The Office

November 20, 2007
By Julie Hays, Nicholasville, KY

When life gets tough, sometimes you just need something to loosen things up. At least, “That’s what she said,” as the manager featured in The Office, Michael Scott, would say. The Office (Thursdays on NBC at 9 P.M.) is a sitcom that intrudes in on the lives of the employees at the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company in Scranton, Pennsylvania, while creating a parody of the modern American office that anyone of any trade can enjoy. Viewers are able to watch the obscure events that take place in the workers’ lives as they strive for friendship, love, promotions, and learning to deal with their grown up, yet naïve boss. The Office is by far the best sitcom on the air, and it sets the standard for TV comedy because of its memorable and cunning characters, the “get-a-laugh” plot, and the natural and realistic writing that is used to portray such strange happenings.

Each of the characters in The Office is like a piece of a puzzle; without one of them, the show would never be complete. Michael, for example, sees himself as the office “funnyman”, and he goes far out of his way to make a joke. Employee Jim Halpert has an ability to make friends easily, but he doesn’t hesitate to play pranks on his coworkers, especially when his desk mate, Dwight, is hindering his ability to work by using a foghorn when he makes a sale. Dwight could easily be observed as one of Michael’s most trusted workers, and he goes to the extreme to make his job more exciting, whether it be by pretending to be a detective that is solving a crime, helping Michael survive in the woods, or hiding weapons around the office “just in case”. These characters definitely leave his or her mark in the viewer’s mind, and their distinctive personalities stand out to make you look forward to the next time that Michael tries to surprise someone on their birthday, or when Kelly “talks smack” to Pam about Jim being terrible at Ping-Pong.

The plot of The Office is captivating in the most humorous sense of the word. Simple themes, such as not needing to prove yourself to others, are blown to epic proportions, like when Michael learns that trying to survive in the woods will not show Ryan and the other office workers that he’s a real man. A few episodes focus around Michael’s struggle to deal with the fact that Ryan got promoted instead of him, and he constantly tries to outdo his superior, like trying to throw a better website launch party. Every action that Michael takes always seems to have an effect on at least one of the other employees, and they have to deal with the silly mistakes that he makes. In one episode, he ordered pizza, but the delivery boy wouldn’t accept Michael’s coupon, so he held the boy hostage until he gave him his discount. Everyone in the office was terrified that they would become accomplices of their boss’s federal crime, and they continually tried to talk Michael out of what he was doing. Even once the workers get out of these strange situations, you wonder if any other issues will arise as a result of the previous problem that was left to be solved.

Characters and plot are incredibly important, but these elements would be nothing without the ingenious writing. When Michael watches a movie, he ends up having some of the strangest interactions with his secretary, Pam, like when he started to portray Meryl Streep’s character in The Devil Wears Prada. As the “world’s best boss” (the engraving on the mug that Michael bought for himself), Michael thinks that the workers are constantly enthusiastic about the changes he wants to make to their branch of the paper company, when they are really just rallied up about a little moving box that floats around the television screen. You would think that all of the weird, and usually unusual things that go on during the thirty-minute segments wouldn’t ever seem natural, but the writing makes everything seem like it’s all perfectly normal, and judging by the things that these office workers go through daily, they probably are just that. The conversations between characters are written to be realistic, and the employees are able to carry on with their lives even in the most abnormal of times.

This sitcom has been off to the right start ever since its first episode. Even now that the show is in its fourth season, The Office continues to shine as the brightest star on television with characters that you quickly grow attached to, an encompassing, yet hilarious plot, and the brilliant and humanistic writing. The show is timeless, and I doubt that the end of the road for this bandwagon will come anytime soon. You would be wrong to not watch it, and there’s no way you will regret giving this comedy a chance once you erupt in laughter from all of the characters’ crazy antics.

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