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TGIF: How the New TV Season “Works”

As a quasi-scientific exercise, I set out to watch some new fall shows purely to see how they treat “work.” Some, like the new comedy “Free Agents,” are all about the workplace, set in an office with PR industry lingo and even a pivotal PowerPoint presentation featured in the very first episode.

Others, like “How I Met your Mother,” allude to work, even featuring an architect character’s cover story in New York Magazine. But there was nary a drafting table in sight.

The new show “Two Broke Girls” gives two striving 20-something waitresses a real workplace and even some clever ambition. Poor Christina Applegate (“Up All Night”) is terribly overworked at her glamorous job producing an “Oprah”-like talk show.

Here is what I would like to see on a TV show about work in the real world.

Real collaboration – How co-workers slice and dice big projects to get everything done on a deadline. It isn’t always pretty! It could have great dramatic tension and comedy worthy of the famous Joan Cusack “Broadcast News” scene.

Making up for a mistake – Choosing the right approach to fix a fiasco sometimes requires diplomacy and the foresight of a champion chess player. I always remember something a boss once told me vis-à-vis apologies: do it fast, do it once and don’t overdo it. Perhaps whoever takes over for Michael (Steve Carell) on “The Office” will have some lessons to impart here!

Keeping a staff motivated – Sometimes there’s a low period in an office and employees feel it from the top down. You have to try a combination of tactics from small rewards (we have “Wine Wednesdays”) to more tangible benefits – the meaningful promotion or new “showier” responsibilities. Amy Poehler’s character in “Parks & Recreation” is a great office cheerleader who probably has some motivating tricks up her sleeve this season.

Bringing innovation into the office – For the “girls” on new shows “Pan Am” and “The Playboy Club” innovation may just mean elimination of girdles and gartered stockings, but improving your workplace by turning co-workers onto a helpful new website, timesaving product or service or social media platform is gratifying and helps the bottom line.

Got any TV scenarios you’d like to see? Share them here.

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