On television and in real life, home health aides are an underpaid, overworked, and invisible workforce. Like Elisa (Salma Hayek) on season three of 30 Rock, they feed, bathe, cook, and clean for the nation's elderly folks and people with disabilities in their homes. Yet these workers struggle to make ends meet; on average, they make less than $10 an hour. They receive no overtime pay, and their work can often be physically demanding. Moreover, home health aides work in private residences where their labor receives little oversight and where they lack a support network to help them advocate for better compensation. And these injustices to home health aides matter now more than ever because—guess what?—with a growing elderly population, it's the fastest growing occupation in the U.S.
So while Elisa's plight is played for laughs against Jack's one-percenter lifestyle, the sitcom offers a surprisingly frank glimpse of an undervalued workforce, one that's comprised overwhelmingly of women and women of color—and one that hides in plain sight in homes all across America.
Anyone on Twitter or Facebook this weekend learned quickly that UK singer Amy Winehouse passed away, and speculation about a drug overdose ran rampant over the information highway. The attention, in the United States anyway, dwarfed the other big story of the weekend, that an extreme right-wing man bombed the Norwegian Prime Minister's offices and then killed more than 80 children who were attending a Labour Party summer camp. The total dead currently stands at 93. But just this morning, Glenn Beck, from his Internet compound, said that the camp "sounds a little like the Hitler Youth." Oh, the tangled webs we weave.