Things We Learned From ‘Underemployed’
Underemployed is a new MTV scripted show centered on five recent college grads living in Chicago, struggling to succeed at work while also collectively raising a baby at home (the baby being the child of two of the five grads). There’s Sophia, the wannabe writer manning the cash register at a doughnut shop; Daphne, the PR assistant who had sex with her boss and then blackmailed him for a full-time job; Miles, the aspiring model working as a cater-waiter; Louis, an environmentalist working in his dad’s corporate office; and Raviva, the mom of the “baby mama.”
As similar Millennials living and working in Chicago, we’re curious about what we can glean about our lives. So what does Underemployed have to say about, well, us?
Emmet: So, what did you learn this week? And do you and your friends have an “ultimate bat signal”?
Elly: I learned that underemployment looks a lot like The Real World—where sex and sexuality is among a young person’s best assets to get ahead. Everyone is beautiful and confused. There’s a token gay. And yeah, of course we have a bat sign. Who doesn’t? (read: snark)
Emmet: No one ever lacks for money; they just say they do.
Elly: And the “city” plays as much of a role as the five characters themselves, like the rotating settings of The Real World, which actually never depicts any place aptly. What about you?
Emmet: I learned that underemployment is awesome, which I did not know when I was 22. Your best friends are always around, and able to drop everything at any moment to hang out. You can live in huge lofts in cool neighborhoods.
Elly: You’re basically Van Wilder 2.0.
Emmet: Yes. And even throwing a baby in the mix won’t change anything. You all get to raise her together!
Elly: Plus you get super skinny within hours of having it. Damn if it was all that easy, I’d have like five. Actually, no I wouldn’t.
Emmet: I was living in New York when I was 22, and I remember appetizers at press events would be my dinner a lot of nights. I didn’t know life would be more affordable with a baby.
Elly: I still go to Whole Foods in hopes of excess samples.
Emmet: So you’re saying you couldn’t afford a crib, baby clothes, formula, diapers, strollers, and everything else associated at the drop of a hat? Because as we discovered in “The Crib,” the biggest issue facing the group of friends is not money—it’s if they are spending enough time with each other. Raviva asks Lou to stay home on his third day of work! They make up an “ultimate bat signal” that they can pull on each other, and everyone should just drop everything or the friendship is over.
Elly: The group thinks that they’re underemployed superheroes. I mean, a bat signal sounds like a Marvel comic.
Emmet: Uh, DC comic. I’m a nerd.
Elly: There’s this phrase out there for life after college called (f)unemployment. If anything, that’s what this show seems to represent: excess sex, giant friend hangs, good hair, nice bikes…
Emmet: I’m impressed with Daphne’s ability to just take off work in the middle of the day to have sex with her boss.
Elly: And eat homemade Italian food in a box in the sky. Also she blackmails him to get a better salary. WTF.
Emmet: I wonder if anyone on the writing staff has actually met a Millennial?
Elly: Oh also apparently the anorexic, eastern European trope is the new comedic relief these days. “Pukey McToothpick” is basically Cece’s model roommate on New Girl. What’s up with that?
Emmet: I want to go back to this ultimate bat signal, because it was within the first five minutes and basically ruined everything for me, because it is so much more a stereotype of how our generation thinks than reality. Really, their parents didn’t have friends when they had kids, and that’s why they’re all divorced now?
Elly: I kind of hate the trend of the idiotic, horrible parents. I get that it’s a trope, but drives me crazy.
Emmet: Let’s wrap this up before we spend too long hating on it. Anything you liked?
Elly: There are some funny moments. The aspiring writer is appropriately self-deprecating.
Emmet: I appreciated that they didn’t drag out Sophia’s coming out. These characters still don’t seem like real-life people though.
Elly: Yeah, it’s just like all of MTV’s other shows—Jersey Shore, The Real World, Skins.
Emmet: Don’t front like you don’t love Teen Wolf.