Thursday, December 3rd, 2009
110

Meghan Keane: 'The Office' is the Most Depressing Show on Television

WHAT IS THE FREQUENCY JIM?Have you watched The Office lately? The NBC series has become a microcosm of how depressing this recession can get-and not just because The Dunder Mifflin Paper company may fold in the next few episodes. That, after all, seems a fitting end for a company based on a business model that stopped being relevant in 1992. Instead, the show has taken the story of a man with a promising future and given him an interminable present.

In the last two seasons, our hero Jim Halpert won the girl, got the big promotion and upgraded to a suit. These were all things fans were happy about. It was encouraging. But wanting romantic tension to be relieved is never as satisfying as the relief.

The matrimony of Jim and Pam Beesly seemed the logical conclusion to a show where half the humor comes from unspoken communications between Dunder Mifflin employees and the audience watching their ongoing documentary. After years of silent glances, quiet flirtations and knowing inside jokes, Pam and Jim were finally-finally-doing what we'd be hoping for all along. Gone were Pam's poorly-thought-out engagement to her lackluster boyfriend Roy and the painful tug of allegiances between Pam and Jim's one-time girlfriend Karen that tore apart audiences earlier in the show. Jim and Pam won out. Getting those two together at last seemed so right!

Then their wedding day came. The Office pulled out a pretty impressive mid-season episode for an event that usually serves as a finale. There was communal puking. There was an ill-advised group dance down the aisle. There were the secret vows that Jim pulled out to remind Pam-and fans-of Jim's greatness.

Jim and Pam getting married did more than give Michael and excuse to hook up with Pam's mom. It expanded the lens of The Office wide enough to reveal a disturbing fact: Jim and Pam don't have any real friends.

Suddenly, a romance that seemed like the natural progression for two quietly charming people revealed itself to be much more depressing.

All of Jim and Pam's witty asides and eyerolls in response to their officemates' antics have stopped being expressions of untapped potential and started to look like passive-aggressive attempts to undermine their peers-who are the only people who will socialize with them.

For audiences, Jim-more so than Pam-has served as a pressure valve for all of the overstimulated personalities on the show by responding to his absurd coworkers the only rational way: with sarcasm and bafflement. The whole point of Jim was that he held the promise that at some point he would get his act together enough to break out of the confines of Dunder Mifflin. He's the relatable protagonist for anyone (read: everyone) who has ever been trapped in a middling situation and found the only defense to be sarcasm and bemusement.

Now Jim has developed into the most depressing archetype: a mediocre man who has already realized his full potential.

Gone is Jim's charming lack of enthusiasm for his job. Now he's proving exactly where a lack of drive is likely to lead you-to the mediocrity of middle management, where one is gripped by the fear of losing whatever corner of inanity you've carved for yourself in the workplace.

Rather than rely on the fact that his intellect could capably get him a job at any other two dimensional office space Scranton, PA, has to offer, Jim is now terrified of losing his job-and his pressurized wall of status-at Dunder Mifflin.

In the end, it looks like Karen didn't fare so badly after all. At least Rashida Jones has lived to sitcom another day, landing on the similarly themed Parks and Recreation, a show that suffers a bit from the same derivative inception as The Office, but has found new areas for humor in the Tracy Flick quality of characters that actually desire their middle management fate.

But on The Office, Jim has always succeeded despite his job. His ongoing competition with Rainn Wilson's overzealous Dwight Schrute worked because Dwight didn't care how his coworkers viewed him. The comedy of Dwight all depends on the fact that he is hopelessly obsessive about everything he does, while Jim won us over by trying least.

Now that Jim has some power, we are slowly learning that he doesn't know how to use it. As Jim struggles to succeed in the workplace, the show butts up against the depressing fact that he is not very good at his job.

While Michael Scott is off in New York being used as a show pony to demonstrate Dunder Mifflin's successes, Jim is back at home, making one of his underlings work in the supply closet.

Throwing a wrench in the inane procedural drama of office life is funny when you have nothing to gain from it. But overabusing power-or a lack of it-is just sad.

Watching Jim scrape to compete with Michael-a man who previously he had only mocked-brings a deep kind of embarrassment. It's gotten to the point where Jim pushed his "comanager" into a koi pond to get a leg up with the brass during a lunch meeting. Any self-respecting guy would be embarrassed to put so much effort into embarrassing someone.

The only upside is that, with the building tension between Jim and Pam out of the way, some of the smaller characters are finally able to shine. Ed Helms, Ellie Kemper and Mindy Kaling especially have taken off running with the extra screen time they've been given.

And as he uncomfortably settles into his partitioned office, Jim's story is starting to resemble the worst purgatory of 30-something life. Each subsequent episode now brings with it a reminder of Jim's failure, the harsh reality that having dreams is no indication that you'll ever achieve them. If there's something more depressing than that-and less funny-I'd be hard pressed to find it in prime time.



Meghan Keane is a freelance writer.

110 Comments / Post A Comment

DahlELama (#707)

This was so incredibly dead from start to finish that it made me sad to read it. I love this show, and will stick with it no matter but, but Jim and Pam have become assholes, and gone from the people you want to be friends with to the friends you realize are actually poisonous. On the one hand, I'm impressed with how incredibly true to life this seems–in a lousy environment, the more self-aware you are, the more miserable you will be. On the other hand, it makes from some seriously slit-your-wrists TV, and I'll take the beautifully un-selfconscious remainder of the crew over that any day. Here's hoping the writers–and the Halperts–get it together soon.

sunnyciegos (#551)

It was the only place for his character to go that allowed the show to continue producing episodes. Kinda like Bart Simpson yielding the floor to Homer, Jim's been sidelined by the Office's fantastic secondary characters. He was always kinda dull, anyway. And he must be so tired of giving those knowing glances to the camera. STOP BEING SO KNOWING.

DahlELama (#707)

Dead ON, that's meant to say. Oh, good Lord, I suck.

Flashman (#418)

I was wondering about that…

jrkinsella (#748)

I thought this whole article would be about how it's sad they don't give Creed more to do. But, now I'm just sad. Hey remember the Casino Night episode? Good times. Good times.

whodatninja (#2,423)

creed is hands-down the best character on the show.

http://www.creedthoughts.gov.www\creedthoughts LOL

tralafel (#1,221)

Pretty risque, even for the intranet.

Flashman (#418)

I loved how, during the Savannah party game one, Creed makes a beeline out of the office as soon as he's told that there's a murder investigation going on.

bb (#295)

looking for meta-enabling tag…?

Screen Name (#2,416)

I knew it! The Internet is easy.

Screen Name (#2,416)

Is this an example of what an earlier post referred to as "meta-enabling"?

very appropriate that the google ad served up alongside this post was about becoming a 'marketing rock star'

lempha (#581)

The unbearably-depressing effect is doubled by the show's complete lack of acknowledgement, POV-wise, that Jim and Pam now have gone from relatable to hatable to abjectly pathetic. It's very, "What the fuck is wrong with all of you people?" which, that thought is itself an extremely depressing and scary experience.

sunnyciegos (#551)

This. American networks just don't know how to end a tv show before the characters become completely pathetic, and the actors, apathetic.

TV shows only get canceled when they stop producing revenue in the first run markets. Stop watching it and they will stop producing new episodes.

Matthew Perpetua (#2,418)

Isn't the typical defense of the original UK Office vs. the US Office that it's sooooo much darker, and hence automatically superior because nihilism is always cooler? So wait, now the UK version is better cos it had a happy ending? Okay, sure.

Fredrick (#268)

I think the argument is that the UK one was allowed to end. It being darker is just a product if it being itself, the American Office is being itself as well, and what it is, apparently, is upsetting.

@perpetua

Screen Name (#2,416)

Speaking of meta-enabling, I watched an episode of "Medium" recently where Allison donned a pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses that enabled here to see numbers on the other characters' foreheads indicating how many days they have left to live. I hope that is what the numbers next to everyone's posting name here represent.

Screen Name (#2,416)

Wait, I'm sorry @maura #18, in retrospect that was very selfish of me. It's probably just the number of registered posters. I'm sure it's nothing to worry about. Although "Medium" was based on a real person. Still. It's probably just registrations.

It's my IQ.

It's my favorite, erm…

Bittersweet (#765)

It's my net worth, in millions.

garge (#736)

It's how many calories were in the bagel I just ate.

I chose my number arbitrarily.

mike d (#61)

I bought my number at auction, because I think "#60" is lucky.

tralafel (#1,221)

Mine is just my favorite numerical palindrome.

@tralafel – Shibboleth.

roboloki (#1,724)

it's the number i was issued int the camp

shostakobitch (#1,692)

it is how many dollars you could pay me to have somebody killed.

Natan (#1,967)

I'm going to be an asshole and say that if there's one thing I'm tired of seeing on blogs, it's long pieces about TV shows. I apologize for being an asshole.

balsa_wood (#465)

Yes, I second this. Asshole #2.

elecampane (#1,877)

team tv is inherently dull

djfreshie (#875)

I'm going to be an asshole and say that if there's one thing I'm tired of reading on in long-pieces-about-tv-show-comments it's complaints about free articles nobody gets paid a lot of money to write, and that nobody forces anyone to read.

You know, we can keep doing this "I am going to be an asshole….[then complain about your comment's complaint]" thing all day.

It like nuclear fission or fusion… whatever.

Abe Sauer (#148)

@ djfreshie
I AM an asshole and a I don't get paid a lot of money (i.e. ANY money) to write articles nobody is forced to read and this is still a brand-dead argument against criticism.

tralafel (#1,221)

"That being said…"

missdelite (#625)

Apology not accepted.

djfreshie (#875)

@Abe Sauer
What is a Brand-Dead?

Abe Sauer (#148)

"Brain." And sorry, "brain-dead" was(is) harsh. I meant, the idea that free content is immune from criticism because it is free or that "you don;t have to read it" is a defense of content… are both poor if only because they leave open such a wide swath of horrible possibilities…

djfreshie (#875)

Fair…but my reactionary response wasn't really a defense of free content. But what irritates me more than anything is unconstructive criticism of aforementioned content.

The internet empowers people to feel entitled to offer their criticism to anything and everything, whenever they want. Which is fine, I suppose, but if you're going to do something, do it well! You would never write into to Popular Science magazine and go "if there's one thing I'm sick of, it's multiple universe and string theory discussion. Bo-ring!" And THAT was even a situation where you probably paid for that magazine, went through the effort of writing and mailing an actual physical letter…it seems to me that the less effort one requires to say a thing, the less effort that person puts into what they say.

Maybe I was equally guilty, in my response, of being lazy.

Abe Sauer (#148)

Ha. We are both slothful!

And you woul;dn;t write that letter to Pop Science because you would never see it in print or get a reaction from the editorial. Nobody comments on the internet to actually make a point or influence opinion; they comment to see their opinions right there in "print" next to the original (maybe much better researched piece). That is to say, many internet comments are for their own sakes. But yes, anonymity + ease of sounding off = lack of discourse.

djfreshie (#875)

I like Vanilla more than Chocolate!

It feels good to admit things?

Backslider (#819)

@Natan Well what the hell else are we all supposed to talk about? Jeese.

bennimaddi (#314)

this is obvs true but hasn't the whole point of the office always been depressingness? i haven't watched it in several seasons, but i always enjoyed the jim and pam romance (and the romance of their british counterparts whose names i forget) precisely because it was about two basically hopeless and pathetic people finding love with each other.

lempha (#581)

The best way I can describe the difference is that now "Jim and Pam" is just a total zero. There's no predicate anymore. It's just two hopeless and pathetic people. Period. And what is most hopeless and pathetic about it is that the show is seriously testing the viewer's ability to even feel sympathy for them, these hopeless and pathetic people who seem to actually deserve it.

keanesian (#1,116)

I think the ingrained depressingness was more obvious in the British version. In America, it seemed like Jim could go on to something much better, and the fake documentary premise could continue on for as long as the ratings kept up. Damn American optimism.

HonoriaGlossop (#1,247)

Tim and Dawn.

This is an interesting point, but I'm not sure the British version exactly bore it out. Yeah, maybe Tim was perhaps a bit more… stultified in the beginning of the series than Jim was, but they both showed at least some level of promise. Pam & Dawn both seemed equally stuck.

But! At the end of the Christmas special when Tim & Dawn finally get together, Tim gives Dawn the art stuff and you think that maybe, possibly, they'll both get out of there & on to better things. Here? Pam has already FAILED art school! WAY more bleak, friends.

Baroness (#273)

It's really about misanthropy, and how funny that can be- the Brits excel at it.
All the characters were meant to be pathetic. It's just that US television needs to make characters in comedies cuddly and sympathetic and attractive, rather than hateful wankers.

The US "Office" had a damned good run, I'm not one of those tiresome bores always saying the UK version was better bla bla shut the fuck up. It's just that the current series needs to be taken behind the barn and shot.

myfanwy (#1,124)

*fawns over this piece*

Matt (#26)

I've said it before and I'll say it again, The Office ends in a massive murder-suicide perpetrated by Jim with Dwight being the only person left standing because he was out at Taco Bell or whatever at the time and when he returns to The Office he lets out a long, keening, comic book hero "NOOOOOOO!!!" amid the blood-soaked particleboard desks and then there is a star wipe and that Journey song from The Sopranos.

Get out of my head!

rj77 (#210)

Jim and Dwight are my fave Office couple. They should move to Iowa and get gay married and start a new beet farm.

Bittersweet (#765)

[WARNING: NITPICK] Jim didn't actually push Michael into the koi pond, he just leaned away when Michael was falling in.

Which, upon further reflection, may be even more pathetic.

And didn't we always sort of know that Jim would turn into Michael, only with a wife and not as good at sales? They've been hinting at that for years now.

keanesian (#1,116)

Oh. Right right on the first point. Ooft. That second one is a depressing idea. Jim would make a horrible Michael. He's nowhere near as good at games.

rj77 (#210)

What of the Office Olympics?

There's a really sad bit at the end of one of last season's, I think, episodes where Jim & Michael are sitting next to one another, and Jim has just had a day where he couldn't control the office or something. And you finally see Jim appreciating what Michael's gone through in his years & years at Dunder Mifflin. And that Jim begins respecting Michael a bit for that experience. I think it's totally a turning point.

Oh! It was where there were birthday parties? And Jim wanted to have a mass party for everyone but Michael told him it would never work? Any bells?

spanish bombs (#562)

I agree. The Office sucks because the writers suck. Jim went from staplers-in-Jello to being super-lame. I recognize that they may be actively trying to achieve a crappy atmosphere, but this seems like a terrible artistic decision.

rj77 (#210)

@ DorothyMantooth:

Yes. It was the episode where Michael was out playing Survivorman?

And when he chuckles knowingly at Jim's error with the birthdays, and says, "Give it ten years and you'll figure it out" or something like that. And Jim replies, "I won't be here in 10 years."

Yes, you will, Jim. Yes, you will.

Yes! That was exactly the exchange!
And you just see the realization in Jim's eyes. And, oh, is it bleak.

rj77 (#210)

@ DorothyMantooth: Indeed, you see a part of him die right there in that moment.

winoforever (#2,444)

i actually think that michael's reply to that was "that's what i said". even bleaker.

pissy elliott (#397)

Another nitpick: at one point, Jim did have friends. Way back in the dark ages (Season 2?), he had at least one party. Or barbecue. With incidental "roommates" and "friends." This kind of fell by the wayside — sloppy continuity or the result of lonely obsession, self- and romantic? You sort of know the answer, watching the long-distance interactions between him and Pam during her stint at Pratt (what a WEIRD plotline, in retrospect).

Around about season 2 I had friends and now I only hav a fiancee. So realism. But I'm totally going to grad school next year.

rj77 (#210)

And Pam had bridesmaids that weren't her sister. Who were they? where did they come from? Why did the one sleep with Dwight?

Such is the power of the three wolf moon shirt.

jfruh (#713)

Wouldn't it be kind of awesome if Jim eventually became a humorless corporate tool to the extent that Pam fucking leaves him? Wouldn't that be a big "how you like me now?" to all the "Oh, the UK Office is so much awesome and more bleak" types?

jfruh (#713)

(Also, I do think that the UK Office was awesome and bleak, but it was also just 14 episodes long. I don't think you can really sustain a character as simultaneously pitiful and unlikable as David Brent 22 episodes a year, year after year. And it did have an improbably happy ending.)

Bittersweet (#765)

Seconded, shouting. Somehow my Steve Carell tolerance is much higher than my Ricky Gervais tolerance. And I'm a total Anglophiliac and everything!

rj77 (#210)

…and then Jim could off himself with the katana sword Dwight has hidden behind the copier.

Michael will then take the rest of the workers out to Chili's for a healing bowl of spinach dip.

Wow. I have got to find out when this show airs in my village. This actually sounds astonishingly good.

OuackMallard (#774)

I don't see these developments as anything more depressing than usual for The Office. Remember when Pam went to art school? If recognizing one's own mediocrity and finding joy in your spouse (instead of one's excellent career choices) makes you pathetic, then color me pathetic.

davidwatts (#72)

well, isn't that kind of the point? that we all actually are pathetic, which is why the show is so easy to relate to?

rj77 (#210)

We have a winner!

Bittersweet (#765)

And also why it's often so freakin' hard to watch.

Aatom (#74)

yes.

myfanwy (#1,124)

But really, if we're all rooting for Jim to get out of the soul-deadening position, doesn't that say more about ourselves than about the direction the show has taken? Having Jim turn into a prick is the natural evolution of his character, and forces us to look at ourselves, snarking away at The Man and entertaining our quiet little escape fantasies. It's just like the Matrix.

myfanwy (#1,124)

Jesus, not even irony can save me now.

Ronit (#1,557)

Wow. This is scarily accurate.

Fucking knock out!

skybarn (#304)

The essay is really well-written and jarring, but I wonder if one thing isn't being missed. Wasn't Jim's only real ambition to have Pam fall in love with him? He stayed at his job because she was there and talking to her every day meant more than furthering his career. So, yes, now he's stuck in this awful job and he's turning into a dick about it, but he's married to the woman he loves and he's about to have a kid. So maybe the idea is you have to survive at work to have what you have at home. I'm not saying this excuses him, but I think the bleakness is played up because we rarely see their life outside of the office. Their seeming dickish behavior might just be a survival mechanism to keep their family together.

myfanwy (#1,124)

Or that deep down, while we all mock the climbers, none of us choose to opt out of the system?

Baboleen (#1,430)

Pam and Jim ARE the most boring characters on the show. As an alternative to ending the show, which I'm sure the other cast members and writers (along with fans) are undoubtedly concerned with, why not develop some of the others.

Goldstein (#2,419)

Natan, TV can't be analyzed at length like movies are? TV from this decade is ripe for in-depth writing like this.

Flashman (#418)

I didn't think you guys were going to last a month, but dammit The Awl is the gift that just keeps on giving.

NicFit (#616)

Who needs a dream or an exciting life when you are clearly working on the One Thing That Matters: babies.

irishmexi (#2,425)

now, I haven't read all the comments, so I'm not sure if this has been touched on. I think you're right in saying that the Office has become more and more depressing and Jim's character has kind of slipped into a middle management, mediocre lifestyle rut with no real friends…However, are we really surprised by this? There were always references to how not capable Jim was at doing his job, or doing Michael's job. The times Michael left him in charge and Jim found out that maybe Michael had to do more than he was given credit for and this was harder than he thought it was. The subtle moments between Michael and Jim where Michael sort of implies, that someday, when Jim gets up there, he'll get the hang of it. While it is depressing that Jim sort of represents this "worst purgatory of 30-something life", I never felt like Jim was ever going to amount to more than that, and, because of his lack of enthusiasm for anything other than Pam and pranks, he probably would never really try. Maybe I'm just a cynic with a cold heart of stone, but was Jim or Pam ever really meant for anything more?

irishmexi (#2,425)

if I could edit I would take out Pam in this last sentence.

PeppyBismilk (#2,427)

I think ya'll need to get on it and write the cast of the Office a fan letter!! Go over to http://www.Celebletters.com and write them one! The best part is, you can win $200 by doing so! They might very well see it and you could win $200, it's a win-win situation, no?

narnio (#38)

nice!

Thanks for a great article, Meghan.

I hope you and your readers will take a look at my reading of "The Office" and the way it's changed during the recession. Essentially, the writers have been forced to revise their understanding of what pathetic is. In early episodes, the characters actually wanted to get laid off because they thought having a job was a drag and that their lives were pathetic. Now, they're scared of losing their jobs.

They have a more mature, grateful view of employment. That maturity might also be less funny is a valuable point.

http://davidwanczyk.blogspot.com/2009/11/jumping-shark-and-bear-market-nbcs.html

Hez (#147)

Two words, people:

"Mr. Mom."

ThankyouverymuchItakePayPal

"'The Office' is the Most Depressing Show on Television": I just find it one of the more boring, just after Mad Men. I just can't watch an episode of either show in its entirety, lest I drop fast asleep on my couch.

HelloTitty (#830)

Plus, Pam has become SUCH a spoiled bitch. Was that really necessary? *sigh* Still will watch this show until the bitter end. And all the reruns too. I am loyal like that.

orf (#2,448)

Maybe I'm just misinterpreting the previous comments on this article (which I found fantastic, might I add), but I'm almost convinced this darker development in The Office's presentation as a comedy is a GOOD thing for the show. Frankly, I felt seasons 4 and 5 were major slump seasons; they were starting to run out of good gags and since the only constant subplot in the entire series, Jim and Pam, was coming to the climax we've all been expecting since Casino Night (if not before), the series needed a transfusion, and badly.

I think what the writers have found in the season is just the transfusion it needed. No longer do I consider it one of the funniest shows on television, nor do I think it's really all that funny anymore, but there's something deeper lurking in the writing that makes it still one of the best shows I watch on a week to week basis. And that's because I feel the writers have realized they have run out of gags, and now have to focus on the only thing they've got left (and a strong attribute it is): the characters. The Office, I've always thought, has had fantastically well-developed, fleshed out characters for a standard network sitcom and this season's darker approach has been EXACTLY what I've been waiting for since midway through season 4.

Don't get me wrong, I think the show is getting tired, and I don't think it's got anywhere else to go past, maybe, season 7, but I'm of the opinion this is the best season (in terms of television quality, certainly not laughs) since season 3.

rj77 (#210)

This.

iplaudius (#1,066)

Each subsequent episode now brings with it a reminder of Jim's failure, the harsh reality that having dreams is no indication that you'll ever achieve them. If there's something more depressing than thatâ€"and less funnyâ€"I'd be hard pressed to find it in prime time.

It's depressing if instead of working to realize your dreams, you sit at home watching unsatisfying TV shows.

Me, I settle for a guilty half-depression: I interrupt and postpone my striving to read (very good) blog posts about things like television shows I never watch.

Ryoung (#2,455)

Married…With Children.

ikasquid (#2,456)

The office has always been awkward and sad. The reason I've always liked it, though, is that it's the closest we as an audience will ever get to a normal realistic show on our teevees. The characters go through their lives like normal people do, and they even look like normal people. This may be depressing to some, but to me it is refreshing. The Office, to me, isn't about instant gratification or "feel goodery" but about waiting it out and seeing where the meandering plots and individual crazies take the show as a whole. For example, the new secretary has a lot of potential for a good new character, and I am just waiting for more Kelly centric episodes. Kelly is crazy and depressing too! She's obsessed with Ryan and is kind of dumb, but she's still hilarious. Pam and Jim, like you said, have reached their romantic goal. Not as exciting in the short term. And Pam has been acting bratty, but she's pregnant! Cut her some slack! I feel as though these characters, weak and strong, are just reacting to situations like normal people.

Shinebox (#2,459)

Thanks. I never owned a refrigerator.

Clip Arthur (#2,024)

I actually stopped watching after being disgusted with season 4 for many of the reasons expressed here. The big problem with the show now is that after this many years, a lot of the staff of the place would simply grow, move on or be fired. And that did happen to a few folks, but nowhere near the amount there is in the real world. So now the premise of it being a "documentary" holds less and less weight. So now the show really plays, sounds and feels like a live action "King of the Hill" episode; I can laugh at a lot of the stuff from this season because it's gotten a tad better joke-wise, but then something as asinine as the whole wedding episode happens and good lord. Whatever.

Also, ikasquid, there have been other normal/realistic shows on the air. Shows where the characters are more based in reality than anything else. Like, look at all of Norman Lear's stuff. Yeah, classic sitcom format that doesn't feel real since there's no shaky cam (we all know reality deserves shaky camera work, right?) but the characters and themes were quite real. And they still hold up. Ditto with the first season of MASH… Which in retrospect suffered from the same problems "The Office" does; the premise demands a limited lifespan for the characters on the show, but somehow even with character changes it feels static.

Blah, blah…

I still think "The Dundies" episode from season 2 is the best single episode of the whole series.

ssag (#2,478)

The thing that is most disappointing for me is that Jim is an ass of a boss, and now there's no going back.

Kattlee (#2,529)

Dear Meghan:

Thank you thank you thank you for articulating exactly what went "wrong" with The Office….it especially reverted to type with the copy cat wedding after which many of my friends lost total interest…The Office began as such a charmingly painful show to watch to just painful now…I miss those old episodes of constant disbelief that now have evolved into a predictable sitcom and lazy writing I might add….what a shame……

potato (#2,530)

Maybe this is ridiculously optimistic of me, or maybe I just feel like I have to be the devil's advocate, but do you suppose – just suppose – that these new levels of depressing depths are to give, at least, the Jim character a road to self-realization and self-actualization? I'm not sure the Pam character can be redeemed in the state of her workplace mediocrity, but she is pregnant, so who know what new challenges baby Halpert will bring when Pam becomes a mother. But, as a 30-something professional realizing that my dead-end job is, in fact, dead end and that the quest to middle management is, ultimately, a fruitless, soul-sucking exercise, and that the effort put toward achieving that state of mediocrity would be better spent realizing an actual dream that would make me happy and provide? …Well, Jim's struggle to figure out whether or not he's a good fit for his job – or if the job's a good fit for him – is all too relatable in this generation's global/transient economy.

I feel the writers will ultimately take Jim and Pam to a happy place by the end of the show, maybe even liberate them from Dunder Mifflin – just as the Brits did for Tim and Dawn – because they are still the heart of the show. As much as I love the other characters, Jim and Pam will be the "plot" motivators for our half hour sitcom until the show's end, and I have to have faith that the clever writing staff are making Jim and Pam pathetic for a while to give them a bottom – something to hit before they can climb their way back to the top. In the meantime, we have the cute flirtation between Andy and Erin (or…the possibility that Andy might be gay, it could go either way, lol), Dwight's hilarious scheming to try to get Jim fired – now including Ryan (which may one day actually work, given this article's slant and which provides the show's best laughs lately), the same peanut gallery comments from Creed and Meredith and Stanley and the accountants, and Michael's perpetual ineptitude and ignorance to keep us engaged. Is the show as funny as it once was? No, not right now – it's been on the air for awhile, and even the best sitcoms tire (yes, Seinfeld too) – but I think it's undergone a creative resurgence with these new developments that are going to take us by surprise later, because that's what the Office consistently has done and still does – catch us by surprise with the unexpected developments it has hidden up its sleeve.

Mo Rage (#2,613)

If you don't get it, you don't get it, that's all.

As for us guys, it's still about the humor. It was never about the romance.

Mo Rage

Kasey (#6,290)

Jim didn't push Michael into the koi pond, he just watched him fall in without trying to help him. And this article makes me not want to enter my 30's…

Rough Trade (#287,596)

Even five years later this article is still massively wrong. Who were all those other folks at the wedding? Random relatives? Walk-ins off the street? What about Isabel and the third groomsman? It was a TV show about people in an office. They didn't show all their outside social life because that wasn't what the show was about.

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