Why you should watch ‘9 to 5’ right now! (Like, right now)
Do you know what today is? It’s Administrative Professionals’ Day. It’s possible that you didn’t know that was a holiday, but if you happen to be an administrative professional, celebrate! This is your day. Chances are you don’t get a day off (it’s Wednesday, after all) but fear not, there are still plenty of ways to celebrate this most glorious holiday after 5 o’clock!
One means of celebration is to pop in a great movie about office work. There are plenty to choose from: Office Space, The Devil Wears Prada, or you could just watch a marathon of The Office and feel sorry for Dawn (or Pam, depending on which series you choose). But our absolute favorite movie about working in an office is . . . drum roll, please . . . 9 to 5. This movie is the definition of a “classic,” and is still just as hilarious and poignant today as it was in 1980 when it was first released.
The film pointed a spotlight on the issue of sexism in the workplace, and provided three terrific female protagonists, played by absolute legends: Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton, and Jane Fonda. Those gals should be enough to warrant a viewing but, if you need a little more incentive to watch (it’s streaming on Netflix right now, BTW), here are some of the best workplace wisdom pearls the film has to offer.
The first day is often the hardest
As Judy (Fonda) starts her first day at Consolidated Companies, her supervisor Violet (Tomlin) shows her the ropes, and introduces her to the boss, Mr. Hart (played by Dabney Coleman). Hart is a “sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot,” who is known for underestimating (and taking advantage of) Violet’s potential, sexually harassing Doralee (Dolly Parton), and firing people without cause. In short, he’s our antagonist. Judy is visibly uncomfortable and nervous on her first day, as she has never worked outside of the home prior to her very recent divorce. She tries to navigate the social dynamics of an office workplace, while also keeping up with the technical aspects of her job.
In one particularly relatable scene, Judy tries to figure out how to use the Xerox machine. Poor Judy can’t keep up with the speed and malfunction of this enormous copier, so papers fly all around her as she tries to find a way to just turn the darn thing off! When Mr. Hart realizes what a huge mess she’s made, he snaps viciously at our pal Judy, making her cry pitifully as she cleans up her mess. Jane Fonda perfectly embodies the timidity of Judy in this scene, and completely nails that awful feeling of failure that everyone experiences from time to time. Especially on day one.
Whatever it takes, remain calm
Above all, this film is a comedy! Ridiculous situations arise, bad choices are made and our three leading ladies fall down quite a rabbit hole on their way to equality in the workplace. This is what makes this movie absolute gold. Have you ever imagined how you would navigate truly insane circumstances? Without spoiling any of the juicy plot points of the film, lets just say that our girls of 9 to 5 receive firsthand training on thinking quickly on your feet and covering your tracks. They also learn that sometimes, remaining calm is much more difficult than it sounds!
Work friends can be the best kind of friends
The brilliance of 9 to 5 can in large part be attributed to the terrific cast that brings the characters to life. It is rare in a workplace comedy to see the kind of chemistry Dolly, Jane, and Lily bring to the table. It’s the kind of comedic chemistry that has you in stitches throughout the entire film, but also makes you wonder how much more hysterical these ladies were between takes. This is a girlfriend movie just as much as it’s an office comedy. Interestingly, the film begins with a lot of friction between Doralee and Judy. Mr. Hart has the entire office convinced that he and Doralee are sleeping together, and Judy (whose husband left her for his secretary), has a difficult time giving Doralee a fair chance. But as the story progresses, these two come together when it counts most. So if you’ve got a great friend who you met at work, 9 to 5 could really hit home!
Work fashion inspiration is a secret movie perk
Growing up watching 9 to 5, I always loved the characters, laughed at the brilliant jokes, and pensively awaited the conflict resolution. Re-watching the movie as an adult, however, I realized that I overlooked one of the greatest resources it provides — fashion inspiration! Let’s be honest, being an administrative professional requires you to put effort into coordinating outfits on the reg. This can be fun at first, but if you’re like me, your closet starts to feel like a black hole of boring options after a few months. The workplace fashion in 9 to 5 might just be the thing to reinvigorate your love of getting dressed. Who doesn’t want to dress like Dolly Parton? And BTW, I want to replicate every single one of Lily Tomlin’s ensembles from this movie!
You’ve gotta talk about the uncomfortable stuff
9 to 5 is certainly relevant, and will be as long as harassment, discrimination, and gender inequality are present in the workplace. We’ve come a tremendous way, even since 1980 when this glorious film first opened, but there is still work to be done. 9 to 5 not only exposes these issues, the film also paints a picture of the creativity, critical thinking, and competence women bring to a workplace — especially with regards to issues like the wage gap.
Whether you’ve seen it a million times or have never heard of it, 9 to 5 should be a part of your Administrative Professionals Day, because it will make you LOL, and may even open you up to new observations about your office ecosystem. So pour yourself a cup of ambition, and see what all the fuss is about!