An Ode to The Office
March 24th, 2005. That’s the day American audiences were introduced to The Office. That’s the day we were introduced to Jim and Pam, Dwight and Angela, and of course, Michael Scott. The show finished its 9th and final season, and its 200th and final episode aired last Thursday (more on that later). The beautiful thing about TV shows, in my opinion, are their ability to create fictional characters and a universe that you grow to care about. As I was watching the finale last Thursday, I found myself rooting for Dwight and Angela, Jim and Pam, Oscar, Daryl and the rest of the Dunder Mifflin gang. Over the past nine years, we put our lives on hold, and for a half hour a week, enjoyed Pennsylvania’s favorite paper company. The writing and directing have always been a strong part of The Office, but its beating heart has always been its cast of characters and the relationships they weave with each other. Each character was so easy to relate to, in part because they were caricatures of people we’ve encountered in our own lives. How could they not be? The day to day monotony of office life breeds these type of people. The fairytale romance of Jim and Pam was just as common as the immature, borderline psychotic relationship between Ryan and Kelly. Everyone knows an overachiever, a sweet old lady, a crazy old man, a cynic, a dreamer and a cute girl. The Office somehow took these everyday characters and made you empathize with them. How? Back in 2011, creator Ricky Gervais wrote an article discussing both versions of The Office, and how he created some of his memorable characters. Gervais concludes the article with, “Who needs winners? They’re not in the slightest bit funny or interesting. Give me a loser any day.” He was right.
The characters on the show were, for lack of a better word, losers. The beat farmer who lived with his cousin, the accountant with 10 cats, the heavy set, impossibly charming buffoon. Even the “cool” characters in the office, Jim and Pam, were a salesman and a secretary for a small town paper company. Each character had a life of its own, and they all fit perfectly into the Scranton universe. No one was a better fit for this universe than Michael Scott.
Michael Scott was a microcosm of the show. He epitomized every value that the show explored. He was an oddity who desperately wanted to be accepted by the outside world, a dreamer who never quite achieved his dreams. At his core, he wanted to be loved, and that enormous need for affection could only come from one place: The Office. For Michael, The Office was the cool kids table at lunch. The Office was being picked first in gym class. It wasn’t a building. It was a home. He didn’t have employees. He had a family. Although Michael occasionally did some boneheaded things, we always gave him the benefit of the doubt, because we knew how much he cared. Michael’s relationships, both personal and professional, fueled the show. He made his long awaited return during the very sentimental series finale, trekking from Colorado to Scranton to be Dwight’s bestest mench. Later in the episode, Pam reveals that Michael has so many pictures of his children that he needed to get two phones. Michael didn’t mind. He was just happy to finally have a family plan. Michael was the biggest loser of all, but he made you laugh, he made you cringe, and most of all, he made you watch. The final two seasons of the show were disappointing, but I’ll always remember The Office for its seven seasons of memorable characters and goofy story lines. Whether it was Jim and Pam’s wedding, or Michael’s burnt foot, The Office always seemed to deliver. It taught us the power of relationships, and in the end, that the losers might be the biggest winners of them all. Thanks for satisfying us for nine years. That’s what she said.