Workaholics (2011–present, Comedy Central)
Workaholics is a jock-y buddy comedy series about some slacker/stoner bros who work for the same telemarketing company and live to cause juvenile mischief, shirk responsibility, and sloppily chase le ladies. It probably sounds questionable, I know! But the show’s brand of ridiculous, inappropriate humor is FUNNY AS EFF. Don’t get me wrong: I do not condone the behavior that Workaholics displays for our entertainment. Rather, I suggest living vicariously through its main characters: Adam, a perma-teen Chyah, dude! kind of dude; Blake, a bizarre long-haired puppy of a guy; and Anders (aka ’Ders), the relatively responsible one who makes sure they all come out of their shenanigans alive and with their jobs. For 30 minutes at a time, Workaholics lets me pretend I’m an immature dude without the consequences of actually being an immature dude or having one in my life. And when it’s over, I get back to reading literature or whatever. —Dylan
This drama, directed by Joanna Hogg, follows two artists trying to live together and work together on their art, their house, and their relationship. Watch it if you’re scared to grow up or become an artist. Will it make you feel better? Probably not. Will it make you feel a little more comfortable about growing up or becoming an artist? In a way, probably yes. Exhibition shows that it is OK for life, at any age, to be confusing, upsetting, and strange. Also: The female lead is Viv Albertine, a guitarist in the Slits, which is real-life proof of the cool changes that can happen over the course of a career. —Caitlin H.
Our City Dreams (2008)
A documentary about five artists: Swoon, Ghada Amer, Marina Abramović, Kiki Smith, and Nancy Spero. They work in different mediums, and are at different stages in their lives and careers, but they’ve all chosen to make New York City their home. This isn’t a movie about New York, though—it’s about creativity, hard work, process, desire, and living the life you want. Watching these women work, and seeing the ways they arrived at their chosen fields, is inspiring beyond belief. Our City Dreams has been streaming on Netflix for a while now, and I cannot keep track of how many times I’ve watched it. If I’m uninspired about life or work, it never fails to refresh my spirits or help me discover something new about myself. It makes me feel connected to these women, and all women everywhere who are hustling too do what they love to do and express what they need to express. —Laia
Mr. Mom (1983)
Written by John Hughes, this lighthearted look at gender stereotypes stars Michael Keaton as Jack, a man who loses his job during a recession. Jack’s wife, Caroline, once a stay-at-home mom, goes back to work to support the family while Jack bumbles his way through domestic duties like cooking, grocery shopping, and dealing with the explosive aftermath of their baby’s first can of chili. Keaton is effortlessly funny—there’s no shtick with him—which keeps the movie from being the over-the-top, slapstick-y mess that it could have easily been. I saw Mr. Mom for the first time in ninth grade, on one of those rare, lovely days when the teacher’s lesson plan was “Everybody watch this movie and then answer a couple of questions about it that will never be graded.” In keeping with the tradition of using Mr. Mom as an educational tool, my assignment for you is to soak up its warm, ’80s-family-comedy vibes and then decide if you agree with me that Michael Keaton, in this role, is hilarious and perfect. —Amber
CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story (2013, VH1)
VH1’s biopic of TLC, one of history’s most badass R&B groups, follows Chilli, T-Boz, and Left Eye through grueling rehearsals and into their hyper-accelerated rise to stardom, where the work only gets harder and more complicated. Watch it to see how three intelligent, talented women fought to get their money after being signed to an exploitative contract, navigated the art of collaboration, and got their professional motivation back after ending personal relationships with scrubs. Double-watch it for the KILLER ’90s hip-hop tomboy fashion TLC was known for. (They could wear crop tops like no one ever has, or ever will again.) —Caitlin D.
Beauty Shop (2005)
Queen Latifah stars as Gina, a widowed hairdresser, in this spinoff of Barbershop. She’s a star stylist, but her boss, the shady salon-owner Jorge (Kevin Bacon), treats her poorly. Gina gets fed up and decides to open her own shop. Take that, patriarchy! She faces obstacles (corrupt city officials, Jorge) but builds a successful salon with a staff of trusting and funny characters, including Alicia Silverstone as the shampoo girl. Like in Steel Magnolias, there’s something enchanting about watching a group of sharp-witted women trade advice and gossip. Beauty Shop is about trusting yourself, reaching for your goals, and never letting the Man get you down. —Marie
Better Off Ted (2009–2010, ABC)
In this supremely smart, satirical workplace sitcom, Ted is an honorable guy working for a comically evil, profit-grubbing corporation. The company, Veridian Dynamics, develops technologies such as weaponized pumpkins, cowless beef, and organic vegetables full of antidepressants. The show aired for just two seasons, which is a travesty, because the surreal jokes hit hard and with almost dizzying frequency (you can still see them all on Netflix Instant). There are also tons of career lessons in each episode. For example, if your workplace tries to cryonically freeze you, you should probably quit. —Amber
Shameless (2011–present, Showtime)
A lot of TV protagonists are trying to figure out what they’ll do with the rest of their lives, but Fiona Gallagher is trying to figure out what to do RIGHT NOW—how she’s going to pay this month’s bills and get all five of her siblings to school on time and keep her drunk dad away. I have six brothers and sisters, and the fierce loyalty the Gallagher siblings show for one another feels familiar, especially when they lie to protect each other. Shameless also focuses on a side of social services that doesn’t get a lot of attention: At one point, Fiona tells Child Protective Services that, despite their good intentions, they’re not helping as much as they think. At the same time, Fiona and her family are never framed as victims. They’re smart, complicated, unabashed problem-solvers who constantly make me question my own ethics. I watched all the available seasons of this show in an impressively short period of time while anxiously chewing my blanket during the extra-raucous and suspenseful parts. —Tova
Office Space (1999)
How does a soul-sucking job in a cubicle with unflattering lighting sound? Pretty bad, right? Office Space is a hilarious comedy about a guy (played by Ron Livingston, one of my many fake boyfriends) who hates his horrible job and annoying boss so much that he decides, with the help of friends, to embezzle some money from the company. He also falls in love with a waitress (Jennifer Aniston) at a T.G.I. Fridays–like restaurant next to his office. Office Space was always funny, but in the 15 years since its release, it’s become a time capsule—the office in question is a tech company, and no one there understands the internet. The computers they work on are hulking, enormous monsters. Bonus points go to Milton, the saddest sack at the company, whose mumbles about his beloved red stapler caused the desk accessory to have a renaissance in the early naughts. —Emma S.
Broadcast News (1987)
In the ’80s, before women were being told to “lean in” at work, Jane (played by Holly Hunter), the executive producer of a nightly news show, was figuring it all out for herself while being a total boss. Broadcast News is not about how glamorous and exciting it is to work in television—it opens with a frenzied scene in which an assistant desperately sprints around the studio to get a clip for the night’s show into Jane’s hands—and does so right as it needs to go on the air. It’s nerve-racking, and conveys how stressful it is to make live TV. Jane deals with all this pressure in a very relatable way: She sits at her desk, sobs into her hands for a couple minutes, wipes her eyes, and carries on with her day. Rather than suggest that women have craaaazy emotions, Broadcast News shows how an the ambitious, cool, assertive, and in-control exec might cope with her intensely difficult job. —Brodie
Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980)
If you’ve never heard of the country music legend Loretta Lynn (and if you haven’t, check out “The Pill” and “Rated ‘X’,” which are important parts of music and feminist history), you could easily mistake this biopic about her life as fiction. It tells the story of Loretta, one of eight kids born in the 1930s to a coal miner in an impoverished Kentucky town. She gets married at the age of 15, has four kids by 19, starts a music career in her 20s, and rises to superstardom in her 30s. Loretta works her ass off and juggles her family and dreams from the very beginning, when she has to bring her kids with her on tour and her husband’s support seriously wavers. Sissy Spacek’s alternately heartbreaking and triumphant portrayal of the singer always brings me to tears. —Stephanie ♦