25 Thoughts I Had While Watching 'Working Girl' In 2015

by Leigh Anderson
Originally Published: 

Working Girl, that ode to 1980s’ hair and striving working-class women, is 27 years old. I watched it again, for the first time since 1988, and it was like no time at all had passed. I was in eighth grade, Harrison Ford was 46, and Joan Cusack was the funniest woman on the Staten Island Ferry. But one’s perspective does change a bit in almost three decades. Below are the 25 thoughts I had while watching Working Girl in 2015.

1. Oh yeah, Alec Baldwin as Mick, Tess’s no-good boyfriend. If you want a flashback to 1980s working-class Irish gorgeousness, watch this movie now.

2. The opening shot is the World Trade Center, an unexpectedly poignant moment.

3. Carly Simon singing “Let the River Run” makes me want to run around the track in Hammer pants and an asymmetrical haircut, pumping my arms in the air. Download.

4. Joan Cusack saying “Whaddya need speech class for, you tawk fine” is just about the most perfect movie line ever written.

5. Also, her makeup. Those are some 45-minute eyes. She looks like a member of KISS if Gene Simmons upholstered his eyelids in Sunbrella fabric.

6. Mick reading Motor Trend magazine on Tess’s birthday as she glumly snaps herself into a garter belt reminded me of the last gasp of every failing relationship I’ve ever been in. I think she speaks for all women who’ve opened a gift that was, umm, not exactly for them when she says, “Just once I could go for a sweater or some earrings, you know? A present I could actually wear outside of this apartment.”

7. Kevin Spacey is perfectly cast as Bob from Arbitrage, kicking his little man-boy legs in the limo as he does a bump of coke.

8. Tess gets her revenge on her boss by typing “David Lutz is a sleazoid pimp with a tiny little dick” on the jumbo crawl-screen in their office, a fantasy scenario for anyone who’s ever worked for sexist pigs.

9. The three other working women in the movie—Joan Cusack as the best friend, Olympia Dukakis as the HR manager and Sigourney Weaver as the ice-queen boss—encapsulate three approaches to entrenched sexism in the workplace: Joan Cusack is “know your place and don’t hope for much” when she says, “Sometimes I sing and dance around the house in my underwear. Doesn’t make me Madonna.” Olympia Dukakis is all “go along to get ahead”: She tells Tess that you don’t succeed in this world by calling your boss a pimp. And Sigourney Weaver is the ball-busting, backstabbing bitch. All legitimate if necessarily flawed paths. Tess forges a fourth path, which is, er, living a double life as an imposter.


11. Tess finds a dress in Catherine’s closet that costs $6,000. In 1988 I thought, Someday I will have a dress that costs $6,000. In 2015 I thought, Can you put Shout on a $6,000 dress? Because I would spill marinara on that in a hot second.

12. This is what Joan Cusack thinks about it: “Six thousand dollars! It’s not even leather!”

13. I wish I had “Valium, in the convenient economy size,” and a few shots of tequila after I put the kids to bed.

14. I wish I had Harrison Ford with his shirt off after I put the kids to bed.

15. Catherine, for all her nasty underhandedness, has this right: “Never burn bridges. Today’s junior prick, tomorrow’s senior partner.”

16. Ricki Lake is one of the bridesmaids in the wedding! Must watch Hairspray now.

17. David Duchovny is one of the birthday party guests! Must watch X-Files now.

18. When Tess says, “I have a head for business and a bod for sin. Is there anything wrong with that?” I cringe a little, because who says that? But okay, I can go with it. I think Tess reads romance novels in her spare time.

19. Harrison Ford carries Melanie Griffith up the stairs to his apartment, and she’s a tall woman. Be still, my heart.

20. Joan Cusack is the best person in a movie with a lot of good people in it: “Can I get you anything, Mr. Trainor? Coffee, tea, me?”

21. I love that Jack lets Tess take the lead on the crashing-the-wedding shenanigans. He’s been in a bit of a slump, after all. While, sure, he’s a little alarmed (“You’re like one of those crazed cops, aren’t you? The kind no one wants to ride with because his partners all end up dead or crazy”), he’s going to run with it. Even if it means hiding in the women’s room during a South Pacific-themed wedding and reassuring the bride that it is not a tacky nightmare.

22. Chris de Burgh sings “Lady in Red” at the engagement party. Download. Because sometimes I want to cry in the bathtub while doing an apricot scrub, just like in eighth grade.

23. And finally—back to Harrison Ford—on Tess’s first day of work, he packs her lunch for her in an old tin lunch box, complete with an apple and freshly sharpened pencils.

24. And then, she lays out how things will work with her new secretary (“I don’t expect you to get me coffee unless you’re getting some for yourself”), and pretty much all structural barriers to women succeeding in the workforce disappear.

25. Right?

This article was originally published on