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A Work Com about Maya Gallo, a highly qualified but difficult-to-work-with journalist, who, after alienating one news anchor too many, is forced to take a job with the trashy Cosmopolitan-esque fashion magazine run by her estranged father. Originally focusing on the father-daughter bonds, it quickly became a workplace ensemble piece with supporting characters Finch (the dad's personal assistant) and Nina (an ex-model turned writer for the magazine) taking over as the main characters of the series.
Notably predated Ugly Betty (as well as Yo Soy Betty, la Fea) and The Devil Wears Prada with the premise of a non-materialistic woman working for a shallow magazine. Was ultimately canceled due to Executive Meddling and being bounced around the schedule.
- Adam Westing/As Himself: Ray Liotta as Kevin's cousin.
- Mark Hamill shows up as...Mark Hamill. Fanboy Finch drives him nuts with endless questions about the Star Wars movies.
- Aesop Amnesia: Maya repeatedly learned that she was subject to the same foibles as everyone else. Then completely forgot this lesson by the next episode.
- All Asians Are Alike: Eliot drives away an advertiser by mistaking him for a Chinese food delivery guy.
"I AM JAPANESE!!"
- Ambiguously Jewish: Jack exhibits a lot of New York Jewish mannerisms. This leads to Unfortunate Implications, what with the whole "Jews control the media" thing. Finch even lampshades this (paraphrased):
Finch: Look, we were WASPs. I didn't have that whole Jewish, Italian, or whatever you guys have going on.
- Jack Gallo is in fact half Jewish, as told in one episode. There are many Jewish managers in the fashion media world.
- Benevolent Boss / Pointy-Haired Boss: Jack vacillates between the two. A flashback episode reveals that each of the main characters were hitting Rock Bottom before Jack discovered their talents.
- Berserk Button: Eliot doesn't react well when you criticize his work
- Big Breasts, Big Deal: Laura San Giacomo is at least a natural Double-D in Real Life. Maya often wore baggy clothes, and was often teased by Finch for this.
- Bigger Is Better in Bed: Subverted with Finch, who happens to be unusually well-endowed, but is such a sicko that no woman will give him the time of day (to the immense relief of his male co-workers).
Jack: It's a story as old as time. Great product, bad sales department.
- Book Dumb: Nina.
- Breakout Character: Dennis Finch.
- British Rock Star
- But I Would Really Enjoy It
- Butt Monkey: Originally defined by his womanizing, Eliot gradually morphs into the show's punching bag.
- Nina is often the victim of a conspiracy by Eliot and Finch to make a fool of her. Often these attempts backfire and Nina (usually unwittingly) comes out on top.
- The Casanova: Eliot, but Finch later becomes one, often at inopportune times.
- Chekhov's Ashes: In "Bye Bye, Binnie". Nina carries around the urn of her best friend's ashes, acting as if she were still alive. One morning she finds the urn empty and realizes that putting it in the mechanical bull at a bar was maybe not the best idea.
- Chubby Chaser: Maya inadvertently dates a guy who is stealthily trying to make her gain weight. Once the jig is up, the boyfriend tries to entice Maya with promises of never having to diet again (which humorously causes Maya to rethink it for a second). "OK, fifty pounds and I'll buy the stretch pants!"
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Maya's roommate, Wally, who disappeared after the first seven episodes.
- Cool Big Sis: Nina would sometimes play this role to Maya and/or Finch.
- Creator Breakdown: In one episode, Maya dates the puppeteer behind a popular children's show. A panda Expy of Maya soon appears and each real-life date is somehow reflected on the show (such as the panda hogging all of the pizza). It gets so out of hand that Maya assaults him on live television.
- Cross Dresser: Nina spends en entire episode fretting about the auction of her famous bikini, which a Japanese businessman wants to turn into a museum piece. At the end, we see the businessman dressed in her bikini while dancing to disco music.
- Deadpan Snarker: David Spade's Dennis Finch.
- Did You See That Too?
- Distracted by the Sexy: Various men around Nina. She does it on purpose.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?
- Don't Look At Me: Finch, when he cries over King Lear.
- Dude Not Ironic: In "When Nina Met Elliot", after Nina realizes that she was the one who ran Elliot over that day he was going to propose to her girlfriend, the following exchange occurs:
Nina: You know what's ironic? The same day I ran Elliot down, is the same day I ruined his life forever.
- Embarrassing Middle Name: Dennis Quimby Finch. He lied that it was Eastwood to his wife, and after she knew the truth he still lies about it being "Irish for brave warrior."
- Erotic Dream
- Escalating War
- Expansion Pack Past: Nina. A seperate page would be required to list all the examples.
- Fan Service: The Blush covers that are shown between scenes.
- Fawlty Towers Plot: A lot of episodes were like this. Finch fixes everything, since he's the world's greatest assistant.
- Fur and Loathing: Parodied a few times.
- Fur Bikini: Nina wore a leopard skin bikini years before, and is still proud of the accidents the billboards caused.
- The Ghost: Nina's friend Binnie.
- Glory Days: Nina and Jack sometimes lament their best times.
- Good Angel, Bad Angel: Subverted. Finch wouldn't get a good angel.
- Grandma, What Massive Hotness You Have!: Nina often sleeps with men half her age. She is a former supermodel, after all.
- Truth in Television: Many men half her age want to sleep with Wendy Malick.
- Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow: Elliot, in a flashback to his fateful meeting with Jack.
Jack: I know hair, and that flock of yours isn't going anywhere!
- Hollywood Homely: In-universe, Maya in the first season. Afterwards, the writers realized how foolish an idea this was.
- Even so, they were still able to get mileage out of the general idea, since Maya is the Wrong Kind Of Pretty in the world of fashion.
- Hot Librarian: Maya. Schwing!
- How the Character Stole Christmas: Finch, of course.
- Hypocritical Humor: Jack waxes poetic about how people are like snow cones - we're all made of the same stuff, but underneath the syrup, "we're all equally delicious!"
Eliot: --But blue's the best.
- I Was Quite a Looker: Nina's legendary bikini billboard is reported to have caused many a car pileup.
- Imagined Innuendo
- Immune to Drugs: Nina, seemingly.
- Inflation Negation: An episode had a landlady who was apparently so far behind the times that she charged ridiculously low prices for her apartments, resulting in her tenants doing all her shopping for her to prevent her from catching on. At the end, it turned out that she was secretly in on it.
- Intoxication Ensues: Lemon Wacky Hello was the former Trope Namer.
- I Thought Everyone Could Do That!: Finch.
- It's a Costume Party, I Swear: Maya is tricked into dressing up for Halloween, when no one else was.
- Kavorka Man: Finch. Elliot, depending on how attractive you consider him to be.
- Lady Drunk: Nina
- Leno Device
- The Loins Sleep Tonight: Eliot gets this once, when he tries to deny the fact that he and Maya accidentally got married.
- The Masochism Tango: "You're calling from the cage, aren't you?"
- Manly Tears: Finch in reaction to King Lear. "Don't look at me!"
- When Finch, Eliot, and Jack watch Brians Song.
- Massive Multiplayer Scam: When Finch wanted to show Maya how to pull off real pranks.
- May-December Romance: Jack has a habit of this. Fortunately, he goes after legal aged girls.
- Mistaken for Gay: Finch's old-fashioned firefighting father concludes that Dennis is gay and makes an embarassing show of acceptance. It's with some discomfort that he realizes that while Dennis is straight, one of his more traditionally masculine brothers isn't.
- He was even mistaken for lesbian by a gay woman.
- Mondegreen: Nina and Elliot get into an argument about whether the lyrics of their favourite blues song are "Stone for my pillow" (because the singer is sleeping in the street) or "Slow, foamy killer" (referring to malt liquor). Finch later tries to convince them that is "Stone cold armadillo", but he's just messing with them.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: The original pitch for the series was Janeane Garofalo getting stuck in a waiting room with a model with whom she has nothing in common. Garofalo later became the template for Maya's character.
- Nobody Loves the Bassist: In one episode, Nina keeps reminiscing about the "magical weekend" she once spent with the lead singer of a famous rock band. When she discovers that she actually slept with the bassist, she is horrified.
- Not So Above It All: Maya, from falling for a guy based on appearance, to wearing a "Fairy Princess" dress for Halloween.
- Obfuscating Disability: Elliot's brother Donnie pretended to be mentally retarded since he graduated from high school to avoid responsibility
- Obfuscating Stupidity: What "Slow" Donnie does.
- Out with a Bang: Of a sort — Nina sent a man into cardiac arrest by flashing him.
- Paintball Episode
- Pet the Dog
- Pimped-Out Dress: Maya wears one, wearing a pink fairy princess dress, when she thinks everyone else is dressing up for Halloween.
- Puppy Dog Eyes: Maya attempts to do this to Finch, but it doesn't work.
[Maya makes the Puss-In-Boots eyes]
- Retool: A minor tweaking in the final season, including the addition of a new female character, Vicki.
- Really Gets Around: Nina.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Money: Jack uses his vast influence to blacklist Eliot, rendering him unable to order a drink at the bar or even hail a cab - all because Eliot wouldn't give up his last éclair. Eliot at last agrees to fork over the dessert, but not before scrubbing it with his tongue.
- Sexy Coat Flashing: A model does this to Finch when they are dating.
- Shout-Out: Jack comments on firing his previous limo driver, who kept mumbling "Someday a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets."
- Soapbox Sadie: Maya. Often leading to Hypocritical Humor on her part.
- Something's Different About You Now
- Super Senses: Finch has "an ear for certain words"; like "nude", or "g-string". He's capable of hearing them from literally miles away.
- Theme Tune
- Too Kinky to Torture
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Finch mistakingly gets married to supermodel Rebecca Romijn during a mass wedding.
- Unwanted Gift Plot: In one episode, Finch has to try to get rid of a handmade vase Jack gave him.
- Welcome Episode
- While You Were in Diapers: Nina tries this on a younger model, but the model wasn't even born then, and Nina freaks out.
- Whole-Plot Reference:
- Will They or Won't They?:
- Eliot and Maya for a few seasons. Before the writers realized no one cared, and a romance didn't gel with the Comedic Sociopathy of the show. As such, Eliot promptly has a panic attack as soon as he proposes to Maya, and that's the end of that.
- Finch and Nina for one episode.