It’s a Living really messed with my expectations of what it’s like to work in the food service industry. When I rolled up at Sam’s Seafood to begin my first day of work in 1998, I was disappointed to learn there was no elegant lounge for the wait staff. I never became BFFs with my fellow servers either. We didn’t stride through the entrance arm-in-arm wearing awesome scrunch boots while a thrilling Broadway-style number underscored our arrival to work. No, I had to park my Jeep in the staff parking area (much less desirable than the area designated for patrons) and make the bleak walk to the back entrance all by my lonesome, clad in the requisite Hawaiian shirt and white sneaks. I wanted Ann Jillian. Instead I got Janis, a 50ish burn-out who worked 60 hours a week to support her pothead husband and claimed that she knew Elia Kazan (who wanted to make a movie about her life, natch). It’s a Living.
PS. Fun fact: It’s a Living premiered in 1980 for a short season, then they changed the title to Making a Living, aired another season and then went off the air after an unsuccessful run. THEN they came back like three years later with the original title and ran for four more years!