Netflix’s Partner Track tackles racism at a corporate law firm, but is watered down by dramatic drama

in some ways, Partner pathAnd the Netflix show Based on the 2013 novel by Helen Wan, trying to make an interesting point. Series focusing on Ingrid Yoon (Arden Cho), a senior fellow trying to become a partner at a New York City law firm, the show provides critical commentary About sexism and racism That women and people of color Pure White, Super Male Spaces.

This focus praised Some for its ability. There are moments when Ingrid’s colleagues take credit for her work, when they are given better tasks simply because they have more social connections with their boss, and when they are promoted for mediocre performance when she is the one who takes the time. In addition to the subtle assaults the show captures, there are outright acts of discrimination it highlights, including a racist stand-up routine performed by a co-worker at a company retreat, the attempt to fire a black employee complaining about it, and the decision to skip Ingrid a partner position in favor of one of her less qualified male counterparts. significantly.

It’s still rare for a TV show to focus the perspective of an Asian American woman, and even more so for viewers to experience prejudices in the workplace through her eyes. Had the show been committed to examining desk asymmetries in a more thoughtful way, it could have been so powerful. Instead, he takes a tepid approach to these issues and places more emphasis on countless other dramas.

in her heart, Partner path Not a harsh look at racist politics and micro-assaults in the office. It’s mostly a glossy TV series about kissing in business suits.

Still, much like his novel of the same name, he tries to say something about the systems in place that prevent women and people of color from advancing in the workplace, and how even those marginalized by these structures are often keen to reinforce them. Partner path He fails to do so effectively because he doesn’t invest enough in that focus and everything else tracks him down.

Partner path He has something to say about inequality in the workplace

Partner pathThe work’s most compelling story, set in motion, involves two main conflicts.

The first is a racist pause routine performed by Dan Fallon (Nolan Gerard Funk), a white male associate in the law firm, during a corporate retreat. Fallon, a gentle and arrogant attorney who generally has reckless feelings, does a set that ridicules the idea of ​​egg fragility.

“Do you remember when we all used to call disclosures ‘opening kimonos’?” Fallon says. “If someone told you it was now racist and sexist, or what I called it, double the spice, and you had to say something like, ‘But my college girlfriend was Japanese,’ it would first be an example, louder to the people in the back: the fragility of white.” .

While many audience members, including Ingrid and her friend Tyler (Bradley Gibson), who is black, freaked out during the performance, most lawyers seem to find Fallon’s comments sad but amusing. In the end, he walked off the stage to laugh and applaud.

Tyler ends up leaving the event, while Ingrid confronts her boss, Marty (Matthew Rauch), who vows to conduct an internal review. Although HR concludes that Dan should be placed on probation, management ultimately decides that he will receive a slap in the wrist because his clients are so valuable to the company.

This conclusion is the breaking point for Tyler, but not Ingrid. In an effort to test her commitment to the company, “Marty” sends Ingrid to offer her friend a $500,000 severance package if he keeps quiet about his concerns. It’s a job that she does despite how wrong she is, and how betrayal their friendship is. And her decision to do so is devastating; A clear illustration of how someone can become complicit in the same regimes that oppress them if they believe that these power structures will eventually reward them. In her own defense, Ingrid frames the decision as “the tough choices that partners have to make.”

Ingrid’s dedication to making partner is also across the line and conflict in the show. In addition to throwing her friend under the bus, Ingrid agrees to chair the company’s Diversity Gala, an event she uses effectively as a prop to improve the company’s image. She’s forced to read a pre-written letter about her being a “proud Asian American attorney” and willing to play down the company’s recent shortcomings.

Separately, her main responsibility is to work on a major energy acquisition deal, which she is working tirelessly to complete, despite knowing it could have devastating environmental consequences.

After the point of running and ensuring that the $2.5 billion deal goes unimpeded, Ingrid and her colleagues widely expect to be named one of three new partners in her division that year. In what seems like a slow-motion horror film moment, it was skipped over when it was announced for Jeff Murphy (Dominic Sherwood), the junior partner on the same project. There is no real logic to this decision as Murphy is repeatedly shown cutting corners in his work and leaving Ingrid to handle the toughest tasks – let alone sleeping with one of the company’s clients. (A later development provides insight into the slight but not sufficient to justify the decision.)

As Wan said, the events she described in the novel, many of which were also included in the TV show, include some that are based on real-life experiences and are meant to raise awareness about systemic problems in white-shoe law firms.

“I haven’t seen any stories being written about believable contemporary stories—specifically about Asian American professionals, not Asian professionals—who were trying to climb the corporate ladder. I didn’t see any realistic images of that,” Wan said in an interview in 2013.

The environment and the lack of diversity in Partner path It is largely a reflection of the actual issues that many law firms have. Only 10 percent of all law firm partners are people of color, according to Survey 2020 by the National Law Placement Association, which also found that Asian American attorneys make up 12 percent of attorneys at the associate level, black attorneys make up 5 percent, and Hispanic attorneys make up 6 percent, with the latter two groups Being particularly underrepresented. White lawyers are more than twice as likely to be hired as members of other racial groups, According to the American Bar Association. The work culture in law firms has also been invoked because of its hostility to women and people of color, who can be coded into projects or Giving less prominent tasks.

Ingrid’s failure to be promoted to a partner also speaks specifically about the barriers to advancement Asian Americans have faced in the workforce, a phenomenon he has dubbed “bamboo ceiling. ” according to Harvard business review piece According to business executives Pak Ji and Dennis Beck, Asian Americans are the group least likely to be promoted to management. “They’re more than 10 percent of top 30 law school graduates—yet they’ve the highest attrition rates and lowest partner-to-associate ratio of all.” [racial] groups,” they write. Overall, Asian Americans make up 13 percent of the professional workforce and only 6 percent of CEOs, Per data from the Ascend Foundation.

This discrepancy between workforce participation and representation in management is attributed to the fact that Asian Americans are seen as good workers, but are not. ‘Leadership stuff’ because of old stereotypes.

“I killed myself over this deal – it would have collapsed many times without it,” Ingrid says after the partner’s announcement.

“There is more to being a partner than just doing your job,” Marty answers. It’s a statement that ignores her heavy commitment to the job as well as the obvious external tasks she does.

“You’ll never give it to me,” Ingrid realizes.

Partner pathThis point is weakened by the rest of the drama

Despite some of the important topics it addresses, the rest of the show softens its impact.

In particular, the romantic subplots are very time-consuming and meaningless. Ingrid is forced to choose between Nick (Rob Hibbs), the philosophical billionaire who led her to a proposal, and Murphy, a colleague who repeatedly fails to bear his weight, neither of which offers many reasons to invest in him.

Nick is ultimately boring and clearly a loser, while Murphy is a bad and unpleasant co-worker (in their first meeting, he pretends to forget who Ingrid is after they were previously linked at a wedding). Additionally, the whole setup is another situation where the Asian American heroine has mostly white male love interests, reinforcing the metaphor that has been evident on other shows such as The Mindy Project And the The summer you turned beautiful. (Some fans are hoping that Shin Min’s costume (Desmond Chiam, a hot environmental warrior who was part of the power deal, could become a potential love interest next season.)

Likewise, the conflict with Ingrid’s artistic younger sister, Lena (Lena Ann), which would have been an interesting test of sibling dynamics and family expectations, becomes so complex that any emotional weight of the story is lost. In the end, the show seems to be unchecking the boxes it thinks will lead to a successful drama, much in the way that Ingrid performs the tasks necessary to become a partner, without developing or considering those plot points.

until Partner pathAn examination of workplace inequality, arguably its strongest form, could have been more straightforward. The show doesn’t really grapple with how Ingrid screws Tyler in order to further her own ambitions. It gives short attention to a promising story examining Ingrid’s relationship with April (Carrie Fu), a young, educated Asian American lawyer.

in addition to, Partner path It doesn’t quite amount to the task of scrutinizing the roles of its characters in a broken system. The show shows Ingrid and Tyler as collateral damage, but they actively help perpetuate it. Each has its own recovery arc, but they also spend most of the series using their legal expertise to help companies crush small businesses and protect established industries like oil and gas. Their moral concerns are written at best.

Described as a more fantastic version of the legal drama, Partner path He has something new to say – but his implementation falls short of communicating the obvious.

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