5 TV Characters Who Glorify Workaholism

Don’t follow in their footsteps. Take the dang sick day.

Louise Lumia
5 min readJun 24, 2021


Productivity, or lack thereof, has been a buzzy topic as we navigate the end of the pandemic. Many of us are emerging from our laptop driven lives like daytime movie goers fresh out of the theater (although that reference feels foreign now), gathering our bearings as we squint in the the harsh light of day.

Some of us might have worked more to keep busy this year. Some of us may have worked much less from the crippling anxiety the year brought on. Either way, the transitions we’re going through now force us to take stock of many aspects of our lives.

Whether you’re counting down the seconds your work life returns to ‘normal’, never going back to the office because your company has gone remote for good, or anxious about going back to the work life you knew before the pandemic, it’s important to continue taking care of yourself (whatever that looks like for you). Even if you heart your job, too much of a good thing can be bad for us. Some of our most beloved TV characters are perfect examples of how living for work is an unsustainable way of operating that can negatively impact our sense of self and wellbeing.

Schmidt, New Girl

Schmidt derives so much pleasure from rising up the corporate ranks of his female-dominated workplace. For better or worse, reaching each new benchmark of success as it arises becomes tangled into his personality and self-worth. But his work gets in the way of his happiness, particularly his romantic relationships, time and time again. No spoilers here but thankfully Schmidt sees the light and changes his workaholic ways by the end of the show, and is much happier for it.

Chandler Bing, Friends

What is a day in the life of a….transponster? We may never fully understand what Chandler’s job entailed, but we do know it kept him very busy. And although he was proud to make enough money to pay for Monica’s dream wedding, he was clearly unfulfilled. The burden of being the breadwinner is clearly a motivator in Chandler’s work ethic. Hell, he was willing to fly between Tulsa and NYC on a weekly basis. Like Schmidt, Chandler eventually turns in his transponster badge to find something that brings him joy. Chandler reminds us that while it’s perfectly okay to want to bring home the bacon, everything has it limits. There is no amount of frequent flier miles that can fill the void of missing your wife and f*r*i*e*n*d*s.

Leslie Knope, Parks and Rec

Let’s be honest, we could all be so lucky as to love what we do as much as Leslie Knope. But even the queen of organization struggled to have a personal life. In one episode, she fails to take one day off to spend time with her partner. As much as we can love what we do, it’s only one piece of the pie. We need to make room for other things in life, especially as these other things start to become available to us again after the pandemic. Everyone’s pie chart looks a little different, some of us need bigger slices of non-work pie than others, but we all need variation of some kind. I think Leslie Knope would be in full support of pie variation in life (although she may prefer waffles).

Grace Hanson, Grace and Frankie

There’s no denying Grace Hanson is a boss. She’s who I’d be in another life where I build my own empire from scratch and eventually have a gorgeous office space in southern California California. She has a company of her very own that anyone would be jealous of, but we see what it has cost her relationships. If Grace could learn to delegate every once and a while, the way great leaders do, she may be able to spend a little more time with her family. One of the perks of being your own boss is having someone else do the busy work. Hiring people you can trust is not just an investment for your business, but an investment in your wellbeing!

Liz Lemon, 30 Rock

Oh, Liz. Always trying to find the balance between her work and personal life. If 2021 has taught us anything it’s that balance is a myth not worth chasing. Instead of trying to ‘have it all’, we have to design our lives in a way that makes sense for each of us individually, and doesn’t lead to burnout in every domain of life. One of the pros of being remote (or having a flex schedule) is the ability to create a manageable, and possibly even enjoyable, schedule. Maybe if Liz could work from home one day a week she would finally get her home office set up and get more use out of the snuggie she loves so much (that doesn’t involve working on her night cheese).

We’re all struggling in one way or another to figure out our day to day lives post pandemic, but we don’t need to go back to the way things were just because we can.

Let’s drop the ideology of ‘hustle culture’ and the toxic mantra of ‘work hard play hard’. Let’s not continue down the erroneous path of one size fits all in structuring our work days.

Let’s use the information we collectively learned about the possibilities of remote work and the importance of true mental health days to not only redesign out schedules in a way that works for us, but to embrace anti-workaholic values that bring us more peace and less stress.



Louise Lumia

Writer, Counselor-in-Training, Professional Binge Watcher of The Office, Coffee Enthusiast