I mentioned in another post that I was rewatching The Office. I’ve been finished with that for a few weeks and now I can’t stop thinking about it. I find myself looking at behind the scenes videos of the show on YouTube, and laughing so hard at all of the memes.
I remember watching the first season and not understanding why I was so compelled to continue with this documentary-type show. Full disclaimer here – I’m not a fan of reality TV or documentaries at all, with the exception of Planet Earth, cooking shows and Skin Wars, due to my background in makeup. But something about The Office demanded my attention.
Returning to the series now, years after it first came out, it still had that same demand to be binge-watched. So I did. I laughed and cried in equal amounts, and fell in love with the characters all over again. Then, in a state of shock that it was over, I turned to Parks and Recreation, hoping to fill the Dunder Mifflin-shaped hole in my life, but Parks and Rec just won’t fit (sorry to all of the die-hard fans out there).
And I’m not the only one who adores The Office. A rumour that the show could be picked up again has been circulating on social media, which gave fans all over the world palpitations.
So, I’ve been analysing. What is it about The Office that means so much to so many people?
The jokes are outrageously inappropriate, but you can’t help laughing, and Michael Scott is such an obnoxious idiot, but you can’t help but relate to him, feel sorry for him, and grow to love him. Which, by the way, I think is such a credit to Steve Carell’s skill as an actor.
If Michael were the only character that’s really obnoxious and politically incorrect, that would be one thing, but the fact is, many of the characters often say and do things that would be frowned upon in real-life situations. I mean, Dwight, Creed, Jan, Todd Packer, Robert California and Ryan Howard, to name a few, are all horrible people. Yet, despite all the shit they do, we still love them.
It goes to show what a powerful tool comedy really is. Laughing about serious topics is not only therapeutic, but also promotes tolerance and allows us to see the other person’s point of view. By laughing together, we understand each other better, right? And the writers on this show nailed making us laugh together. Through hilarious episodes, they managed to raise awareness for various causes and opened conversations about all of those subjects people don’t like to talk about: sexual harassment, intolerance of sexual orientations or religion, inequality and casual racism. Five years since the last episode aired, these topics are still relevant.
Aside from the serious stuff, though, I think what makes this show shine is the subject matter – normal people. Many of the characters are bland and boring, and their struggles are so like the ones we face that Dunder Mifflin’s halls become a window into our own lives. How can we not relate to Pam, sitting behind the reception desk but secretly dreaming of becoming an artist? We all have that dream, hiding behind the reality of what we need to do to pay the bills.
And then, the crown of this series is the message that there’s hope, even for the Pam’s of the world. We see how she grows, how she starts to fight for what she wants and eventually succeeds.
The same can be said of all the characters – every single one of them grows – even crazy old Creed. Michael becomes the man he’s always imagined himself to be, Jim finally starts working hard toward his goals, Dwight learns how to be a leader instead of a dictator, Andy stops blundering through life and starts making a real difference, and Angela finally learns that interpersonal relationships have meaning.
We see in this show that it’s possible for people from different points of view to get along with, and even grow to love, the people they looked down on before. We see that a little humanity goes a long way. And we see that, at our cores, we’re all just human, with the same struggles and concerns.
It’s not surprising that we get so invested in the characters’ lives – they’re mirrors of us.
If you’ve never watched The Office before, I’d really like to see the rock you’ve been hiding under, so I can take cover before the next Twitter-saga unfolds. Get on Netflix now, and give in to the urge to binge-watch this series. You won’t be sorry.
Thanks for reading and have a good weekend.