Television

The Office: The Soon-To-Be-Held-Hostage American Classic

2019 is drawing to a close. A new year is coming, and a new decade along with it. There will be plenty of opportunity for change. For people to grow and get better. The future has limitless possibilities.

But none of that matters because The Office is being pulled off of Netflix!

Everyone wants a piece of the streaming service pie. Ignore the fact that the industry cannot sustain that many services! Forget that this is exactly what happened with cable TV, which has been quickly declining over the last decade! Start a streaming service, it’ll be great! Take all your shows and movies off of one platform and force your audience to pay yet another monthly fee to get it back by subscribing to yours!

Everyone is hopping aboard this train. Including NBC. And they intend to take one of the most beloved comedies of the twenty-first century with them.

The Office is a classic show. It wrapped up years ago, but people are still watching it to this day! Scenes are still turning into memes, quotes are still being thrown around left and right, and it has consistently been near the top of Netflix’s charts for years! People love this show about an incompetent manager, all of his bizarre and tired employees, and the failing paper company where they all work. I can’t blame people; this show is a classic comedy, one of the funniest shows to ever come out of the US.

Or at least it was. Until it declined in the later seasons.

The premise of The Office is simple. It is shot as if it were a documentary, recording the daily lives of the employees at Dunder Mifflin Paper Company in Scranton, Pennsylvania. It follows bumbling but lovable manager Michael Scott, strict but gullible Dwight Schrute, mischievous but kind Jim Halpert, ambitious and pretty secretary Pam Beesly, and all the other employees as they do pretty much anything except for work. They play games, pranks, get into battles with one another, partake in some workplace romance with all the drama that brings, and do whatever they can to make their daily lives a little less miserable.

This is an ingenious setup that allows for the construction of easy and effective comedy. Every episode, you can’t help but wonder which character is going to do something stupid or over-the-top first! One episode, you’ll be watching Dwight chase a bat while Jim pretends to be transforming into a vampire. The next, you’ll be watching Michael bumble through a corporate meeting because he’s an immature moron. You never quite know what you’re gonna get, but it’s always hysterical!

It helps that the comedy is always grounded firmly in the characters. Every single set piece occurs because of a character’s previous actions, which gives the story a strong sense of continuity and allows the characters to seamlessly push it along. Creed forgot to do his job? The whole office enters panic mode and reveals that none of them know how to do their jobs either! Phyllis gets flashed in the parking lot? Michael takes all the ladies out for a day of revelry while the guys chill out in the ladies bathroom and Dwight sets up a task force! The comedy is always brought on by the characters and their reactions to the current situation, not by the situation itself!

Until the later seasons. When the writers ran out of ideas, so they started writing scenes that are only fun because they’re shocking. Sure, why not have Dwight tranquilize Stanley? It’s not like Dwight considers himself the office protector who tries to keep his coworkers safe from danger and only unintentionally puts them in danger through sheer incompetence! Just have him point a weapon at a coworker!

That’s the truly tragic thing about the office. After Steve Carell left, hanging up the role of Michael Scott, the series lost some of its magic. The jokes became more forced and less funny, the drama felt repetitive and manufactured rather than unique and organic, and very few of the characters retained the same hilarious elements that made us love them in the first place.

Except Creed. He was pretty consistent. And hysterical.

Despite its eventual decline, The Office was still a phenomenal show. It perfectly balanced the comedy with moments of genuine emotional weight, whether it be making your heart soar or putting it six feet under. Each character, despite how absurd they were, felt like a real person, and they were all likable!

Except Ryan. He was pretty consistent. Consistently punchable.

Give the show a watch while it’s still on Netflix. Whether you be watching it for the first or thirty-second time, it is a wildly gripping and entertaining series. I only wish that the later seasons had been as consistently good as the ones that came before it.

But I always say that a story is only as good as its ending. And god damn. Did The Office have a phenomenal final episode.

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