It had been a rough week at work, and I was ready to update my resume. Pep talks from my friends and family went in one ear and out the other, but an unlikely source offered genuine inspiration: Dwight Schrute. The much-maligned assistant to the regional manager on “The Office” had finally gotten his break. He was branch manager, he got the girl and his old boss Michael Scott even made it to the wedding.

Whether we like it or not, TV and movies take hold of our emotions. They can make us laugh, cry, think and in some cases, persevere. After I watched “The Office” finale, I went back to work with renewed enthusiasm. Things were tough, sure, but my break was going to come, just like it did for Dwight.

‘Mad Men’

I know what you’re thinking. AMC’s hit period piece “Mad Men” features heavy drinking, regular adultery and perpetual chauvanism. How inspirational. As I watch these characters rise to the occasion only to shoot themselves in the foot, though, I can relate. Because “Mad Men” explores so much (career, family, contentment, jealousy), it has the ability to inspire so much self reflection. Take the show’s protagonist, Don Draper. He’s an ace at work, inspires professionals to be confident, take chances and works hard. At home, Draper inspires viewers to become everything he’s not: loyal, loving and committed.

‘Man of Steel’

One of the most inspiring franchises in movie history made its triumphant return this month. “Man of Steel” gives a darker, more serious account of Superman’s past. As a child, I tied a red beach towel around my neck and flew around the house. “Man of Steel” inspired the same ideals now that I felt as an innocent kid. The lofty themes of sacrifice, potential and responsibility that turn Clark Kent into a hero inspired me to become a better person. Critics may point to the action sequences or special effects, but “Man of Steel” soars because it inspires the audience with this great character.

‘The Office’

Most TV shows provide an escape from our mundane lives. “The Office” celebrated it. This workplace comedy recently wrapped up its nine-season stint in style, with the return of Michael Scott, Dwight and Angela’s wedding and a happily-ever-after resolution for Jim and Pam. Some may wonder how a show with a such a small scope could inspire, but for me, that’s the reason it inspired. Most of us spend the majority of our time at work, but that doesn’t have to be a jail sentence. Over the years, “The Office” characters connected and invested in each other. By the time the show ended, there were genuine relationships that made days rich and rewarding. You’ll probably see Direct TV promotions for “The Office” reruns for years to come. That’s how much we grew to love these characters. I hope that I can develop similar relationships in my life.

image by watchwithkristin

By Mario Vasquez

Mario teaches screenwriting at his local community center and writes about TV, movies and entertainment in his spare time.