Today’s kids may not remember, but waiters and waitresses at casual dining restaurants around the country were once covered in “flair,” pins and buttons — some whimsical, some carrying marketing messages — intended to give these otherwise anonymous eateries a level of quirkiness. It was an effort at synchronized idiosyncrasy, wherein servers were encouraged to express themselves… in the exact same manner as all the other servers at all the other thousands of identical restaurants. And then came Office Space.
Inarguably the greatest movie ever made in the history of greatest movies ever made, Mike Judge’s saga of workplace ennui draws an analogy between the crushing banality of the protagonist’s job as a cubicle-dwelling mid-level software engineer with the soul-robbing chain restaurant Chotchkie’s, a TGI Fridays stand-in where servers are expected to deliver deep-fried appetizers with a perma-smile, all while sporting just the right amount of flair:
In a new interview with Deadline, Judge discusses the long-term cultural impact that his masterpiece has had.
“About four years after Office Space came out, TGI Fridays got rid of all that (button) flair, because people would come in and make cracks about it,” reveals Judge. “One of my ADs asked once at the restaurant why their flair was missing and they said they removed it because of that movie Office Space. So, maybe I made the world a better place.”
Watchers of Judge’s current HBO show Silicon Valley will recognize that last sentence as reference to the oft-heard “Making the world a better place…” line that seems to make its way into every tech company’s media presentation.