Behind the Scenes: The Reality of Jobs in Movies


Hollywood seems to have a vendetta with the truth. With every opportunity, Hollywood misrepresents the truth, and then the truth looks like an asshole for not living up to people’s expectations. I mean who hasn’t gotten a job in the construction industry in the hopes that they will develop an exquisite hard-body only to find out that losing a pot belly involves a lot more than flannel shirts, sledge-hammers and hard-hats. Oh. I’m really the only one? None the less Hollywood misrepresents what most jobs entail; from the most mundane to the most exciting here are a few jobs that are very different in real life.

See Also: Darkest Desires that Everyone Tries to Hide

Forensic Scientist

Seen here with realistic neck tattoo!


The Lie: As seen in CSI Everywhere, Dexter, Bones

A heinous crime is committed, a bunch of really hot people make goofy one-liners at the crime scene, then they retire to their high tech fancy labs (which seem to share the same interior designer considering their predilection for blue lights and frosted glass cabinets) and solve the crime. Rinse and repeat weekly or bi-weekly if the episode is over thirty minutes long.

The Truth

Seen here with a more realistic lack of neck tattoos


First let’s talk about the timeline; in real life it usually takes people longer to have a bowel movement than these guys dedicate to solving a crime. I understand that it’s a narrative tool to cut together the more “significant” moments of the investigation, because nobody wants to see the digital forensics guy scratching himself inappropriately for 10 minutes an episode (or do they?). None the less most shows/movies make it seem like any crime can be solved in the period of a short few days.

Also, you’ll rarely see the same people at the crime scene, the lab, the morgue, the arrest and the courthouse. These jobs are segmented. The crime scene investigator will be the one sweeping the crime scene (adhering to very, very strict protocols and regulations). The forensic scientist will seldom (see never) visit a crime scene. A law enforcement person will enact the arrest, and a lawyer will deal with the criminal in court. Even forensic scientists are separated into specialties such as entomologist, toxicologists, dentists and even engineers. There is also a discernable lack of gym bodies, tailored pants and shirts in law enforcement and forensics. They are just not that sexy and you are going to have to deal with that ugly reality my friend.


See sexy coroner with flowers (that would most definitely not be allowed in a normal morgue)


The Lie: Also as seen in: CSI Everywhere Unit Something or Other, Dexter, Bones and other Cop Dramas

First off they’re not even called Coroners, but Medical Examiners, which sounds a lot less cool. Second most Coroners in shows and movies are presented as these comically quirky and dark people that do their job joyfully. And you can usually expect either a very matter of fact monotone speaking person or someone wearing various punk/emo/goth regalia long after the age they should be wearing said regalia.

The Truth

The much more real version


Medical examiners are human beings that are not impervious to the fact their job deals with the most tragic and emotional event that we humans can experience. Furthermore, sometimes they’re not even doctors, but a funeral director (yes which Hollywood will usually represent as a humorously creepy, usually super skinny John Waters caricature) will be a stand-in for a medical examiner, because the district won’t have the funds to hire a pathologist (which are primarily the field coroners come from, also doctors are freakin’ expensive).

If you’re betting for a 9-5 because your favorite crime drama airs at the same time ever day, you’re in for a surprise. Death happens at all hours of the day (and night) and when it does you’ll have to go to your workplace promptly because no matter how gruesome it sounds, the reality is you are dealing with perishable “items”. But don’t worry! That fact won’t be lost on you when you get a noseful/mouthful of the stench of death and decay (which I’d like to add, most animals and humans are biologically programmed to have a violent involuntary reaction to: see gagging, eyes watering, even shaking, I said most we all know about carrion-eaters, and no one likes a smart-ass). The emotional strain can be extremely high, especially in cases involving children, which Hollywood won’t even touch with a ten foot pole.

Detectives/Law Enforcement/Undercover Law Enforcement

Dude you can’t use the victim’s phone to product place during a murder investigation.


The Lie: This is Hollywood’s Golden Goose, go-to kid, we have seen this profession featured in The Wire, Sherlock Holmes, CSI Everything and Everywhere, Dragnet (look it up), Inspector Gadget, Training Day, The Departed, Reservoir Dogs and many, many, many, many more.

It seems like every time a screenplay comes across a Hollywood Big Wig Fat Cat’s desk he immediately asks: “Does it have a detective? No?!! How about an Undercover Agent?!! NO?!!! Why the hell is this piece of crap on my desk then!!!!” The reason is people love (and pay good money for) movies that have car chases, explosions and shooting. The reality is a little less shooty, bang-bangy though.

The Truth

No as glamorous huh?


Not that a detective’s/undercover/ law enforcement officer’s job isn’t exciting or dangerous, but it involves a lot of supervising of other people, talking to witnesses, tons of paperwork and a lot of looking at surveillance videos. The days can be long and the working hours inconsistent, if there is a murder for example at 3 a.m. the law enforcement person will need to be there immediately presumably still rubbing his dark circle encapsulated eyes.

Also, if you think that you are going to deliver a cheesy one liner at the crime scene while pensively taking off your sunglasses and solve a case later that day, you’d be mistaken. According to an L.A.P.D. homicide detective, Christopher Barling, 60-70% of cases are solved, but only 30-40% are actually solved in the calendar year they were committed. So it’s much more of a marathon than a sprint. Or a half hour episode interspersed with commercials hawking artery clogging fast food. Although I’m sure real world law enforcement professionals would really enjoy catering truck breaks while a random business suit wearing guy (or Busta Rhymes) tried to pawn off his brand of economy mini-van.tried to pawn off his brand of economy mini-van.

See Also: 6 Amazing Inventions of 2015

Are there any other professions that have been glamorized and overinflated by Hollywood’s vendetta against truth? Let me know in the comment section below.