Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Leaving The Office

I never expected The Office to last nine seasons. But I guess that's just a testament to the show's staying power.
The fact that Dwight says "again" gets me every time
I know that fans of the BBC original balked at the idea of an Americanized remake of a show that needed no remakes or improvements. Ricky Gervais created a series that was painfully funny and just realistic enough to be relatable. It's that sort of realism that drove the US remake: NBC wanted to make a show with the same spirit, that American audiences could laugh at and relate to. They didn't go for really big stars or a laugh track - they just tried to capture part of the reason why we loved the original so much. I'd say they succeeded. Few other shows on TV right now have been able to sell me a zany plotline or an over-the-top character and made me forget that I was just watching television. The Office gave me the kind of comfort that we usually get from old-school sitcoms. I've grown up with it, and it feels really strange to go into next fall without 30 Rock or The Office.

When The Office premiered, I was a teenaged film student whose projects somehow always ended up being documentaries. The show's format appealed to me. I ended up explaining the stylistic differences between The Office and Arrested Development to more people than I expected. (Yes, I was a huge nerd.) The first season was a tad shaky while it found its footing, but it showed a lot of promise and delivered some great laughs. Not unlike me at seventeen, actually.

Season 2 fulfilled the potential that I saw in Season 1. During that season, I found out that a fellow TV fan had had the chance to interview Jenna Fischer and John Krasinski on her blog, Give Me My Remote. That interview was my first introduction to the blogosphere. I kept reading GMMR regularly, and it ended up being one of the reasons why I started Hab It Her Way. (The Office has been in my life for longer than Carey Price has. Holy crap.)

Jim kissing Pam at the end of Season 2 was a game-changer. I remember the day I watched that episode oddly well, considering that nothing else of note actually happened. After that, I realized just how the show can reflect real life. That sometimes we feel forced to stay somewhere, or even to move on, against our will. That our actions have consequences, and that sometimes things happen that we can't control.
I had to watch "The Injury" four or five times before I caught all the jokes.
I missed a lot of them while I was laughing.
At some point in season 3 or 4, I entered a contest and won a Dwight bobblehead. I still have it (of course) but I refuse to keep it at my desk at work, for fear it might break.
I cried at Jim and Pam's wedding. I used to think that people who cried at weddings were lame, and now I've become one.
I wrote a character for a short film project, and I whipped up a few paragraphs to describe for the actors who were to come in and audition, but it basically boiled down to "Angela from The Office." One woman who auditioned had never watched the show, but nailed at least half of Angela's facial expressions. We cast her on the spot.
I had Office quote-offs with one of my friends in university. "You always left me smiling and satisfied!"

I watched as characters who'd been relegated to the background started to come forth and get their own arcs. I watched as the writers found relatively effective ways to incorporate product placement because the evil network told them to. Centering a Christmas episode around an iPod was more believable, and less egregious, than every time an ABC drama has ever tried to sell me a car. This is probably because despite the gradual prettying-up of the show, and the improbable stories, The Office reflected real life. The product placement just reflected our real-life use of, and desire for, new products.

The show's realism is not only what makes it funny, but also what makes it oddly tragic. People want what they can't have. Sometimes they have to make difficult decisions. Sometimes they grow up, or grow old, and their dreams change. This, I guess, is how I've grown up with the show. I've gone from just watching it to actually relating to it. I've gone from being a bright-eyed student to someone who listlessly checks her email and attends party planning committee meetings. I take strange delight in office pranks and Secret Santa. I spend my days under fluorescent lighting, wondering if this is my job or my career. But, if anything, this all reflects one last lesson I can learn from the show: that I should never be a victim of circumstance, and make the best of what I have. Everyone on the show seems to be happier when they do.

Real life is more likely to feel like the bad stuff drags on too long than wrap itself up in a perfect 2-hour finale. But I'm happy in this case that The Office is just a TV show.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

An Open Letter to Mindy Kaling

Dear Mindy:

First of all, I want to say that I really liked the first season of The Mindy Project. It's like, an extension of your book, you know? But not really, because it's fictionalized and stuff, and there are no secret jabs at that girl from 30 Rock... unless, is that what that whole subplot in the Thanksgiving episode was about? Anyway, not important, because you know I'm on Team Mindy, and not Team Random Blonde Girl (even though it totally sucks that she's nice!)

So far, a bunch of my favourite things about your book have shown up on The Mindy Project, like how much you love romantic comedies and how hilarious you are and the whole "plus-size" debate and the whole men vs. boys debate. I loved the random athlete cameos (even though it seems like the show may finally have closed the book on Josh, so that's probably over now.) I look forward to the episode that makes fun of guys for taking so long to put on their shoes (seriously, though what is up with that?). Also, I'd like to thank you profusely for putting Chris Messina on my television every week, for reasons that I don't need to elaborate on. (But since you asked: It's because I have like this illness where the only symptom is that I just really really want to marry Chris Messina. It's very serious and there is no cure. I was almost hospitalized during the triathlon episode. Regardless of that fact, it will never be deleted from my DVR probably ever, not even after they invent something to replace the DVR, which would be crazy, right?)

I'm writing you this letter because I need to apologize to you. Something really bad happened, and I feel awful about it, and I haven't really been able to talk about it. 
I had taken the dust jacket off of my copy of Is Everybody Hanging Out Without Me? because it was easier to carry around in my purse that way, but it also makes it harder to recognize when it's just lying on a table or something. A couple of weeks ago, there was this really gross spider in my room and I grabbed the closest expendable book to squish it. I really really thought that it was this crappy book I wasted $2 on called A Smart Girl's Guide to Sports, which is actually for dumb girls and talks more about hardwood floors than it does about basketball, but then after I had defeated the scariest spider ever, I realized that it wasn't. I'm really, really sorry for accidentally smearing your book with the remains of a spider. I'm just gonna keep the dust jacket on it from now on.

Do you think you'll be able to forgive me, and also maybe say hi to Chris Messina for me?


PS: I know Season 1 isn't over yet but I can't wait to see Season 2.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Playoff mode

The NHL playoffs make me want to be a better fan.

It's like how everyone treats the playoffs as a second season. Like how the players stick to even stricter diets and such, making sure to take care of the bodies that get bruised up on the ice. I'm trying to be in the best shape possible just to watch the postseason.

I started planning for the playoffs, when I normally don't plan for anything. At all.

I ran as many errands as I could before the playoffs started. Time is precious in the post-season, and it can't be wasted buying toothpaste or picking up drycleaning. I started my spring cleaning early - by which I mostly mean that I cleaned out my purse, anticipating a sea of discarded pub receipts and post-it notes, and three more tubes of lip gloss (in addition to the two that were already in there.) I did my taxes. I did my laundry. And now I'm a whole new person.

I wake up early. 
I get to work early so that I can leave early. 
I have my Starbucks card at the ready in case I don't sleep enough and need caffeine. 
I make my lunches the night before - cheap, healthy lunches to offset the emotional eating and pints of cider that hockey tends to cause. 
I plan my outfits the night before, too, and then actually wear them instead of pulling something else out of the closet at the last minute. 
I don't wear pencil skirts on game days, because I learned the hard way that they limit my mobility when trying to run home for puck drop. 
I keep track of which Habs T-shirts are lucky these days and which ones aren't.
I make to-do lists at work. 
I delegate instead of micromanaging, because it's more efficient. 
I use those organizer apps and figure out the quickest way and the best time to get everything done, instead of just forgetting to do something for two days in a row. 
I decide on the days and times that I go to the gym - it would be ironic for me to miss a workout because I'd rather watch a bunch of professional athletes charge towards each other at breakneck speeds. 
I do laundry and dishes and all that important stuff during commercial breaks and intermissions. 
I try to keep up with hockey news, despite a no-cellphones policy at my office. 
I try not to let the temporary insanity of sixteen fanbases get to me. 
I try to figure out how to watch all of the hockey and everything on TV and also sleep.

I'm basically turning into my best self. Maybe this is what Tracy Jordan meant when he said "Live every week like it's Shark Week."