Take Five…Working Girls

No not a reference to the release of Les Miserables, featuring one of the most famous literary prostitutes (although perhaps a theme for another week).  This week I’m looking at the jobs that film women do on screen.

I read this blog post by Freelance writer Bim Adewumni aka Yoruba Girl Dancing which suggested that Hollywood Romcom leads tend to have high falutin’ jobs – meaning everyone is pretty much college/university educated or works in media/fashion which are highly competitive fields and very rarely do working class jobs.  YBD highlighted Sandra Bullock’s toll booth attendant as a rarity.

Cracked.com also wrote about the 3 jobs you can have if you’re a woman in a Hollywood film:

So here’s  5 films that buck that trend with romantic leads in jobs which do not require higher education, probably have no health benefits and who aren’t housewives or mothers:


Office Space – Jennifer Aniston playing a waitress in a chain restaurant To be fair there are a serious amount of film waitresses –Keri Russell in Waitress, Bridget Fonda in It Could Happen to You (with bonus points for Rosie Perez as a manicurist/hairdresser), Mildred Pierce and Amelie to name but a few.

Toll Booth attendant credibility score: 4/5 – for the flair!

Serenity – In a film/tv show where you actually have to train pretty hard to be a legitimate prostitute, the other 2 leads are a female mechanic played by Jewel Straite, who seems to have had no formal training and/or worked with her dad and the First Mate who is technically a military veteran, played by Gina Torres.

Toll Booth attendant credibility score: 3/5 whilst not requiring formal qualifications Kaylee was apprenticed to her father and Zoe’s leadership and badass skills were forged in battle, so severely schooled in the university of hard knocks!

Friends with MoneyJennifer Aniston playing a maid.  Crappy pay, terrible apartment and friends who are all really concerned about you and earn more than you.  Yep you are a grade A working class romantic lead. See also Jennifer Lopez in Maid in Manhattan who is also a single mother.

Toll Booth attendant credibility score: 4.5/5 (0.5 lost because she was a teacher but was unhappy and left her job)

The Secretary – In which Maggie Gyllenhaal has diagnosed mental health issues and no qualifications, but can type.  Sort of.  Also Katherine Heigl is a PA in 27 Dresses, but I suspect she’s an Executive Assistant with a degree, given that it’s a pretty high falutin’ company.

Toll Booth attendant credibility score: 3.5/5.  It is in a law office after all

The Good Girl – Here you go Bim, there’s a romantic lead checkout girl.  Justine played by -you guessed it – queen of the romcom, Jennifer Aniston.  And Sarah Polley and Katie Holmes are checkout girls in Go. Romance is not exactly their primary objective but Katie’s character definitely gets some!

Toll Booth attendant credibility score:  5/5

Special Mention: Isla Fisher in Definitely Maybe.  I can’t remember her final job, but she takes absolutely ages and several filler jobs and travelling to get there.

Excluded examples:

Starship Troopers – Dizzy the battle grunt is excluded because she’s not the romantic lead. Also Cops and military are a sort of grey area and probably have some health benefits with the job (On second thoughts is being mercy killed a health benefit?).

St. Elmos Fire – Mare Winningham’s Wendy is a social worker but she does have a degree so she was a bit fuzzy. I’ll invite YGD to give a ruling.

Win a Date with Tad Hamilton! – Another checkout girl-omitted because I didn’t want to admit I’d seen this.



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