Who's the Boss?

Franklin Hart, Jr. in 9 to 5

Taking a friendship from office cubicle to real world is usually a slow progression involving mutual bitch sessions and booze-induced oversharing, but in 9 to 5 it’s fast-tracked, when co-workers Judy, Violet and Doralee kidnap their boss, Franklin Hart Jr. Granted, he’s a deserving candidate for such a crime, given his brazen sexual harassment, tendency to impulsively fire staff, and support of the gender pay gap. And you can even bet he leaves his unwashed mug in the communal kitchen sink. Every. Single. Day. When the trio of dames decide they’ve finally had enough of his shit, they band together and force their boss to take some overdue long service leave. (Translation: they hold him captive in his Tudor-style mansion until they can figure out a way to blackmail him.) In his absence, they manage to implement positive change in the workplace, and investigate an embezzlement scandal that not only brings down their boss, but restore their office kitchen hygiene forever. Type of boss: Despicable.

 M in the James Bond Films

 Working in 30-minute intervals a la the Pomodoro time management technique is one way to foster office productivity; another is to tell your employees the world will come to an end if they don’t do their job. This is the preferred style of M, James Bond’s boss throughout the celebrated franchise. Played by four actors across the 24 films, top marks must go to Dame Judi Dench for the first female portrayal of the famous character. M is in charge of the UK’s secret service MI6, and is the strategic mastermind behind James Bond’s save-the-world antics. (Try listing that on your LinkedIn profile.) She’s firm but fair, respected and feared, and receiving praise from M is rare – but when it does happen, you’ll wish you’d recorded on a secret spy Bluetooth device so you can play it back and bask in it again and again. Type of boss: Bad-arse.

Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wear’s Prada

Someone could make a lot of money if they invented an app that forecasts the weather, as well as your boss’s daily mood. When the program predicts sunny with a chance of cheer, you’d know it was the right time to ask for a well-earned bonus. When it predicts thunderstorms with a chance of thunderstorms, it probably isn’t broken – but your boss is probably Miranda Priestly. As editor of Runway magazine, Miranda is highly revered for both her professional talents and chillingly composed expressions of displeasure. Assistant Andrea is on call 24/7 to meet her outrageous demands, like locating an unreleased Harry Potter manuscript, or getting Miranda on a flight home t NYC when all airports are closed. She’s the kind of boss who leaves you trembling, but craving her approval, no matter how many coffee cups you have to juggle in chaotic New York traffic. Eventually you might earn her begrudging respect, but not before winding up in hospital or alienating your pals. Type of boss: Unnerving.

Charlie Townsend in Charlie's Angels

Warning: when a boss declares micromanagement is not their style, run the other way, because they are lying. From now on, your work will be under surveillance by a watchful eye typically reserved for high-ranking sleuths. If this irks you, consider finding a job with Charlie Townsend of Charlie’s Angels – the master of all delegators. You won’t even know he’s at work because, well, he’s not. After recruiting dissatisfied police graduates Sabrina Duncan, Jill Munroe and Kelly Garrett to join his detective agency, he never visits the office again. Not once. Charlie prefers to communicate via speaker phone, verbally delivering dangerous missions for his ‘Angels’ to complete. A true enigma, I’m unsure whether Charlie is even a real man or was he just Siri’s artificially intelligent grandfather. Either way, the Angels trust him explicitly, and in the name of solving crime, put their life on the line. Literally. Dial tone and all. Type of boss: Absent.

Michelle Darnell in The Boss

 Enjoying the public downfall of your former boss is similar to watching so much Netflix that the pop-up menu asks if you are still there – it’s shameful. But oh-so satisfying. When wealthy CEO Michelle Darnell goes from the richest woman in America to being arrested for insider trading, her unappreciated former assistant Clare revels in the relation of it all. The celebration is short-lived, however, when Michelle shows up on Clare’s doorstep bankrupt and looking for a place to stay. As a boss, Michelle is selfish, blunt and flippant about Clare’s existence – and as a housemate, she’s much the same. Eager to rebuild her empire, she turns her desperation into opportunity and finds redemption by starting a girl scout brownie business with Clare and her daughter. Michelle goes on to nurture the next generation of young entrepreneurs by selling enough brownies for a college trust fund and in-dorm SodaStream – so it’s not all bad. Type of boss: Reformed swindler.  

Katharine Parker in Working Girl

Stealing a pen from the office stationery cupboard is bad, especially if it’s a felt tip pen (because duh, expensive!), but stealing ideas from your colleagues is worse. In Working Girl, Katharine Parker is the master of manipulation. She befriends her new secretary Tess under false pretences, encouraging her to share her ideas - because hey, if women are to rise through the corporate ranks they need to stand united! Tess impresses Katharine by proposing a lucrative client merger; an idea her boss says she’ll take to upper management. Of course, she never does, and instead is poised to palm the idea off as her own. Unluckily for her, a glamourous ski getaway leads to time spent holed up with a broken leg, and the opportunity for Tess to not only commit identity theft, but also take back ownership of the merger of the merger in her absence. The lesson here? Karma never takes a holiday. Type of boss: Underhanded.

 Bill Lumbergh in Office Space

Trying to keep your eyelids open when you’re really bored is tricky as hell, and unfortunately for computer programmer Peter in Office Space, it’s his nine-to-five reality – especially when smarmy boss Bill Lumbergh is around. In Bill’s office, clocks are reductive, because his regimented routine acts as a human timekeeper. His monotony extends from his wardrobe (which features enough two-tone-shirt-and-suspender combos to last a financial year) to his hourly cubicle visits and repetitive requests for overtime and number-filled reports. Bill Lumbergh exemplifies bureaucracy at its very worst. This man loves a memo, and will send you a memo to tell you how much he loves memos until the Xerox printer runs out of ink. Type of boss: Mind-numbing.

This article was originally published in frankie magazine Issue 87.

Lisa Marie Corso