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.

No comments:

Post a Comment

If you're a spambot, I'm just going to stop you right now. Your message will be deleted, so don't even bother, okay? Okay.