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53. Because at Least Fantasy Jobs Are Alive and Well in Fiction

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Ugly Betty, starring America Ferrara, may have moved production to New York this year, but its take on our town is still reassuringly Hollywood.   

When Ugly Betty’s Betty Suarez breathlessly competes for a magazine-editor training program; when Mad Men’s Peggy Olson glows with satisfaction, having broken through the glass ceiling and secured a thrilling gig as an advertising copywriter; when any of 3,000 crusading imaginary lawyers pounds the desk and achieves justice in the name of a falsely accused corporation and/or rapist, you can be sure you are inhabiting the one place where New York professional life remains powerful and assured: Hollywood. As the sand-castle economic structure of our city’s major industries is flattened by a wave of bad news, it’s oddly comforting to know that in movies and on TV, work remains thrilling and exalted, a matter of life and death (or at least the climactic final-act presentation that trumps one’s snide office frenemy). Should Betty get her own pink slip, she’d likely transform it into an underdog triumph—a magazine called Pink Slipper, perhaps?—because in our mutual imagination, that fabulous New York glamour job remains eternally secure.


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