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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Better Off Ted Gets Employment Contract Right, Hilariously

Better Off Ted is consistently one of the funniest shows on TV. They skewer a fictional company, Veridian, that cares only about profits at the expense of its employees. In the latest episode The Lawyer, The Lemur, and the Little Listener they got a couple things so right it made me howl.

First, they got the way some companies treat fired employees right, then they kicked it up a notch. I’ve had hundreds of clients come to me over the years describing that they were called into the Human Resources office, presented with termination papers, and escorted out. They weren’t allowed to go back to their offices to pack. Instead, while they were whisked away to HR, their belongings were packed for them and waiting when they left. They had to do the walk of shame in front of everyone and felt like criminals while they were marched out with an escort. Better Off Ted created a company Extraction Team. Instead of packing up while the employee was out of the office, the Extraction Team packed the office, picked up the employee from their chair, and painted the empty office the moment they left. The writers took an all-too-true sad situation and made comedy.

My favorite part, though, was when an employee dreaming of escape wrote a children’s book. (I won’t go into how wrong they got the publishing industry or the children’s book market, because it was still funny). The company scientists pointed out that she had signed a contract giving the company rights to anything she created while she worked there. And that’s exactly what happens. People laugh at me when I ask them, before they sign, whether they write novels or songs, design games, paint, or do anything else creative. The horrid truth is that greedy companies will try to take your work if you’re not careful. I won’t tell you how the writers twisted the story in an unexpected way – rush to your TiVos and try to pick it up on reruns, or watch it online here: http://abc.go.com/watch/better-off-ted/187472/244404/the-lawyer-the-lemur-and-the-little-listener .

This is a great example of how writers got the law right and used it to make the story better. In the law, truth is almost always stranger than fiction.

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