THE RETAIL MANAGER/ASSISTANT MANAGER WHO IS WAY TOO INTO HIS JOB
Hey! Are you a screenwriter, struggling to emphasize how Important your protagonist is in the grand scheme of things? Then you need a gung-ho retail manager (or assistant manager). Nothing illustrates importance like somebody who’s really into retail, because retail, as we all know, isn’t important at all. Your protagonist has so much more to worry about than weekly sales targets or the new discounting initiative!
I would like to stress I’m not calling retail work an awesome life calling or anything, because mostly it isn’t. But the Gung-Ho Retail Manager/Assistant Manager is particularly grating every time they show up, because in real life, they do not exist. There are retail managers who are serious about their job, of course, but they are mostly people who are desperately afraid of getting fired: sole providers, single parents, people working their ass off to pay down debt. There are also retail managers who genuinely enjoy the service aspect of retail, helping people find the product and/or service they need.
However, in real life, there are practically no retail managers or assistant managers who use war metaphors to describe the retail struggle. There are honestly precious few retail managers or assistant managers who will hold up their MANAGER tag and say “you need to have heart to get this.” The vast majority of actual retail managers and assistant managers do not particularly consider their job a calling or of any great importance at all.
But on TV and in movies, just about every retail manager and assistant manager is a self-absorbed, self-important dickface. It’s terminal laziness, a shortcut of the most annoying type – especially when you know the annoying dickface is just going to be a one-episode appearance to remind us all how Comparatively Important the protagonist’s struggle is. (That we have already seen a gung-ho manager show up on the season premiere of Heroes should surprise absolutely nobody, considering “let’s take a lazy shortcut” is part and parcel of that show’s plotting style.) There’s also a dickface assistant manager wannabe on Chuck, but that guy actually has a role for the entire season so maybe they’ll develop him a bit beyond being the butt of “hah this guy is so dumb he thinks he and/or his career is special” jokes.
To sum up: if, in the process of writing your show’s pilot, you have your character encounter/work for an egotistical jackoff retail manager/assistant manager, please spare us all some grief and write in some other character instead.How about a fanatical dogcatcher? We haven’t seen a fanatical dogcatcher in years.