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Things Only Adults Notice In Monsters At Work

"Monsters at Work" begins with a monster-defining business model change in the "Monsters, Inc." universe, due to the wicked CEO, Henry J. Waternoose III (James Coburn), being ousted by James P. "Sulley" Sullivan (John Goodman) and Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal). Naturally, the series takes place shortly after the events in the 2001 animated comedy film.

Instead of the lovable animated monsters' power spawning from the screams of human children, the source is rightfully shifted to the sound of laughter. These changes don't come easy for recent college graduate Tylor Tuskmon (Ben Feldman). He went to school to become a scarer, but he arrives at his dream gig on Day 1 to find that Monsters, Inc. has changed its business model entirely. In response, his aspirations of becoming a jokester on the Laugh Floor take shape.

"Monsters at Work" is the sequel to "Monsters, Inc.," but the third chapter (so to speak) of the franchise, since 2013's "Monsters University" is a prequel. Regardless, Monstropolis is turning in scares for laughter. While Tylor dreams of working alongside his heroes Mike and Sulley, he finds himself working as a mechanic on the Monsters, Inc. Facilities Team (MIFT).

Though "Monsters at Work" is a lighthearted romp for all ages, there are many elements within it that go unnoticed by younger viewers. We're here to reveal those things only adults notice in this extravagant tale of monsters at ... work.

A not-so-subtle knock on higher education

Not only is Tylor a Scare Major graduate from Monsters University, but he has the talent to match Sulley's scaring abilities –– and really, that's his only skill out of college. He's a hot commodity who's brought up to the big leagues shortly after graduation –– yet his dreams are dashed upon his arrival, and the series doesn't pull back any shots on the higher education system.

Tylor attends school to become a scarer, just to become a mechanic. Val Little (Mindy Kaling), Tylor's one-time classmate and new "best friend," even makes a joke about student loan debt and how Tylor must have a lot since he actually finished his degree. Val also jokingly shines a light on the fact that she dropped out of college whereas he graduated –– yet they end up working at the same place.

A common criticism of college is that it doesn't prepare students for the real world, not to mention the fact that jobs and professions can drastically change by the time a student finishes school. In Tylor's case, his industry changes, yet he has a very refined –– albeit limited –– skillset. He realizes that he needs more training to succeed in his field, so he begins taking comedy classes to hopefully one day work permanently on the Laugh Floor. This might seem like a minor obstacle to younger eyes, but it's an issue that harkens back to the real world for adults.

An all-star cast that fits Monsters, Inc.'s new business model

Although you don't have to be a specific age to recognize actors' voices in animated pictures, it certainly helps to be old enough to recognize more seasoned voices –– and "Monsters at Work" is flooded with an all-star ensemble cast. Not only that, but many of the cast members are ironically better suited for Monsters, Inc.'s new business model, as they are real-world comedians. "Monsters at Work," after all, is a comedy.

Surely, fans of the first two installments will recognize John Goodman voicing Sulley and Billy Crystal voicing Mike. However, other comedic geniuses now grace the "Monsters, Inc." universe with their presence. Case in point: The first two episodes alone feature Ben Feldman ("Superstore") voicing Tylor, a monstrous character with horns and a gift for scaring people. Mindy Kaling ("The Office") voices the upbeat and energetic Val Little. Henry Winkler ("Happy Days") voices Fritz, the scatterbrained yet redeemable and proud boss. And this is only scratching the surface of the talent that pleasantly terrorizes the screen in this TV series about monsters.

The demands placed on workers

"Monsters at Work," which is, of course, a show about life at the office, jokingly shines a light on the unfair demands that are commonly placed on workers in the real world, as well as how they cope with these demands to meet expectations. After Monsters, Inc. turns its attention to the sound of laughter, Mike works, and works, and works, and then he works some more. In one scene, his eye is bloodshot, and he's clearly been burning the midnight oil –– and then some.

Fellow monster employees tell him that they counter burnout with energy drinks, only this universe's "five-hour-energy" thirst-quencher has morphed into a disturbing 36 ½-hour can of energy. (Somewhere in there, there's a caffeine joke.) There are countless horror stories about how real-world employees are overworked yet must continue to chug along. And Mike does exactly that until he passes out at work. Cheers to Corporate America?

Work hard, play hard

Tylor doesn't want to be part of MIFT. For one, he didn't go to school to become a mechanic –– and, well, that's the only reason he needs to be discouraged by his new career prospects. His MIFT colleagues also come off as a joke to Tylor ... until the second episode, when he sees them in action. They're fearless, adequate at their jobs, and they even save Mike –– with the help of Tylor, that is. Upon this act of valor, the MIFT team celebrates by going to the vending machine and drinking the cans inside. This is a reference to alcohol, as Tylor's one-eyed monster boss Fritz says the first round is on him. Tylor stops just short of saying the next one is on him.

Although it's easy to miss as a child, it's not hard for a more seasoned audience member to realize that MIFT has a work hard, play hard mentality: When they work, they put all their attention and effort to the task at hand, yet when they're off the clock, all focus goes to lightheartedness and enjoying the present moment. And boy, do they enjoy it.

The right work mentality

As previously stated, some of the monsters are hard workers. MIFT members in particular have the ideal work mentality. When they don't have anything to fix, they don't try to look busy for the sake of looking busy. Instead, they work when they have work, and take necessary downtime when there's nothing to do. Not every office environment is the same, but it's pretty typical for employees to feel pressured into looking busy while they're on the clock, even if there's nothing to do. Witnessing the MIFT work mentality is a refreshing contrast.

Fritz is playing with a paper football in Episode 3, "The Damaged Room," when a new order comes in. His employees appear to be waiting around for a maintenance job as well. As soon as the request is dropped on their desks, however, the MIFT members jump into action and fix the damaged room. Okay, so it takes them a while, as Tylor is approaching every task as a beginner who's been thrown into the action with no notice and little knowledge. But it all works out in the end: Tylor, Val, Katherine "Cutter" Sterns (Alanna Ubach), and Duncan P. Anderson (Lucas Neff) fix the damaged room without the humans noticing. Downtime pays off!

Baby Snore's parents are conveniently oblivious

Although it's obviously for comedic effect, baby Snore's parents are ludicrously unaware of what's going on in their child's bedroom. In case you weren't keeping score, a monster tries to make Snore laugh, but instead damages her bedroom. The parents don't notice. Then, Mike takes the baby, because the MIFT members have to fix the room. The parents still don't notice. Mike and Sulley proceed to take baby Snore to a baseball game, give her a rotdog (a monster hot dog, naturally), and get into a fight with another monster.

While Mike and Sulley are at the sporting event, Snore's parents finally come into the room to check on their child. Duncan covers for the monsters by pretending to sleep in the crib, hidden by a blanket. Duncan doesn't know how human development works, so he talks to the parents. In response, the parents declare their baby a genius. So not only has the baby been abducted by monsters, she's at a baseball game eating a monstrous snack made of who-knows-what, and has been replaced by the worst baby impersonator of all time. The parents don't figure any of this out. Yikes, guys.

The slightest amount of power turns Duncan into a completely different monster

Before embarking on his vacation in Episode 5, "The Cover Up," Fritz uses a spinning wheel to decide who the supervisor will be while he's away. It lands on Val, which makes Duncan throw himself a one-monster pity party. Feeling bad for him, Val tips the wheel so it lands on Duncan's name instead. And that's when the small amount of power zooms directly to Duncan's head. 

Although Duncan is only the boss for a short amount of time, he treats his employees like they're beneath him. Case in point: Duncan makes Tylor roll out a red carpet and announce him with a loudspeaker when Duncan enters the office. Duncan even briefly rides on Tylor to get around. These events are, of course, comedically portrayed. But adults are a lot more likely to watch these scenes and recall their own nightmarish bosses. It might seem harmless to a younger viewer, but this type of behavior can have a lasting effect on other people (or, in this case, monsters). 

It's not long before everything goes wrong under Duncan's leadership, putting the entire company at risk. Luckily, Fritz saves the day when he returns from his trip. Apparently, Fritz is actually competent at his job, despite the spinning wheel fiasco.