Table for two? Many of us have worked food service jobs in our lives, and it can be hard, demeaning, and exhausting, but can also offer the best group of coworkers you could imagine. So I’d like to pause to salute a few of my favorite fictional servers from television.
Some rocked it season after season, eavesdropping on tables and providing a great meeting place for friends. Others dropped sodas in laps and hid from crushes. A few outright quit or got fired. For all of you who’ve worn the apron and gone home with crummy tips, here are some of the best and worst TV waitresses.
1. Roseanne Conner in Roseanne
She led a revolt against her boss with her coworkers and suddenly needed a job, so Rodbell’s Department Store it was. That uniform though—tragic. Like “country bumpkin bridesmaid” punishment. In later seasons, she opens her own diner called the Lanford Lunch Box where she serves up loose-meat sandwiches to the local color. Someone please tell me more about loose meat.
Photo from Swallow Daily
2. Penny in The Big Bang Theory
Oh Penny. She’s rocking the classic aspiring-actress-schtick while holding down a server gig at none other than the local nerd den the Cheesecake Factory. And another unfortunate uniform. But she’s competent! And eventually moves up to bartender, the dream!
Photo from Kiss My Wonder Woman/ TV Guide
3. Max and Caroline in 2 Broke Girls
They are alternately terrible waitresses, but they are also born hustlers. Again with the uniforms in condiment colors here, inexplicably a television waitress trope. And in restaurant terms, most realistic aspect of the show is that their cupcake business fails.
Photo from TV.com
4. Tyra, Julie, Matt, Smash, and Jess in Friday Night Lights
Clear eyes, full heart, can’t choose. This is by far the most realistic portrayal of high school kids trying to balance school, friends, goals, and restaurant jobs. From Applebee’s to the Landing Strip, these kids worked hard to figure it out and save some scratch. Also Tim Riggins.
Photo from eonline.com
5. Sookie Stackhouse and Arlene Fowler Bellefleur in True Blood
Who hasn’t wished that their server could just read their mind? Probably no one in Bon Temps, but Sookie’s done it anyway. Sookie and Arlene are battling evil so often it’s a wonder that Merlotte’s can even pass a health inspection. On the other hand, the uniforms aren’t yellow, the eye candy is fantastic, and the kitchen’s got that Lafayette spice. It wouldn’t be a dull place to sling food.
Photo from Pinterest
6. Brandon Walsh and Nat Bussichio in Beverly Hills 90210
Diner-cum-nightclub with real-life bands! An old sage to dispense advice and take no BS! Arguably the greatest era of 90210 as well.
Photo from ’90s Flashback
Forever The Waitress.
Photo from Wikia
8. Felicity in Felicity
Technically more of a barista, we watched her go through good days and bad at Dean & DeLuca, and we can only assume her cappuccino skills were better than her choosing-a-man skills. Plus Javier.
Photo from BuzzFeed
9. Veronica Mars in Veronica Mars
Girl detective and personal hero briefly worked at Java the Hut while taking a break from crime-fighting. Needless to say, it didn’t last long, probably given the heinous vests.
Photo from Veronica Mars Transcripts
10. Rachel Green in Friends
And finally, a truly awful waitress. Fun fact: Gunther was not supposed to be a character—he was originally just the only guy on set who knew how to work the espresso machine. I hope he and Javier from Felicity are best friends talking smack about the coffee game in New York and planning their own café somewhere in the television character netherworld.
Photo from With Love and Swallow, and top header photo from Lucky Mag
So, who did I miss?