It took three tries for me to fall in love with The Office. I came across it when it first came out on NBC. The aesthetics were too dry for me. I watched it again post-college after a coworker kept drawing parallels between our dysfunctional workplace and this godforsaken show that everyone kept quoting. That’s what she said rarely ever got a laugh from me.
The third time I watched it, I might have finished all 9 seasons in 3 weeks. No, I definitely did. And since then I can’t stop raving about this show that kept me from sinking, re-taught me about love and relationships, and gave me the best belly laughs I have had in a while.
The beauty of the office is the deep mundane nature of the company. A company that is relevant to all, but unknown and yet consistently trying to keep up in the face of changing American culture. Relatable and yet not an over defining backdrop. Accounting, Sales, HR, and a receptionist in a no-name town in your run of the mill state.
Everyone had a role, a significance, an identity, that changed, some, but not too much. And yet they continuously found new ways to relate to each other – The Finer Things Club, Jim’s short stint as manager, Darryl’s promotion from the warehouse.
The Office’s shining glory is that the cast largely remained the same till the end, a feat that is rare in 9 seasons of a live cast show with such a large cast. Save Michael’s exit in Season 7 and Andy’s full incorporation in Season 3 (?). We got to see characters grow and go through life, living, loving and often lamenting.
Jim & Pam – Forever a cute couple; close tie with Whitley and Dwayne. I truly want a man to love me like Jim loves Pam. It was beautiful, intense, and yet mostly healthy and not dramatic. They brought in two cute kids, had some tension, but figured it out. Gotta love it, never overshadowed the rest of the characters.
And then there is Michael. He truly is the best boss. I’ve never been more confident of anything. Michael took care to give his all to his employees, remembered and deeply celebrated their birthdays and life events. Sang happy birthday to Creed even while dehydrated in the middle of the woods and attended Pam’s art show and even bought one of her paintings. He gave his all to the people he loved – and a little bit too much to Jan. Perhaps it was in the midst of my own loneliness that I connected with Michael overcompensating for his. The way he continuously put himself out there. He never let rejection stop him, but only further fuel his desire to share, engage, and connect with those around him. Was he absolutely ridiculous and eccentric? Yes. But somehow he kept his employees engaged (and woefully distracted. how? idk) and selling, maintaining record profits year after year in a declining business. In between his one-liners and inappropriate comments, Michael continuously had nuggets of life and business advice that showed a caring, perceptive leader. As the company was on the edge of bankruptcy, Michael drags everyone through a murder mystery, quietly citing to a reluctant Jim that sometimes people need a distraction to keep them going, for the sake of morale in uncertain times. I’m so happy that in the end Michael has his fairy tale ending.
And The Office itself has a fairytale ending that makes the show just that much more perfect. It’s beautiful to see a show pull together all of its loose ends over the course of a season, a wind down that lets the writers reflect and give us an ending that is thought out and relatable. I loved that they addressed the reason for being filmed and were able to reflect on what it meant to have all aspects of their lives documented for nine years. Why this place meant so much and why it was perfect to represent an American story. I bet it was as cathartic for the actors as it was for the writers. Seeing Michael revel in the beauty of his Office family growing and icing their best lives and him living his best life with Holly and kids was the icing on the cake. A brilliant, fantastic, thoughtful ending to a show that will never leave American hearts.
There is beauty in the ordinary, as Pam Beasly-Halpert says. A healthy reminder to ourselves to love the space we’re in and engage with those around us and what they have to teach us.