Posted in Television

The Sandra Bullock Files #6: Working Girl (1990)


The Sandra Bullock Files is a series that looks at the films of Oscar-winning actress Sandra Bullock, all the way from her debut in 1987, to her two major 2018 releases, Ocean’s Eight and Bird Box.

By the turn of the new decade, Sandra had starred in a handful of films but had made hardly a blip on Hollywood’s radar. She needed something more mainstream, more highly publicized, to get her to the next step in her career. Finally, in 1990, Sandra took advantage of a great opportunity and never looked back.

The Mike Nichols directed film Working Girl was one of the big hits of 1988. It starred Harrison Ford, Sigourney Weaver, Alec Baldwin, Joan Cusack, and Oliver Platt, and it gave newcomer Melanie Griffith the best role of her career. It won an Academy Award and was nominated for five more. Clearly this film was a success, and two years later, many involved decided to go ahead not with a sequel, but with a TV sitcom. Of course nobody from the original movie would head over to the show — Ford probably had better things to do — and an entirely new cast was brought on board.

Who did the producers turn to in late 1989 before filming was to commence? They didn’t want a nobody. They wanted a familiar TV face. So they cast The Facts of Life’s Nancy McKeon in the lead role of Tess McGill, a secretary who becomes a junior executive of her company. With a long list of credits dating back fifteen years, McKeon seemed a decent enough choice for the role. But when she dropped out, Sandra took a chance, auditioned, and nabbed the role mere weeks before shooting commenced.

Created by Kimberly Hill and Tom Patchett, the series premiered on NBC on April 16, 1990, with an episode called “Dream On.” A mid-season replacement, Working Girl didn’t get too far. The network only aired nine of its initial twelve episodes and canned the show soon thereafter.

The show intro promises great cheesiness to come. Sandra walks around New York with her big early ’90s frizzy hair, smiling as if she can hear that annoying (Oscar-winning!) background music in her head. She has been known to say that working on this show was one of the worst professional acting experiences of her life.

The best thing that came out of this show was more exposure for Sandra, who finally had a major credit on her resume to get her to her next job. Although her truly big break wouldn’t be for another four years, the Working Girl TV series allowed her to test her skills in a new format — multi-camera television — and make her decide, thankfully, to pursue film instead.

Best Scene: That classic ’90s intro.

Best Line: “Me. Tess McGill from Stanton Island!”

Fun Facts

Working Girl marked Sandra’s only starring role on a TV show.

Episode titles include “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” “Hungry Heart,” and “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” the latter of which was the last episode aired, on July 30, 1990.

The four episodes never aired are titled “Get Back,” “Two’s a Crowd,” “We Can Work It Out,” and “Oh, Brother.”

The series briefly reran on TV Land in the 1990s after Sandra became a major star.

Working Girl has never been released to DVD.

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