“It is an old story but, in all of its guises, a perennially appealing one. A poor boy makes good. A secretary marries her boss, thereby launching herself from the steno pool to the penthouse. A lowborn young man with a burning ambition and an idea that everyone tells him is crazy becomes a successful entrepreneur (Levinson, J., 2012, pp.1)”. This is the case in Ethan Coen and Joel Coen’s 1994 film, The Hudsucker Proxy – A satirical comedy about the world of business and corporate greed, following an ambitious but naive young man, who is blissfully unaware that he is part of the board of directors’ bigger plans, and moves up the corporate ladder from the mailroom to the executive suite after showing the directors his ‘idea’. “The myth of success, with its fervid conviction that the opportunity for material attainment and spiritual fulfillment is every individual’s birthright and is within each person’s power, is central to American national identity. Our public discourse and our cultural artifacts exalt the archetype of the self-made man who, with determination, industriousness, and strategy, propels himself to the pinnacle of achievement. Since the eighteenth century, the success myth has been a key component of American master narratives: those resonant stories that seem to contain the essence of the nation and that get told and retold across generations and genres (Levinson, J., 2012, pp.1-2)”.The Hudsucker Proxy (1994) uses a satirical approach to bring the Coen’s opinions on the workplace to the fore. But it’s only one approach, among many different examples of the many ways that entrepreneurship and the work society can be depicted on screen.

We can see the many examples of how this is done in the work of Michael Schur and Dan Goor alone, who hone in on the workplace in their many successful sitcoms inclusive of The Office, The Good Place and more recently successful, Brooklyn Nine-Nine. All of which discuss the workplace in a satirical, but simultaneously entirely serious all at the same time – approaching current social topics that involves workplace concerns inclusive of sexism and discrimination within the workplace and society, issues of inequality and even touching on specific social issues relative to the workplace such as police brutality.


  • Levinson, J., 2012, The American Success Myth on Film, Palgrave Macmillan UK, London.

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