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Series / Working (1997)

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An American sitcom that starred Fred Savage as a college graduate who works in a multinational business where he meets a group of bizarre co-workers.

The show also starred Maurice Godin, Yvette Freeman, Arden Myrin, Todd Waring, Dana Gould, Steve Hytner, and Debi Mazar.

It aired for two season, from 1997 to 1999 on NBC.


Tropes for the series:

  • Actor Allusion: At a bar, Matt meets a woman played by Danica McKellar. He quickly likens her to a girl he grew up with.
  • Christmas Episode: "Medieval Christmas" in Season 1 and "The Christmas Party" in Season 2.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Delaney is constantly zinging Matt, Jimmy, and the rest of the office, as well as making wry observations about situations.
  • Everyone Has Standards: In the first episode, Matt gets the credit for a brilliant portfolio and told he's on the fast track to moving up the company ladder, but he learns the portfolio isn't his. Tim knows the truth, but he wants an increasingly guilty Matt on his team, so he offers him numerous perks (more money, an office, a sexy assistant, etc.). Subverted in that Matt succumbs to temptation and briefly tries out being a posh executive. Double subverted in that he feels disgusted with himself and can't go through with it, resolving to achieve success the legitimate way.
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  • Lampshade Hanging: For Season 2, Jimmy and Hal are replaced by Liz and Val. In the new characters' first appearance, Matt accidentally refers to them by their predecessors' names.
  • Noodle Incident: Delaney immediately sees through Christine's Sweet Polly Oliver disguise, saying he can spot her inherent feminine features, despite things like the fake beard. When Matt asks how that's possible, Delaney attributes it to a summer he spent in Sicily.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Downplayed with Tim. He's definitely not the sharpest tool in the shed, but he's more aware of things than he lets on (such as the first episode, where Matt is getting praised for a portfolio that actually belongs to someone else).
  • Obliquely Obfuscated Occupation: It is never mentioned what the corporation does.
  • Pair the Spares: Parodied in an episode, where after a ban on inter-office relationships is lifted, everyone quickly pairs off in order to release the sexual tension that had been building. The Butt-Monkey is too slow, and the only one left is an old lady.
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  • Peace & Love, Incorporated: The show centers around the employees of uber-conglomerate Upton/Webber. Each episode typically features a fake U/W commercial proudly touting its corporate beneficence and commitment to ethics- usually with regard to things like cloning, toxic waste cleanup, and weapons production.
  • Plagiarism in Fiction: In the second episode, with everyone worried about getting fired for lying on their resumes, Jimmy admits he wrote down that he was black. When Delaney asks what he was thinking, Jimmy says he was copying off the woman sitting next to him.
  • Pointy-Haired Boss: Zig-Zagged with Tim. He has a number of goofy quirks and other flaws, but he demonstrates moments of competence and awareness when Matt and others least suspect it. He can demonstrate a ruthless, underhanded approach to business just before being amazed by a dimmer on his lamp.
  • Shadow Archetype:
    • In the first episode, Tim remarks he was just as idealistic and eager as Matt when he started working ten years ago (although Tim adds he was pretty coked up at the time), but he quickly demonstrates the kind of sleazy and unethical practices that Matt can't bring himself to do.
    • Delaney often functions as the more cynical, snarky counterpart to Matt, having been worn down by the daily grind and having to deal with executives.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Parodied. Chris is one of many applicants for a newly opened position under the male chauvinist boss at the office. Chris prays on Tim Deale's good-old-boy tendencies and general machismo to land the job. Matt (along with the audience) soon discovers that Chris is really a woman in disguise: Christine. When Christine outs herself, in the sauna, accompanied by all the company's execs, she returns to the office looking quite sexy in a skirt-suit. Cue one of the male characters saying "That's Chris? He sure cleans up nice!"
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Chris Grant (short for Christine) shows up for an interview to join the office where is the show is set. The boss is a known philanderer and "good old boy", so Christine dresses and acts masculine to get on the boss's good side and score the job. Hilarity Ensues when her gender is revealed to Matt (but not to Tim), and then they all hang out in a sauna. Even more Hilarity Ensues after Chris is found out, gets fired, and the offices rises up against Beale's unfair hiring practices. In the next round of interviews, he's forced to consider females for the job. The woman he chooses to hire is actually Matt in drag.
  • Visual Pun: Taking a crowded elevator up to their floor, Delaney bemoans to Matt that they're nothing more than a bunch of clowns. When the elevator opens, everyone piles out as if the elevator were a clown car.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Matt insists that he can achieve success in the company by adhering to his principles. Tim finds this hilarious and looks forward to seeing how he handles himself.
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