When TV Shows Improve Work Ethic

Being curious about some stats on how people approach TV shows, I noticed a pattern forming each and every time. Going over the numbers, which I decide to skip now since I don’t want to bore you to death, it shows that a certain demographic reacts quite predictably whenever one specific topic is being brought up.

Care to guess what? One hint though, it’s not drama, nor sex, nor good old car chases.

Let me cut you the suspense here.

It’s work ethic. Yep, all awkwardness aside, it seems as though people crave discipline. The devil-may-care attitude might look a certain amount of cool and all, but when it comes to long story arcs people tend to connect with hard-working, work-driven protagonists.

This might run counter to some conventional wisdom about what television is all about, but bear with the list for a while and tell me if I’m being wrong.

Breaking Bad

breaking bad work ethic
From all the people who don’t live under a rock, 99.9% watched this show. The rest probably miss-circled the “live-under-a-rock” part. Jokes aside now, but regardless of whether or not you watched this show, chances are you’ve heard about it.

For the less dogmatic ones, Walter’s character is the perfect protagonist. He is hard working, provides for his family, passionate about what he does… Only except, well, he runs a drug empire.

But you see how people tend to swipe this fact under the carpet, and focus on the first part?

The thing is that in your mind’s eye, work-ethic and striving for success is regarded as such high of a quality that everything else has the tendency to fall second.

You think I jest? Well take a look at the ratings, while at the same time trying to explain what this TV show is about other than an average Joe building a drug empire.

So where is the work-ethic part, you ask?

First – and this might seem an obvious one – everything that they’ve build was not because they were simply happy-go-lucky while driving an RV around the desert, but because they actually applied themselves. Even Jessie.

The way in which his character is evolving, shows even more our need for discipline. If we had the numbers of the focus group behind his character, we probably would have seen acceptance growing at a rapid clip.

The whole show is an enormous to-do list if you think about it. Walter has the kind of smarts that keeps him up at night, and all he ever does is either work, or think about it. And seeing such behavior, albeit in a fictional setting, awakes the creative, hard-working part of your persona.

The Wire

the wire

Now this was a big surprise for many. Here, the devil-may-care attitude of the Baltimore’s finest really brought the antagonists into perspective, and made connecting with them quite easier.

Second verse same as the first here – they were building a drug empire (using this for the second time in this article, Google is probably giving me the eye).

But what fascinates is that even low level pawn-like members of the crew applied themselves day in and day out. People not only sympathized with Barksdale’s story, but some were probably rooting for the slingers to get the best out of the Baltimore’s police force.

The newsroom

the newsroom

You asked for work driven characters? Well, let us then build a setting where there is nothing but such.

Despite there being some drama that makes you feel as though this show is at odds with quality TV, it is still enjoyable watching how they work on projects like there is no tomorrow.

If this doesn’t instill some work drive within you, then I really don’t know what will. A fancy startups-might-envy office setting, and shifts stretching into odd hours, this show will probably inspire you to sit down and write the next great American novel. Or whatever equivalent, that is.

House of cards

house of cards

For some it might just be Kevin Spacy acting all cool and badassery, but most will connect with how he builds his grand scheme, applying work ethic like you would expect only from those with above-the-ceiling paychecks.

His wife too; If there is a picture right next to “career chasing couples” in the dictionary, then it’s these two together holding hands (since hugging might just be too politically incorrect).

This show, from start to finish, is a series of projects unraveling one after another, all of which requiring Zen-like attention. The way Frank operates, fictional or not, will probably inspire you to raise your standards.

If you have profound respect for building a family life over building a career, this show will reinforce the second, while probably robbing you off the former.

Spin City

Spin city work ethic

Call me old-fashioned, but I kind of like 90’s Manhattan-career-driven protagonists. And Mike Flaherty is western’s role model of choice here. Best at what he does and by some chance this happens to be a job position that requires ludicrous work ethic, his lifestyle quickly becomes quite appealing.

Dealing with deadlines, multitasking with projects from which man’s hair goes white, he is a modern day superhero.

This is a sit-com (and a damn good one), I know, but whenever inspired individuals come in contact with examples of hard work, albeit these being fictional, and sometimes out of context, most tend to be sold on the idea of having to have good work ethic (I know I do).

As this half-baked argument of mine clearly shows, we tend to look up to situations where hard work is being rewarded, while at the same time feel a peculiar connection, and moreover profound respect for stories where this is the case.

We have had this career-driven mantra drilled into our scull since before we knew better, and it seems as though this accounts for how well we receive and moreover react on stories where work ethic is being praised.

CSI, Grey’s anatomy, Suits, and multitudes of others… Whenever a TV show is ready to depict certain people doing their job well, it gets an overall good reception.

And I know how counterintuitive watching TV shows and being work driven sounds, but have you watched something recently that instilled the urge to up the ante and do some great work? The comment section is right below…

What's your opinion?

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