Television shows often act as a source of escape from the daily grind, providing entertainment that distracts from the stress of the real world. But sometimes, when you choose to see it, there are a few professional tricks and tips to be learned from your favorite fictional characters, especially those who are trying to make it big in their chosen industries. Shows in corporate settings that feature individuals clawing their way to the top are capable of endowing viewers with life lessons that might prove useful in the workplace.
You never know, you might just land that promotion and coveted corner office after that weekend binge-watch marathon.
Learn to: Talk your way out of a sticky situation, in style
Fans of this cult hit know that Manhattan lawyers Harvey Specter and Mike Ross (Gabriel Macht and Patrick J. Adams) have found themselves in all sorts of crazy dilemmas. Whether they’re defending a high-stakes client, resolving questionable legal practices, or navigating their similarly complicated personal lives, one thing’s for sure—these fast-talkers know how to close a case. Plus, it doesn’t hurt if you’ve got a snazzy designer suit on to help bolster your air of authority.
Learn to: Build an empire from nothing
Wealthy criminals are the worst, but how they choose to invest and move their money around is nothing short of an artform. Bobby “Axe” Axelrod (Damian Lewis), the sly hedge fund manager who started from nothing and slowly amassed riches through (sometimes) shady means, is a prime example of an underdog getting his way. Axe is a modern-day Robin Hood, charismatic and generous and philanthropic, qualities that have helped mask the darker side of his persona.
House of Cards
Learn to: Manipulate people to your advantage
The ascent of President Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) wasn’t an easy climb. Scaling the political ranks of the White House is not for the fain of heart. Together with his wife, Claire (Robin Wright), he had to crush numerous foes who didn’t have his best interest in mind before landing in the seat of Commander in Chief. Like a champion chess player, he’s able to strategically maneuver those around him while always being two steps ahead. Yes, he can be awful, but being nice almost always gets you nowhere.
Learn to: Land that big pitch
The genius behind one of this generation’s most influential drama series was that, despite being set in another era, the themes resonated with the present. Advertising head Don Draper (Jon Hamm) embodied that existential dread that went along with being a high-powered creative—a mix of stoic composure and complex ennui. And although he had his fair share of skeletons to keep in the closet, when it came to winning that major pitch, he always made sure that his ducks (and staff) were all in a row.
Learn to: Hustle and flow
Donald Glover’s television masterpiece is about hustling to make ends meet. It’s a potent mix of drama and comedy, blending the two in a bleak manner that creates an original voice. Earn (played by Glover himself) is a down on his luck black man with a baby to support and a bay mama to appease. He sees an opportunity to become a music producer and cash in when his distant cousin accidentally comes up with a rap hit. This leads to a lot of weed smoking, insane scenarios that are sometimes unreal, and poignant observations on surviving as a low-income American.