If a person grew up thinking that their real life on the job would be exactly the way it is for their favourite characters on television, they’d be pretty disappointed on their first day of work.

And apparently this can happen for some. A new report from the UK based Education and Employers Taskforce says that thousands of children are getting their career advice and information from television shows.

Nick Chambers, director of the taskforce, told the Evening Standard, “Programs including Call the Midwife and CSI: Miami have inspired interest in midwifery and forensic science. This is positive, but just seeing someone on TV doesn’t help you find out how to actually get that job. For many of these young people a lot of their knowledge is influenced by the television and social media. People see roles on TV – doctors or brainy scientists – and think that’s what science is all about.”

Apparently the Canadian Government is developing a video game to give kids career advice.

Here at Workopolis, we like to do our part as well. So in the interest of helping out all the kids who might think that TV characters at their jobs are an accurate depiction of work, we decided to take a look at how television gets it wrong. I surveyed my coworkers for their favourite fallacies, and some of them (Hello, Melissa) got quite heated about it.

The top ways that TV misrepresents having a job

    At your TV job, you can show up to work at any time of the day, leave work whenever you feel like it for any reason, and you will always be free to meet your friends for long coffee shop conversations about personal matters in the middle of any work day.

    If your TV job is anything like Mad Men, you will be allowed (if not encouraged) to walk around the office smoking, drinking whisky, and slapping secretaries on the behind. [Note: The Workopolis lawyers have obliged me to strongly point out: please do not try any of those things at work in real life.]

    Of course with your TV job, no matter what kind of job you happen to have, you’ll always be able to pay rent in the apartment and city neighbourhood of your choosing, wear whatever fashions you desire, and of course, go out every night. Sure, tips from serving coffee can pay for a closet full of designer labels in a brick-walled downtown loft and endless nights out.

    Don’t worry, if you do hit the bars every night, it’s okay to fall asleep on your desk. Your coworkers will find that endearing. Although they may wake you by slamming something heavy down beside your head. Because pranks are funny.

    Yes, pulling pranks on your boss and or coworkers will make you popular and respected. People just love hijinks at work. There’s no business like monkey business.

    Similarly, you can zing employees and bosses with snappy, clever, sarcastic remarks, and they will all appreciate your sharp sense of humour and not get offended at all. Because co-workers don’t have feelings.

    Everyone in your TV world job will look like a supermodel, except of course for that one loud-mouth, back-talking slacker that every job has whose completely inappropriate work fashion is somehow tolerated by management.

    And speaking of CSI, being in law enforcement is glamorous, with science fiction quality, futuristic, state of the art equipment that allows you to always solve the crime and get the satisfaction of a job well done.

    Also, someone is murdered every week in every city, and there are serial killers everywhere. And for some reason, Miami detectives get a bizarre amount of plastic surgery. (Thanks, Elizabeth.)

    Oh, and if someone ever tells you that they have one only day left until retirement, don’t stand too close to them. Something bad is going to happen to them that very day, and they’ll probably die.

This isn’t to say that work is all doom and gloom and populated by trolls. My coworkers have great senses of humor. We have banter and adventures, challenges and social lives, and we genuinely enjoy each others’ company and our jobs. But we also spend most of our time at our desks, actually working. Which I suppose would make for pretty boring television watching.

How about you? What the biggest workplace falsehoods that you’ve seen on TV? Please share!


Peter Harris
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