Skip to main contentA logo with &quat;the muse&quat; in dark blue text.
Advice / Succeeding at Work / Break Room

5 Workplaces That Have More Drama Than Yours

Petty co-workers? A micro-managing boss? Never enough space in the office fridge for your lunch? We all have our share of office politics. Sometimes it can be a nice respite from the doldrums of a slow day (what did happen at karaoke last Thursday?), but other times, the drama can really start to get you down.

That’s where we (and your TV) come in. Any time you’re feeling like your office’s antics might be a little too much, just tune in to one of these shows. Trust me, by the time you finish an episode, you’ll feel like your gig might even be sort of normal.

1. Mad Men (Sundays at 10/9c on AMC)

Since its pilot episode, this show has exposed the thickly-layered drama of a 1960s ad agency, which extends well beyond your typical office politics—think sexual harassment, passive aggressiveness, illicit relationships between co-workers, and unplanned pregnancies (to name a few). Everyone is sleeping with everyone. Everyone is cheating on everyone. Heartache abounds. Last season, Don Draper’s divorce from ice queen Betty sent him into an emotional tailspin of “what-does-it-all-mean” ruminations and alcoholism, eventually leading him to his new wife, Megan. Season 5 just started, and there’s more drama than ever before. Stay tuned!

2. Smash (Mondays at 10/9c on NBC)

All’s fair in love, war, and the make-or-break world of Broadway. And we get an inside peek at this high-stakes emotional minefield with Smash, the new show that centers on the cast of a Marilyn Monroe-themed Broadway musical. In the first eight episodes, there’s already been high drama over casting decisions, investor relations, stage fright, and laryngitis—and that’s just the show biz stuff. Off-stage, the characters themselves are tackling a host of personal obstacles that include bitter divorces, a frustrating international adoption, and secret crushes.

3. Grey’s Anatomy (Thursdays at 9/8c on ABC)

Honestly, what drama hasn’t gone down at Seattle Grace? Love triangles, heartbreaks, death, and a crazed shooter stalking the hallways are just a handful of the ups and downs of life in the world of Dr. Meredith Grey. Dying patients and medical crises constantly interrupt the characters’ interpersonal angst, which only heightens the show’s emotional punch. There are heartwarming moments to be found, for sure, but overall, the show can be pretty gray. And as I keep watching, more and more of my hairs are getting there, too.

4. Awake (Thursdays at 10/9c on NBC)

This show’s protagonist, detective Michael Britten, wakes up after a car accident to discover that he separately inhabits two distinct realities: one in which his wife Hannah survived the accident, the other in which his son Rex did. In each reality, he has different jobs, different partners, and different shrinks—and he has to wear different colored rubber bands on his wrist to help himself keep the two worlds straight. And that’s all before his morning coffee.

5. House of Lies (Sundays at 10/9c on Showtime) 

Showtime’s dark comedy is based on the book How Management Consultants Steal Your Watch and Then Tell You the Time by Martin Kihn, a former Booz Allen Hamilton consultant. Bleeding clients dry? Check. Threats of a hostile corporate takeover? Check. A cross-dressing son? Check. The drama these management consultants encounter on a daily basis will make you thankful your biggest work problem is figuring out who keeps stealing your baby carrots from the break room. Unless, of course, you’re a management consultant.

What’s your favorite on-screen workplace drama?

Photo courtesy of Brett Jordan.