11 Things Dolly Parton Taught Us in '9 to 5'
Enter Doralee Rhodes.
9 to 5 is the workplace comedy that brought together the incomparable Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, and Dolly Parton as co-workers determined to make their workplace a better place, and bring down their “sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot” boss, Franklin Hart, Jr., played by Dabney Coleman.
The film is notable for many reasons, including that it helped Parton graduate from country music legend to bona fide movie star. In her debut role, Parton played Doralee Rhodes, a kind-hearted secretary reduced to fantasizing about roasting her boss on a spit after months of sexual harassment. Fonda played the mousey Judy Bernly, a newly divorced woman just starting out in the workplace, while Tomlin’s Violet Newstead was a determined working widow and mother of four, who would be running the company save for her boss’s chauvinistic tendencies.
Plus, the film has the greatest theme music ever, provided by Parton, of course. As Dolly herself said, “9 to 5 the Musical is perfect for anyone that's ever wanted to string up their boss, which is almost all of us.” The film was a farce, but it was one that taught women (and open-minded men) a lot about friendships in and out of the office.
Here are 11 things Dolly Parton taught us in 9 to 5:
1. Trust Other Women
When Violet tells Doralee that their boss has been telling everyone that they’ve been having an affair, Doralee instantly and vehemently denies it. Violet and Judy quickly realize that they’ve been had once again by Hart, and trusted his sleazy story. They quickly change their tune and supported Doralee.
2. Confront Your Problems Head On
The minute that Doralee found out her sleazy boss had told the entire office that he was having an affair with her, she didn’t waste a single minute fretting about it. Instead, she instantly confronted him. “Look I've been straight with you since the first day I got here, and I've put up with all of your pinchin' and starin' and chasin' me around the desk because I need this job. But this is the last straw!” she said, not beating around the bush at all.
3. Always Stand Up for Yourself
Like many of us, Doralee was raised to forgive those who trespass against her, but when it came to her lying boss spreading rumors about her around the office, enough was enough. “Up until now I've been forgiving and forgetting because of the way I was brought up,” she said. “But I'll tell you one thing. If you ever say another word about me or make another indecent proposal, I'm going get that gun of mine, and I'm gonna change you from a rooster to a hen with one shot! And don't think I can't do it.” Standing up for yourself can be hard for people, but it’s the fastest way to get the job done.
4. Sometimes You Just Need a Drink with Your Friends
When Violet gets passed over for promotion, she storms out of the office and Doralee and Judy go with her. They cement their friendship over a round (or three) of drinks at the bar, wiling away the hours with some good old fashioned gossip, shared complaints, and fantasies of getting even or getting rid of their lousy boss.
5. Turnabout is Fair Play (at Least in Fantasies)
When Doralee finds out that Hart has been telling the entire office that they were having an affair, she gave him an earful—and then started her revenge fantasies. In her daydream (or perhaps nightmare?) she made Hart her secretary and made sure he knew who was the boss. “Forget about your wife! I mean, you may be hers in the evening, but you're my boy from 9 to 5!” An active imagination is always a good thing.
6. Stand by Your Friends
When Violet mistakenly poured rat poison into Hart’s coffee, she was understandably concerned that she had killed a man and would go to jail. Doralee calmly reassured her that it was simply an accident and she wasn’t a murderer (or a murderess).
7. Always Have Your Friend’s Back
When Violet fears she will be accused of killing Hart, Doralee and Judy leap into action. They take her to the hospital to check on Hart and when they think he’s passed away from Violet’s mistake, they do what they have to do to save her from jail time. It’s important to have friends who will help you out in a pinch—including getting rid of a body as necessary.
8. Sometimes You Need to Call Your Friends on Their Mistakes
When Violet grabs the wrong body from the morgue, Doralee knows it was an honest mistake, but she still called her on it. “You steal the wrong body from the hospital and all you can say is I must have made a mistake?!” she said. “It could happen to anyone,” replied Violet. Doralee did not point out the mix-up to be cruel, but to teach Violet to double-check her work. Hopefully Violet will learn from her mistakes and won’t let it happen again.
9. Commit to Your Plans with Your Friends
When Hart insists that Doralee sleep with him or else he’ll have her and her friends arrested, the women said a hearty no way, no day. Instead they kidnapped him and held him hostage in his own home while they took over the company and implemented women and family friendly programs like equal pay and on-site day care. It was a crazy scheme, but the friends were completely committed to it. Keep that in mind the next time you want to skip your monthly book club meeting.
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10. Be Honest with Your Friends
When Violet is shocked to learn that Hart wants to prosecute the women for their (well-deserved) crimes against him, no matter how well deserved, Doralee can’t help but be honest with her. “Why wouldn't he [prosecute]? He's got you for poisoning him, and me for roping him, and you for acting like he was first prize at a turkey shoot!,” she said, speaking the truth, no matter how hard it was to hear.
11. Follow Your Dreams
Doralee toiled away in the thankless role of secretary for years. To pay the bills she put up with a skeevy boss who harassed her, lied to her, lied about her, and made her feel like nothing but a pencil picker upper in a skirt. That treatment never dampened her self-esteem or stopped her from following her dream of being a country singer.