Films of the Past: Strange & Unusual Receptionists Duties
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Nov 29, 2012

Films of the Past: Strange & Unusual Receptionists Duties

It’s a common motif in the television and film world. The “help” is actually the one to make sure things run smoothly. From Hoke Colburn in Driving Miss Daisy to Berta in Two and a Half Men, it’s those would-be real-life supporting characters that are driving the action. You see, it’s not the boss that runs the show. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. It’s the underlings that serve as the rivets, holding the entire ship together. Sometimes the underlings are acutely aware of this, and sometimes they are not.
Jane Hathaway
Consider the proverbial erstwhile secretary. Jane Hathaway from the Beverly Hillbillies is a great example of one saddled with strange and unusual duties – anything Drysdale’s hairbrain imagination could come up with. “Miss Jane,” as she was so-often called, had to counteract Drysdale with her not-so-hairbrain wits, which usually involved going along with the scheme in some very un-secretarial ways… like launching skeet, for instance.

Anne Hathaway
On the other hand, we have another Hathaway – Anne Hathaway, who was trained diligently as a quasi-flunky by Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada. In the movie’s key plot twist, “Andy’s” duties as a personal assistant get seriously personal when she is compelled to save her liege embarrassment at a “social” function.
It gets even more seemingly non-professional when she is forced to inform her coworker that she is taking over her duties at a rather undesirable time. If YOU got schooled like this, though, you’d do just about everything you were ever told, too!

Right on the cusp of crossing the professional boundary is the case of one who’s had his way for so long that even conventional requests seem foreign. Before her quest for the US Senate this past year, Park Overall was best known as Lavern from the 80s sitcom Empty Nest. Never one for the mundane, Lavern could never be bothered to mind the Doctor’s personal schedule for him, always drawing the sharp line between business and pleasure, as Bea Arthur found out the hard way!

Jane Fonda
No review of the on-screen administrative assistant would be complete without delving into the world of the inappropriate. Except for Maggie Gyllenhaal’s character in Secretary, the 80s classic movie 9 to 5 is probably the best example of this. You are probably familiar with the song, but the movie is a forgotten exposition of the out-of-line boss. Jane Fonda and Dolly Parton endured non-stop harassment from Dabney Coleman in attempts to “transfer their duties” one could say. Together, with Lily Tomlin, the ladies instead end up proving their womanhood, and these would-be unusual receptionist duties never did see the light of day.

Guest Author: David Ching is a marketing stratagist for EQA Office Furniture, a California store selling office cubicles, desk chairs, receptionist desks, conference tables and more nationwide.