Anatomy Of A Decade

Reality Check

Prime-time Takes On Entrepreneurship.

By Debra Phillips

They're not entrepreneurs, but they play them on television. Although doctors and lawyers continue to proliferate in prime time, small-business owners aren't completely left out of the limelight. In fact, NBC's "Veronica's Closet"--the new Thursday-night sitcom that's arguably the most highly touted of the 1997-98 season--revolves around a character who operates her own mail order lingerie company. Laughs aside, just how true-to-life is this entrepreneurial portrayal?

As played by the comedically gifted actress Kirstie Alley, Veronica appears to be more preoccupied with herself than with her business. Funny? Yes. Realistic? Not very. How many business owners, after all, halt staff meetings in order to deal with marital crises? And how many business owners are under media scrutiny so intense as to warrant a staged reconciliation with their estranged spouse?

For a more realistic TV take on owning a business, check out Fox's "Party of Five" on Wednesday nights. In this veteran drama series, motorcycle shop entrepreneur Griffin is seen wrestling with such issues as cash flow problems and customers who don't pay their bills. Does it not sound entertaining? Trust us, it is. Just don't blame us if Griffin's travails get your stomach churning in empathy.

And the believability meter reads . . . "Veronica's Closet": There's no business like this show's business. "Party Of Five": Watch--but keep the antacid bottle close by.

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This article was originally published in the December 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Anatomy Of A Decade.

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