Tau*

          I’ve spent my career in tech in Europe (UK and Germany) and I assume the Silicon Valley stuff is not super likely to reflect my life, either in reality or in fiction.

          And yeah, I make probably half what someone with my background would in Silicon Valley, but I’ll take the lower salary in return for work-life balance and a better culture.

          1. Catwhisperer*

            This is exactly why I moved to Europe – I’d rather be happy than make money. The stronger employment laws are also a big plus.

        3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          It made sense pre-Covid. Older son got a job there out of college and his starting pay was higher than mine at the time as a senior level dev. But he had to relocate there for his work and his rent for a dilapidated 1-bedroom apartment was 2x the size of my monthly mortgage payment for a 3-bedroom ranch. And it was a great deal too – he had to move there and live in a long-term-stay hotel and do nothing but apartment hunt all day for a week to find and secure an apartment for a price that low. And he had to be really close to the office, like within 6-7 miles, because apparently in the Valley at that time (mid-2010s), a six-mile distance translated to a 30-minute work commute. Not sure what the pay and the living situation are now – he quit and moved back within a couple of years.

          My work peers are just starting to get to the 140 range now and most of us are far from 35 or 38. I made less than half of that at 35-38. Although when I recently shared that with a family member, they whipped out an inflation calculator and ran my long-ago pay through it and the results frankly shocked me. Apparently, by today’s standards, I was rolling in cash and didn’t know it.

          1. Catwhisperer*

            Last time I was there was 2019 and the commute from SF to Silicon Valley was at least two hours each way. I heard the commute got better during and after COVID. With the rise in popularity of remote work, a lot of transplants apparently left the Bay.

            I’m 34 and making around what my mother made in her 40s, though I also whipped out an inflation calculator recently to compare and similarly shocked. Makes me wonder why the US is still arguing about raising the minimum wage.

            1. Cedrus Libani*

              The geography of the Bay Area is brutal for commuting. There’s a literal bay in the middle of it, and it’s surrounded by mountains, leaving only a narrow habitable strip around the bay’s shores where everyone wants to live.

              Yes, salaries are high here, but they have to be. You’re paying a king’s ransom for not just your own rent/mortgage, but everyone else’s – any goods or services have to go up in price to cover the costs of living here.

    2. EMP*

      I’ve seen a little bit of it and the “gormless white boys failing up” did ring a bit too true to life…

    3. Maeve*

      I’m a data engineer. Silicon Valley is pretty accurate but the lack of female representation in the tech roles is annoying. There are more of us than are shown on TV and in films and it just cements the stereotype that it’s not a space where women belong.

      1. talos*

        I used to work in tech in the Midwest, and I seriously could go a couple weeks without having any work interactions with anyone who wasn’t a white man (I am also a white man).

        Not Great

      2. AnonForThis*

        That series came out while I was working for a large silicon-valley-based company. I watched a few episodes, but not seeing any women in software engineering really turned me off it. We exist!

      3. Keyboard Cowboy*

        In some areas, sure. But I’m one of 2-3 women in my entire open source project, the only on my small team and one of 2-3 in my parent team, and half of the women engineers on my main day-to-day project. :(

      4. Catwhisperer*

        This is a good callout. If we’re not represented, how are young girls supposed to see themselves in the industry in the future? Whenever this topic comes up I always think about how Mae Jemison, the first black woman to travel in space, was inspired by Nichelle Nicholes/Lieutenant Uhura in Star Trek. I don’t care if TV is fictional, we need the representation to portray the reality of our presence and help build the future.

      5. Ellie*

        I think women in tech tend to stick together though – there are teams and teams of all males where I work, but then you’ll get a team with 3 or 4 women on it together. Its probably related to hiring bias, but its hard to prove.

        I find depictions of hacking in TV and movies hilarious. They use cool special effects, like electricity making its way along cables, to try to inject a bit of fun into what’s essentially sitting at a computer for 8-10 hours straight, running various command line apps.

        Although they’re scientists, I think the Big Bang Theory did pretty well. That scene where they have to tell NASA that the product Sheldon said they could deliver in 2 months is going to take 2 years is brilliant.

        1. Yecats*

          Another software engineer here! I don’t know what you’re talking about, I often sit in dark rooms with six monitors full of neon green text while wires crackle alarmingly around me! /s ;)

    4. Cedrus Libani*

      I’ve worked in and around Silicon Valley startups…and from what I’ve seen of the show, it does capture the flavor. (I’m in biotech, but I have friends in tech-tech.)

      There are some shows / media that do a good job capturing what it feels like to be doing the thing, even at the expense of literal realism. When it’s your life, you’re deeply engaged – it’s really happening, and it’s really on you to make things work. An impartial observer might find the same events to be only slightly more interesting than watching paint dry. In order to capture the intensity of the real-life feeling, they crank up the intensity of events until it’s a surrealistic version of what actually goes on. I can vouch for PhD Comics; my MD friends vouch for Scrubs; my friends on the hot dog detector circuit vouch for Silicon Valley. Yes, in real life, that snappy one-liner would have in fact been hours of boring meetings. But the one-liner is how it felt; you just had to be there.

    5. K W*

      I think the problem with Silicon Valley is that its only focused on startup culture. In reality, lots of very different companies need programmers and devs. I’m a web developer for a University, and my partner works for an insurance company. Both of which have good work-life balance and pay. Neither of which are ever trying to convince anyone that their products will change the world, or cause “disruption”, or any of the other hacky buzzword. We work in departments that are part of wider organisations. I work with many different faculties with many different needs. I have to communicate in a non-jargony, normal way.
      My guess is they focus on startups because of their tendencies towards weird, often toxic work cultures. My partner has worked for exactly one, and, like many in tech, left it for saner hours and a better culture.
      No one would ever want to watch an actual programmer work. We type a bit, click something go “hmmm… that didn’t work” then type some more, occasionally messaging a coworker for help.

  39. RandomLawyer*

    Lawyer here. Most legal dramas don’t get it right at all, particularly in timing. Most lawsuits last years and almost none go to trial. They are not resolved as quickly as TV portrays. But shout out to Law & Order, which used the correct law and precedents in all their cases, both statutes and cases.

    1. Ainsley Hayes*

      And the ability of TV lawyers to get an IMMEDIATE hearing with a judge and an IMMEDIATE decision…yeah, not so much!

      1. RandomLawyer*

        Fun fact: Still waiting on a decision on a motion that I filed 14 months ago and argued 8 months ago.

        1. QED*

          I am still waiting on a decision in a case where all the papers were filed almost 2 years ago. State court–what can you do?

      2. Mike*

        I dunno, I have a certain judge in a certain rural county in my state who was all too happy to deny my motion from the bench, immediately and without explanation. He asked Opposing Counsel to send a proposed order, which he did, also with no explanation in it (obviously)!

      1. Clisby*

        He just won’t admit he doesn’t know how to extract a spectacular courtroom confession a la Perry Mason!

        1. My Cabbages!*

          I love reading Perry Mason books but… I know nothing about law and even I know how quickly he’d be disbarred.

    2. EPLawyer*

      OMG, and you do not do depositions in the middle of a trial just because you learned something new.

      And so many other things that would get real life lawyers disbarred in a heart beat.

      1. Clisby*

        Also, I doubt too many defense lawyers adopt the Matlock principle of refusing to defend guilty people. Like, dude, I think maybe you’re confused about the actual job of a defense attorney.

        1. Personal Best in Consecutive Days Lived*

          Right!? I am not a lawyer, but if anyone needs a lawyer it’s people who have committed crimes…

    3. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      They are so far off that even in areas that I don’t practice I can spot the absurdities.

    4. NotAnotherManager!*

      Not a lawyer but used to manage paralegals. Literally told them ALL during the interview, “This is not Law & Order. Law is procedural and can be quite boring at least 75% of the time. You’re more likely to be calling the clerk of the court about local filing rules than in an actual court room. You will not touch a Supreme Court brief until you have worked with a lot of much more mundane proceedings.”

    5. Odditor*

      I studied to be a paralegal for a while and I still watch a lot of Legal Eagle to this day. I love his reactions when he does movie/show reviews and one of the attorneys walks toward the jury. If he’s not already selling merch that says “YOU WILL BE TACKLED BY THE BAILIFF,” he should. The things that a lot of stories get wrong– putting the oral arguments out of order, skipping all the behind-the-scenes motions, bringing in surprise last-minute witnesses– don’t bother me so much these days, but I really do love the ones that get it right.

    6. Manders*

      I was on a jury last year for a murder trial. Crime happened in 1993. Defendant was charged in 2009, I believe. And it finally saw the inside of the courtroom in 2022. SMH.

    7. I AM a Lawyer*

      I’m an education lawyer and my job is extremely boring. I get to work on cool issues, such as the first amendment’s application to schools, but I mostly just sit in front of a computer and write and answer emails.

      Any show where there is litigation, I’m always yelling, “that evidence would never get in!” or “you could absolutely not say that in a trial without an immediate mistrial!” But, real trials are not exciting enough to portray.

    8. Kate*

      I’m a paralegal, and I’ve never seen my area of law (immigration) represented on TV. (I haven’t watched 90-Day Fiancée, though, which some of my coworkers enjoy.) I spend my day drafting government forms, reviewing and assembling client documents, doing legal research, and communicating with clients. My clients are all over the world, and I keep a running tally of countries where my clients have come from. (I’ve got about 50% covered, I believe.) Since I specialize in family and green card matters, I get to help bring families together which is amazing.

      I really enjoyed how the paralegal was portrayed on She-Hulk. When She-Hulk is being recruited to a new firm, she is insistent that her paralegal comes with her. The managing partner of the new firm says he doesn’t care one way or the other. (My firm allows established attorneys to bring their paralegals with them when they join, and the attorney who I came in with calls me her second brain. But it’s also common for support staff to be undervalued. I’m not sure some attorneys realize how much they rely on their assistants, and unfortunately our pay can reflect that.) I also enjoyed how, when one case was at a standstill with about a dozen unhappy ex-spouses shouting in a conference room, the paralegal was like, “I got this!” And sure enough, she sits down and actually listens to what everyone wants and comes up with a solution that everyone agrees with. I sometimes have to prepare affidavits for a client, and that can involve meeting with them for hours, listening to their story, and figuring out what is relevant to the point we are trying to make. It can be intense, but is so rewarding.

  40. The Dude Abides*

    I’m an accountant who currently works in state gov’t in a managerial role.

    The accountant side, not even close.

    The governmental side…the tropes about red tape are fairly true in a general sense.

    1. spockface*

      I’m in the same field (though not really a managerial role in that I don’t have any direct reports or final sign-off authority on our big projects) and my spouse has told me that from my work stories, she gets the impression “Control” (government job gothic, the video game) is pretty accurate. I can’t say she’s wrong.

    2. Here for the Insurance*

      I’m a lawyer in state govt. in a managerial role, and I agree on the red tape tropes.

      I do take exception to the humorless, incompetent, don’t give a rat’s ass about you bureaucrat trope, though. Most everyone I work with are well-educated, professional, dedicated public servants. There’s definitely shades of The Office dysfunction, but no worse than any private business.

  41. ImprobableSpork*

    Silicon Valley is often described as a work of fiction. It isn’t – only the names have been changed to protect the guilty.

    1. Lavender*

      I know next to nothing about working for tech startups, but I grew up not far from the real Silicon Valley and I know a lot of actual people who remind me of characters on that show.

      1. Wendy Darling*

        My partner and I were both working in big tech when Silicon Valley was on the air (now I work in much smaller tech and it’s less wild) and between the two of us could tell you the specific incidents that were being parodied most of the time. The more outrageous it seemed the more likely it was to be true (Sean Parker’s wedding alone…).

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Not in the Valley, but I work in the field and had online friends and family members who worked in the Valley, and I found the show quite accurate.

    2. AnonForThis*

      I disagree. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how a general-purpose data compression algorithm like Pied Piper would work, and I don’t think it’s possible.

      The people, on the other hand…