Accountants on TV

Accountants are taking over the small screen! Here are some of our favourite accountant TV characters, past and present.

Life is pretty good for accountants. Solid pay, job stability, and social prestige are just several of the perks enjoyed by accounting professionals in Canada.

Still, do you ever find yourself gazing wistfully at popular culture’s profusion of heroic lawyers, doctors, firefighters and police officers? Ever wish you’d picked a slightly sexier field?

Mainstream television certainly hasn’t placed accountants in the limelight; they’re not usually depicted as heroes in the traditional sense. But prime-time TV hasn’t outright neglected the profession, either. Even if you are disillusioned with how your number-crunching counterparts are portrayed to the masses, take heart in the knowledge that accountant characters are out there. Accountants may not be the superheroes of film and television, and they may not always occupy the hippest roles, but in their own quiet way, they are making a name for themselves.

Here are our five favourite accountants to have graced the small screen:

Jim Walsh, Beverly Hills, 90210

Staid, conservative, and overprotective, it’s tempting to dismiss Jim Walsh, father of the original 90210 series’ protagonists Brenda and Brandon, with an affectionately whiny, “Aw, c’mon Daad!”  But deep down, we all know Jim only ever acted with his family’s best interests at heart.

Accountants may not be the superheroes of film and television, and they may not always occupy the hippest roles, but in their own quiet way, they are making a name for themselves.

He worked hard as a financial accountant to provide for his kids, and there’s no doubt that his strong work ethic and steadfast moral code helped keep the twins grounded amid Beverly Hills’ rampant materialism and shady values. Also, as trustee to wayward heartthrob – and his daughter’s sometimes beau – Dylan McKay, Walsh did his best to protect the independently wealthy teen from financial ruin at the hands of his duplicitous, white-collar criminal father.

Oscar Martinez, The Office

Despite having to endure constant embarrassment and invasions of privacy from boss Michael Scott (as when, for example, the latter outs him to the entire office), Dunder Mifflin’s accountant Oscar always keeps an even keel. Soft-spoken and intellectual, he is a founding member of the company’s elite “Finer Things Club,” showing that he’s both cultured and well-rounded.

Skyler White, Breaking Bad

The wife of the AMC series’ protagonist Walter White, Skyler is a divisive, deeply nuanced character. Say what you will about her, but contrary to the usual TV stereotypes of accountants, she’s extremely interesting.  After a stint as a fiction writer, Skyler works as a bookkeeper at the (ultimately corrupt) company, Beneke Fabricators, and later, assists the drug-dealing Walt with his finances. So okay, she’s not exactly a role model – but the woman sure knows her way around a financial statement!

Ben Wyatt, Parks and Recreation

A state auditor who arrives in the show’s fictional town of Pawnee during its second season to assess the state of municipal funds, the handsome and likable Ben is quickly upgraded to a regular character in season three.

On the whole, accountants don’t feature heavily in television, and when they do, they’re often peripheral, less exciting characters.  Still…they do exist.

Less quirky than the other Parks and Rec. department crew, Ben (who is boyfriend to Leslie, played by Amy Poehler) sometimes gets a bad rap for being dorky. This said, his commitment to his work is endearing, and the tense, “will they or won’t they” lead-up to Ben and Leslie’s love affair lends him definite sex appeal.

 

Doug Wilson, Weeds

High-spirited and hedonistic, Doug starts out as a run-of-the mill accountant, albeit one possessing a number of unsavoury habits; in a word, he’s a philandering pothead. Early on, Doug becomes an accomplice to the show’s drug-dealing main character, Nancy, helping her set up a sham bakery and providing financial advice for her money laundering activities. He certainly gets his comeuppance, though; as his personal and professional life unravels, it’s ultimately implied that he loses his CPA license.

On the whole, accountants don’t feature heavily in television, and when they do, they’re often peripheral, less exciting characters.  Still, as we can see from this roll call, they do exist. Let’s hope further examples emerge on the small and silver screens, to bust the stereotypes of accountants for the sake of our collective entertainment.

Let us know what you think! At Clarity Recruitment, we’re always interested in hearing from accounting and finance professionals like yourselves, who are ready for new, exciting opportunities that can take their careers to the next level. And be sure to follow us on Twitter (@clarityrecruits) and connect with us on Facebook for more great tips and advice!