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29 May 2007

This AskMe post asks about tv shows and movies which are especially accurate in their depiction of police work. I'd like to broaden it a little bit, because I'm wondering which movies and shows accurately depict other kinds of work. What's the most realistic lawyer show? Medical show? Journalist show? Teacher show? Et cetera show?
From my (rather limited) experience working in an E.R., the procedurals of E.R. are relatively correct - moreso than Grey's Anatomy or House.
posted by muddgirl 29 May | 12:06
Murphy Brown was pretty accurate for a TV news show, except that the people were in the office too much. In real life producers and reporters spend at least half their time on the road. That may be less true in DC, since they're covering Washington politics, but still, they're bound to be gone a lot.
posted by BoringPostcards 29 May | 12:13
"The Paper" is probably the best movie about newspaper reporters. Maybe. Either that or "His Girl Friday," but ... you know, "His Girl Friday" is not so accurate, at least not at this point in history.
posted by brina 29 May | 12:55
From the tales my brother told of his career as a South Carolina police deputy, I have concluded that The Andy Griffith Show was a fairly accurate description of small town/rural policing, particularly the characterization of Barney Fife.
posted by mischief 29 May | 13:00
Popular media depictions of psychotherapy are usually way off-key, but the Melfi scenes in The Sopranos are pretty accurate in showing a particular kind of therapy (long-term, psychodynamic) that most people in the US don't experience (because insurers generally won't cover it).
posted by kat allison 29 May | 13:19
Freudian psychotherapy was out of fashion long before insurance preferences for cognitive & other therapy short-term therapy types. Heck, it was going out of fashion by the time of the Bob Newhart Show, which had some exaggerated depictions of group therapy. I would say that Newhart did a decent generic/Rogerian head doctor.

Probably Judd Hirsch's character in Ordinary People was pretty good (I think it even won a psychology industry award). Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting, also.

I could go through some of the profession shows and mark more answers, but frankly, I think that realism is overrated. Example, Pushing Tin, which I thought was a decent portrayal of some quirky air traffic controllers, based on knowing a couple. But the ATCs themselves hated it and could list pages full of technical inaccuracies. I evaluated it on the basis of story, though, and acting.

If you want to be really truly true to almost any profession, you'd have to show hours and hours of boring paperwork and meetings, after all. Or boring car manufacturing (literally the same job over and over). Or ...

The Paper Chase was a fairly accurate depiction of law school (based on my limited knowledge, but then again, how many different stories can you tell about going to law school?
posted by stilicho 29 May | 13:48
Scooby Doo fairly accurately portrays my experience as an adolescent ghost-debunker and all-around meddling kid.
posted by Hugh Janus 29 May | 14:01
Quicksilver was just what it was like to be a bike courier.
posted by omiewise 29 May | 14:03
Not a movie or TV show, but Box Office Poison included an accurate description of life working for a bookstore.
posted by drezdn 29 May | 14:11
posted by GeckoDundee 29 May | 14:53
The day to day operations of a television network looked a lot like Dilbert to me.
posted by StickyCarpet 29 May | 15:27
BoPo, CBC's The Newsroom was reportedly pretty good too, if not too Canadian!

To answer the question, though, I'm not sure I've ever seen anything that looked too much like my life as a sysadmin-type guy, but who'd wanna watch that anyway?
posted by richat 29 May | 17:37
One reason I detest legal shows is they are usually wildly inaccurate. "This Life" seemed to get the vibe right, but the details wrong. For example, Milly, working for a City firm where everyone in real life is put into a tiny box of specialism, would be working on different areas of the law every week - shipping, criminal, corporate, personal injury - which just wouldn't happen.

I believe ER is extremely accurate and that if I ever end up in the ER in Chicago there will be at least one vehicle crashing through the wall, everybody shouting complicated instructions which nobody ever writes down and a doctor who looks exactly like George Clooney will treat me, in which case I will feign some kind of gynae problem so he can give me a very detailed examination. Gawd, I am turning into a Dirty Old Woman.
posted by essexjan 30 May | 01:51
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