If there’s anything more intriguing than watching TV, it’s watching the stories from behind the scenes of TV. The movies taking a meta approach to the world of television, film, or journalism help explain why people just can’t let go of these tough industries, but they’re also escapist stories that simultaneously make you laugh and teach you to be assertive in your career. Following its recent theatrical release, Late Night has fully revived this genre, and if you can’t get over its vision of dynamic female duos working in late-night comedy, check out these movies like Late Night that deliver a dose of funny inspiration.
Late Night follows new staff writer Molly (Mindy Kaling) as she tries to help late-night TV host Katherine Newbury (Emma Thompson) revitalize her show and comedic style. In real life, the faces of late-night TV are still overwhelmingly male, but movies like Late Night give hope for a more diverse workplace. Whether or not you work in media, there are plenty of movies capturing the highs and lows of professional life and the ways people survive that nine-to-five grind. The picks below focus on careers in TV and journalism, friendships forged in the office, and a hilariously relatable drive to make your dreams come true.
1. ‘Morning Glory’ (2010)
While Katherine Newbury’s specialty is late-night TV, Becky Fuller’s is morning TV production. Played by Rachel McAdams, Becky lands a job executive-producing a struggling morning news show. After she suddenly fires one of the co-anchors, she pursues former star anchorman Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford) as a replacement, but Mike is reluctant to contribute to a changing TV landscape he isn’t very fond of. He takes the job, but the adjustment for both him and Becky will be a struggle.
2. ‘Broadcast News’ (1987)
Based on the career of current CBS News president Susan Zirinsky, Broadcast News introduces thriving producer Jane (Helen Hunt) as a workaholic whose commitment to her job begins to conflict with her interest in a new anchorman. Handsome Tom (William Hurt) struggles with being the face of a serious news program, while Jane’s best friend and fellow news junkie Aaron (Albert Brooks) is jealous of Tom’s charm. What initially appears to be a love triangle turns into a story about a woman’s love of what she does, leaving viewers with a sense of empowerment.
3. ‘The Intern’ (2015)
The Intern tackles both sexism and ageism in the workplace, as Anne Hathaway’s Jules runs a popular fashion retail website and Robert De Niro’s Ben takes an internship at the site to liven up his retirement. The two eventually bond over the experience of being different in the typical professional sphere, reminding audiences that your strongest allies at work just may be the most unlikely people.
4. ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ (2006)
Anne Hathaway loves a workplace dramedy. Movies have depicted supportive, professional women more often in recent years, but chances are that you’ve still experienced your own The Devil Wears Prada-esque boss in the past. Hathaway’s Andy aspires to become a serious journalist, but her only job prospect is an assistant position at the fashion magazine Runway. She has no clue what she’s signing up for when taking the job, but Meryl Streep’s editor-in-chief Miranda Priestly ensures that this won’t be an easy entry-level job.
5. ‘Working Girl’ (1988)
Once upon a time, rom-coms received recognition from the Academy Awards, and Working Girl is one of those special titles. Melanie Griffith plays Tess, a Staten Island native who works as a stockbroker’s secretary and dreams of reaching a higher position. When her boss uses Tess’ ideas without crediting her, Tess decides to impersonate the other woman when she’s out of work with an injury and get her revenge. Tess’ plan isn’t exactly one you should copy, but her drive to succeed is definitely admirable.
6. ‘9 To 5’ (1980)
You know the song, so now it’s time to watch the movie. 9 To 5 is a satirical take on the workplace comedy, introducing three secretaries (Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda, and Lily Tomlin) who decide to abduct their cruel boss and take over his company. After all, everyone needs a way to cope with a job that’s just meant to pay the bills. 9 To 5 also emphasizes the importance of creating friendships at work, and with a sequel supposedly in the works, this is a lesson that viewers simply can’t forget.
7. ‘Set It Up’ (2018)
If you like your career stories with a dose of romance, Set It Up will cover this interest and inspire you to pursue your dreams. Zoey Deutch’s Harper wants to become a writer, but her job as an assistant to a demanding boss distracts her from improving her skills. After she and fellow assistant Charlie (Glen Powell) successfully set up their bosses, Harper has the free time to write more, but getting past her writer’s block and believing in her potential may prove trickier than expected.
8. ‘Clockwatchers’ (1997)
Clockwatchers also covers how the ladder to success affects friendships within the workplace, as four temps at a credit company react to a new hire receiving the job one of them has wanted. A crime wave then hits the office, portraying just how little can upset a typical workplace’s regular, humdrum routine. Starring Toni Collette, Parker Posey, and Lisa Kudrow, the film is as ’90s as it gets, but like 9 To 5, it reminds you that your office friends will get you through a monotonous time.
9. ‘Baby Boom’ (1987)
Baby Boom emphasizes that even when your plans take a drastic turn, you can shift these elements to accommodate your greatest ambitions. When Diane Keaton’s J.C. is unexpectedly given custody of a distantly-related baby, she must balance her thriving job and life as essentially a single mom. She learns that she can still lead a fulfilling life with a child in tow, but the road to that realization is a humorous one.
10. ‘What Men Want’ (2019)
Taraji P. Henson’s Ali works at a predominantly male sports agency and loses out on becoming a partner because her boss believes she can’t relate to men. After drinking suspicious tea and hitting her head, she can hear men’s thoughts, inspiring her to use it to her advantage and try to understand other people. By the end of the film, she finds her own voice and understands how to apply her unique perspective to the world of sports.
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