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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Sitcom Unemployment Line

Welcome to another edition of "Tube Talk Thursday", and in this edition of the blog, I thought that we would take a look at the world of television sitcoms.

And, well, in today's blog entry, I'll be talking about several different sitcom characters all with a common theme.

You all know that I have a tendency to do these kinds of blog entries once in a while.  Talking about a bunch of different shows instead of just one.  The reason why I like doing these entries is because I have the opportunity to compare and/or contrast the way that characters from different sitcoms would handle the same situations.  Would they crash and burn, or would they press through the pain to strive towards better opportunities?

Well, in today's blog entry, we will be talking about a situation that many sitcom characters have had to face over the course of their whole lives.  And, sadly in the real world, so many people have experienced this situation first hand.  In fact, I know quite a few people who are dealing with this scenario currently, and I can't imagine it being very easy on them at all.

The situation is the loss of a job.

It's a sad fact of life these days, but job security isn't what it used to be.  Five decades ago, people would find a job and in all likelihood stay in the job until they turn 55, 65, 68, or whatever age retirement is.  These days, job security seems to be more unstable than ever before.  Unless you happen to be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company or run your own successful business, I can't say that anyone in the world can ever say that their job is 100% secure.  A slow year in sales could mean chain-wide layoffs.  Bad business decisions can destroy a company from the inside out.  And, accounting fraud can completely bankrupt and shut down a whole business.  Note:  See Enron Scandal of 2001 for more information.

Do I feel secure in my own job?  In some ways yes, in other ways no.  In fact, lately I've been asking myself some questions, and the main one that flies through my mind is "if I were to lose my job tomorrow, would I have a plan to start all over again"?

Well, to be honest, if you had asked me this question five years ago, I would have no plans made at all.  But if I were to lose my job tomorrow, I think that I would be okay.  If anything, it would give me even more motivation to pursue my dreams.  I could take some time off and write a lot (I could probably write a book in eight weeks if I used the eight hours a shift I normally work to do nothing but write), or I could also check into other job opportunities.  I've built up a lot of things that I can now add to my resume that weren't there a decade ago.  I think if it came down to it, I would be a little bit lost if my job was terminated, but I would find a way out of it.

And, that's what I want to talk about in today's blog.  I'll be talking about people (albeit fictional ones) who have lost their jobs on television sitcoms, and the steps they took to survive a devastating blow.  I don't exactly know how this would go when I began writing this.  I guess my hope was that people could look at these situations that sitcom characters have experienced and realize that in some cases, the loss of a job wasn't necessarily the end of the line.  And maybe this is still what I intended to do...I don't know.

Regardless, let's have a look at some of the people who lost their jobs on their shows, but somehow found a way to come out ahead.

HARRIETTE WINSLOW - Perfect Strangers/Family Matters

No, that wasn't a typo.  The character of Harriette Winslow (played by JoMarie Payton) actually originated on the Miller-Boyett television sitcom "Perfect Strangers", and for a couple of seasons, she worked as an elevator operator at the Chicago Chronicle newspaper offices.  She frequently interacted with Larry Appleton and Balki Bartokomous and her character proved to be quite popular on the show.  She was so popular that when Miller-Boyett was creating another sitcom in 1989, they decided to spin Harriette off of "Perfect Strangers" and made her one of the stars of "Family Matters", which focused on the life of Harriette, her husband Carl, and her three children. 

And, wouldn't you know it?  On the second episode of "Family Matters", Harriette went to her bosses at the Chronicle for a raise, where she was promptly shown the door.  She was fired from her job, and thus explained why she would not return to "Perfect Strangers" for the rest of that series' run.  Naturally, Harriette was devastated, and Carl tried his best to cheer Harriette up.  But the only way that Harriette could be cheered up was if she landed another job, and she a security officer for the very building that she was fired from!  How's that for going full circle?

Of course, the possibilities of getting let go from one job only to get a better job in the same exact workplace is EXTREMELY RARE.  So, let's continue with this discussion by talking about a pair of characters who actually made magic happen by QUITTING their jobs.


Okay, so throughout the show's eight year run, admittedly Jesse and Joey have had more jobs than Barbie...or so it seemed.  We all know that Jesse's big dream was to become the next big rock star, and we all know that Joey wanted to become a stand-up genius.  And, well...neither dream worked out (though Jesse did have that #1 hit in Japan).

But in between the gigs and the concerts, Jesse and Joey had day jobs that they worked to help pay the bills (well, I'm assuming they paid Danny's bills, since you know they never left the house during the show's run).  And, in the show's second season, Jesse and Joey teamed up to work in the advertising business.  With Jesse's musical talents, and Joey's natural ability to impersonate several celebrities and cartoon characters, the two were very successful for two seasons.  Well, that is until a woman who wanted the duo to promote a new line of men's fragrances came into their lives and changed everything about their campaign.  Certainly everyone has been in this situation before, you know?  Having something completely set up one way only for someone higher up than you completely changing it to their liking.  Frustrating, but there's not very much that you can do about it...

...well, unless you walk off the job like Jesse and Joey did.  The minute that Jesse learned that he would be promoted as a sex object, he and Joey had enough.  But was that the end of their careers as they knew it?  Hardly.

Joey ended up hosting a children's show for a year, and Jesse eventually bought The Smash Club.  And both hosted a radio program entitled "Rush Hour Renegades" which was a hit...which was surprising, given that it seemed as though nothing ever went right on that show!  But still, it's nice to know that these two men always strived for what they wanted out of a career...well, most of the time, anyway.

Let's see.  Who else can I feature?


I know some people might not see Roseanne Conner as that good of a role model.  She's loud, she's abrasive, she's stubborn, and she is not above using sarcasm and bluntness to get her points across.  But even though she doesn't always show it (and even though some people in the fictional community of Lanford are probably scared to death of her), she does have an insanely good heart and truly does want the best for herself, her husband, and their three children (even though Becky and Darlene probably have caused her more reasons to drink than anything).  And part of that motivation for Roseanne to keep things together was not to reject any job that came her way.  Roseanne would try almost anything once.  Though some jobs she quit, other job opportunities came after she was laid off, or fired, or had her job taken away because the business closed.  Here's just a sampling of the jobs she worked.

- Factory worker at Wellman Plastics
- Fast food server at a chicken restaurant
- Waitress at a department store cafe
- Hair Sweeper at a Salon
- Co-Owner of the Lanford Lunch Box

Of course, there were some heartbreaking moments for Roseanne along the way.  Did you know that when she quit Wellman Plastics, several others followed her after she staged a walk-out due to her boss being an egotistical control freak?  And, Roseanne almost landed a great job at a factory but had it cruelly taken away after the manager of the factory found out that she was computer illiterate?  Imagine Roseanne's sadness when a party was thrown in her honour with everybody believing that she had the job.  You think that it would have been mortifying for Roseanne.  Well, in a way it was...but in a way, it wasn't...

...because all of those other women that walked off the job that day ended up getting brand new opportunities that made them healthier, happier, and much better prepared in a financial sense...all because Roseanne had the guts to stand up for herself.  They learned to do the same, and they ended up doing very well.  And, by the end of the series, Roseanne herself came to some conclusions herself...even if the ninth season was kind of weird.

Anyway, those are just three examples right there from sitcom land.  Do you have any more to add?

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