How well does TV reflect the U.S. workforce? Contrary to what you see on the tube, most Americans don't practice law, medicine, or forensic science

By Rob Medich
October 18, 2002 at 04:00 AM EDT
Gilmore Girls: Lance Staedler

Seems like everybody on TV is a cop, doc, or lawyer. ”People are fascinated by the law,” notes ”The Practice” counselor Camryn Manheim. ”Will & Grace” attorney Eric McCormack doesn’t object: ”I don’t think a plumbing show would fly.” But compare prime time’s 431 gainfully employed regulars with breakdowns of the U.S. workforce (based on federal stats). Here’s how it really works. (Additional reporting by William Keck)

KEY:

In reality

MEDICAL WORKERS

12.1% (on TV)

 

0.9% (in reality)

EXECUTIVES/MANAGERS

6.4%

 

31.0%

SALESPEOPLE

2.6%

 

11.8%

POLICE

11.4%

 

0.9%

MEDIA PEOPLE

8.3%

 

0.3%

FORENSICS SPECIALISTS

4.5%

 

0.1%*

LAWYERS

8.3%

 

0.7%

SPACE TRAVELERS

5.9%

 

0.0001%

SECRET AGENTS

1.8%

 

UNKNOWN

*based on industry estimates

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