Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Secretaries on TV and in the Movies: Realistic or Stereotyped?

People have some strange ideas of what secretaries (i.e admin assistants) are like.  Where do their ideas come from?  Let’s take a look at TV and movies and see if there are any realistic portrayals of admins in the media.

Loni Anderson (WKRP in Cincinnati):  Played by Jennifer Marlowe
What do you remember about her?  She was blonde and sexy and wore low cut tops and dresses that barely concealed her big bust.  But did you ever notice that she was very good at her job?  She was always on top of whatever needed to be done.  She actually pretty much ruled the office.  Without her the whole place would have fallen apart.  So she’s a little bit of both.
Looks:  STEREOTYPED
Performance:  REALISTIC

Jane Hathaway (Beverly Hillbillies):   Played by Nancy Culp
Jane Hathaway was kind of the other end of the scale.  Serious looking, mousy, a little strange.  But she did her job and she did it well.  She was the epitome of organization.  She had the personality of a piece of plywood though.  I’d have to say that she was kind of stereotyped because no one really is that efficient.
STEREOTYPED

Janine Melnitz (Ghostbusters): Played by Annie Potts
I think this is a great representation of an admin.  Janine had her own personality and she got things done.  She was efficient but not to the point that she seemed like some kind of machine.  She dealt well with customers but didn’t treat them like numbers.  She dressed professionally but she wasn’t a nun.
REALISTIC

Tess McGill (Working Girl): Played by Melanie Griffith
I think this is one of my favorite representations of an admin.  Tess was a hard working girl who really just wanted a chance to show the company what she could do. She took matters into her own hands when her boss (who was trying to steal her ideas!) got sick and in the end they saw Tess as being a valuable part of the team and rewarded her.  Her dress was professional and she had a good attitude and she knew what had to be done.  The only part of Tess’s behavior that I would caution admins NOT to replicate would be her messing around with the hot guy in the company!
REALISTIC

Who is your favorite admin in the media?

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