She is leading the decidedly unglamourous life of a law firm junior associate. She has an unreasonable boss who is both demanding and belittling. She and a colleague are envious of a co-worker’s 167 billable hour week. And when she leaves work to attend a to a non-life-threatening family crisis, her job is threatened by said unreasonable boss. It is so bad that even a bystander with a head of half-straightened, half-frizzy hair knows that Jenna’s life sucks.
Sure, a lot of the specifics are overblown in the way that broad spectrum network sitcoms tend to be. There is even a scene where an associate is actually dancing like a trained poodle for the entertainment of a partner. But there are also things that ring true for Biglaw survivors. The sense of desperation when asked to perform tasks beyond their experience, the sinking feeling that all of your time is being sucked into this job that you not-so-secretly hate, and the dawning realization that your life is spiraling away from you.
For those of you who are interested in seeing how your job is turned into a caricature by NBC over the long term… well, you aren’t in luck. About halfway through the pilot, Jenna quits Biglaw in epic fashion, exposing the chronic overbilling of a partner on her way out the door, in order to run her family’s struggling law firm (and no, that doesn’t count as a spoiler — it is the entire premise of the television show). But it is kinda satisfying to see the reality of Biglaw life twisted into shorthand for a miserable, on-the-brink-of-losing-it existence. If you’re into that kind of thing.
The remainder of the season will focus on Jenna learning the ropes as a solo practitioner with the help of her oh-so-wacky family (who are also apparently partners/owners in the practice, even though none of them are lawyers, ethics be damned). This, of course, veers much closer to the sort of typical tv lawyer fare, as the wide-eyed Jenna will likely be very earnest in her attempts to help the little guy (foreshadowed clumsily by the fact that the firm is struggling because her late father took on too many pro bono cases).