One of the things we will be watching for in this film is the social phenomenon of marked and unmarked categories of identity, and the ways in which normative identities are the foundations of those "marked" categories. Pay attention to ways in which "difference" is represented in the film.
2) What is class? Is it an economic status, or is it a culture?
3 How do her male bosses treat Tess? How does Katharine treat Tess?
4) How does Tess make decisions? Does she follow her intution? Does she act as a consumer? Is her decision-making process like that of Katharine? Like the male executives around her? Like Jack's, or like Mick's? Are the ways in which her decision-making processes are different from the normative ones around her a strength or a weakness?
5) How does Nick treat Tess? Why does he treat her this way? Does his way of treating her change at any point? Why?
6) How do people respond to Tess's anger? How do they respond to Katharine's? Why is this response different?
7) How does Katharine interact with men, socially and professionally? How does Tess? What marks Katharine as a "feminist"?
8) How does Mick respond to Tess's enthusiasm about finally getting a female boss?
9) What is the function served by the many moments when Tess is told to "get her priorities straight or else," such as the scene with Olivia Dukakis, the scene where Cyn tells her, "sometimes I dance around in my underwear; that don't make me Madonna," or Tess's breakup with Mick? What do these scenes reveal about the film's views of differing priorities of women of differing classes?
10) What is the meaning of the making of an analogy between Tess's merger deal and the anecdote about a child pointing out how to get the truck out of the tunnel?
11) What is the significance of the scene near the end of the film, when Tess and Jack both get ready for work together?
12) What is Tess like as a boss? What has she learned from her experiences? Is Tess a feminist?
Roger Ebert's Review of Working Girl from the Chicago Sun-Times, 21 December 1988.
Desson Howe's review of Working Girl from the Washington Post, 23 December 1988.
Rita Kempley's review of Working Girl from the Washington Post, 21 December 1988.
The University of Alberta's Film Studies Resources on the Internet pages offer a heap of resources.
Women in Cinema, a reference guide to Women's resources and readings on women in film.
Prepared by Professor Catherine Lavender for History 182 (Women's History and Feminist Theory), The Department of History, The College of Staten Island of The City University of New York.
Last modified: Wednesday 11 March 1998.