9 to 5: The Feminist Movie With A Comedic Twist

By Toby Tunwase

Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, and Dolly Parton’s hit film, 9 to 5, was a massive hit in 1980 because it spoke to many average women in America. A few years before women received the recognition they deserved, 9 to 5 ridiculed the sexist and misogynistic male characters that were all too real in 1980 and are still around today.

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Thanks to Fonda, the film turned into a broad comedy as opposed to a feminist drama. Initially, the idea for the film arose from an all-female organization in Boston. According to Fonda, who drew inspiration from her everyday observations, an old friend started a group of female office workers, and she borrowed from their experiences.

With Fonda in charge, she changed the film’s tone from drama to comedy because a drama seemed too preachy and more like a feminist lecture for the audience.

Patricia Resnick, the screenwriter, had an idea for a dark comedy in which the secretaries tried to kill the boss. Fonda found the story disturbing, but Colin brought in a humorous element, so instead of their attempts to kill him being sinister, it turned into a comedy.

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The theme song was written by Dolly Parton, who earned an Oscar nomination for it, and Tomlin almost refused the role, but thankfully her wife advised her not to.

9 to 5 became the second highest-grossing film of 1980 as a result of their efforts. Women across the nation appreciated the movie because many of the characters’ plights resonated with them.