Now, the money’s gone. The jobs are gone. And characters in comedies who are supposed to be relatable are most certainly not young and wealthy, nor do they desire to be. “Ted” was the biggest comedy of 2012, and its main character would fit right in on the set of “Clerks.” “Pineapple Express” is about committed slackers who find happiness by more or less staying slackers. As for “Workaholics?” It can be boiled down to the story of two guys who aspire for nothing more than their jobs at a call center, and one guy (Ders) who makes overtures of wanting more—with that “more” just being a higher position at the call center. They’re as accurate a representation today in popular culture of what it looks like when a twenty-something has grown up being told he can do anything, and then the new reality bites him in the ass. They drink too much, they smoke too much pot, and they chase women. They’re motivated to just enjoy the lot they’ve been cast.
Over on “Girls,” Hannah is similarly lazy and unmotivated, but she at least aims for the career of a memoirist. And her friends all have a safety net of their own privileged upbringings, which give them a chance to rise above their current situations. They lack the real slacker mentality of the “Workaholics” guys, which is the case for much of today’s generation.
Pop culture emphasis
Have you noticed how fucking weird we talk among our friends? How many conversations just become a series of pop culture references, and how many times, the references don’t make any sense? How they’re just shoehorned in because sometimes you don’t really feel the need to say anything monumental when you’re just bullshitting on your couch on a Saturday afternoon? This is the dominant way of communication for college kids and post-grads—not the discussions about relationships that dominate the male bonding of "Girls"—and “Workaholics” gets it. The writers know how guys nowadays spend their time waiting to drop an “Anchorman” reference. That’s Adam, Ders, and Blake:
"Did Jamie Foxx and Gabrielle Union just show up because someone's 'Breakin' All the Rules.’"
“Judge Judy up your booty!”
"Bitch Betta Have My Honey!"
“Oh you poor little baby bitch. What's the matter, did Thor kick you out of the Avengers?”
“Her name was Roberta Paulson... her name was Roberta Paulson.”
"I look like I'm in a ska band bro, I could be in like... Reel Big Fish right now."
“I used to cut myself to Dashboard Confessional. I love love.”
And when it’s not pop culture references, it’s weird inside jokes that have long lost their meaning. Take, for instance, “tight butthole” on the show. Ders said on the cast’s AMA yesterday that it came about after the writers were discussing how arbitrary it was that people say “Tits!” instead of “Cool!” Why not just say “tight butthole?” they asked.
How many of your weird inside jokes do you constantly say in everyday conversation? And, how many times do you have meaningless discussions about hypothetical situations?
Here are guys who found a television platform and never stopped saying them.
This, finally, is where “Workaholics” is most spot-on. Guys fresh out of school today have three different types of jobs. 1. A challenging job that comes because the person has graduated from a good school and is looking to make a lot of money quickly. These jobs have long hours, are boring, and generally are soul-sucking. 2. Jobs that are in a career you want, but require a sacrifice of money and benefits. These jobs mean one can’t actually afford to have a life outside of work. 3. Jobs that pay okay, are more of 9-5 work, and are also boring. These jobs are most common, obviously.
Most of the characters in “Girls” fall into Group 2, yet they also, somehow, have enough coin to live a social life. Not the most realistic thing, but whatever.
The characters in “Workaholics,” however, are solidly Group 3, a situation where most post-grads, who also live in small towns and the suburbs, currently find themselves. It’s a life that requires you to find your own fun and meaning at work but not through work, or to take up pursuits outside of work. Think of the importance of the office party in “Good Mourning," the interactions with the overly competitive Montez, the trips the guys go on—they’re all ultimately distractions from the boring shit we all deal with in an office setting on a day-to-day basis. Adam, Ders, and Blake don't really hate their jobs, though, and neither do a lot of people in Group 3. They just don't try to get any happiness or satisfaction out of them. This isn't a bad thing. It's just the reality.
I find it really telling, too, that the three guys work in a telemarketing center, which has all but been completely outsourced to different countries. Older people on a show would at least worry about becoming a redundancy. But for 20-somethings like the three "Workaholics," who have graduated at a shitty time and can take or leave the job they're at? Eh, fuck it. Things will work out.
Post-Sad appears every Tuesday.