Some crazy things happened this past week: “Moonlight” won Best Picture at the Oscars, I learned to stir-fry at the Deece oh and JIM AND PAM GOT ENGAGED! What a ride it’s been.
You may be wondering why I am reviewing a television show that had its debut in 2005 and ended in 2013. I’m wondering that too, as I sit here consumed by midterms and the dread of finding spring break plans. “The Office” has become a sanctuary for me, where I can drown my sorrows in Jim and Pam’s heteronormatively beautiful love and Michael’s horrendously funny but terrible humor. As Netflix asks me if I’m still alive 10-episodes deep into a new season, I glance up to wonder the same thing.
You may ask, why on earth did it take you so long to start this show? Obviously the answer is it’s way too mainstream for my tastes. I was much too busy watching other, lesser known works like “Gilmore Girls” or “Game of Thrones” to bother with a series so entrenched in popular culture.
Truthfully, I, like so many others who are told by all of their friends, family and semi-acquaintances that a certain television show is a “must-see,” had my doubts. “Is it really that good?” I would ask. “I heard it gets bad at the end.” Like an emo eighth grader that screams at their mother that this isn’t a phase, I strived to continue being that person that had just never seen “The Office.” Eventually it just takes some wearing down and a good case of Netflix not adding anything new in days to make you finally click “watch first episode.”
In case you didn’t know, “The Office” is really good. Like, really good. Better than I expected and then some. The show somehow manages to take a concept so seemingly boring and menial—office workers in a Pennsylvanian paper company—and turn it into something vibrant and joyous and utterly hilarious.
Why would somebody want to watch a show that details minute activities that many Americans work during the day doing? Because it’s about those special relationships that are formed during those coffee breaks and the beautiful people that you may find to be sitting at the desk right next to yours (Jim and Pam, I see you).
Watching Steve Carell have the time of his life riffing with Rainn Wilson or seeing Mindy Kaling go from a background character to one of the funniest people on the show has been a complete joy. I thought I would get tired of it, but every time John Krasinski stares into the camera I burst out laughing. Do yourself a favor and rewatch the scenes where he is in the background, preferably out of focus. Chances are you can just make out his smug eyes staring right back at you. (Aside: Is there a count somewhere of how many times Jim Halpert looks into the camera in all nine seasons? C’mon internet, help a girl out here.)
As a massive fan of “Parks and Recreation,” I thought I had seen all that could be done with the mockumentary formula, but “The Office” takes it a step further. The series relishes in its genre, coming up with new and innovative ways to work within the style each episode. Unlike other comedy series in the fly-on-a-wall genre, the camera is a vital participant on the show, and some of the best jokes are ones inspired by camera/character mishaps.
Of course, the show is by no means perfect. Some of the episodes are duds. I have a personal vendetta against Andy Bernard, who could never replace the impeccably terrible Michael Scott, and while Jim and Pam are adorable and perfect for each other, they are one of the whitest, most heterosexual couples I have ever seen on television. As sitcoms go it’s basically healthy junk food, like choosing Chipotle over McDonald’s.
But “The Office” is also the kind of show that I think we all need right now. At its core, it is a series about people finding the light in the messy parts of life. Like when Oscar offers Angela a place to stay after her gay senator husband announces his affair on live television, or when Jim makes Pam that video that had all of our hearts melting to pieces.
Suffice to say, the next four years in politics will be, at the very least, messy. There are only so many times I can pick up my phone to read a CNN notification that the world is about to end before I start to officially lose it. As soon as I open up Google to search for supplies for my underground bunker I know it’s time to take a break, turn off my brain for 22 minutes and watch some amusing hijinks by Dwight Schrute, or see what disgustingly romantic Jim and Pam moments will be conjured up this week. “The Office” truly is in itself a form of comfort, and especially for a distraught, perpetually stressed college student.
It is imperative that every citizen stay engaged, alert and angry about the state of our nation and the rise of hatred around the world. But sometimes we all need a little break. Whether that break for you is an episode of your favorite TV show, catching that award-winning film you’ve been meaning to see or grabbing a pint of Ben & Jerry’s from the retreat, be sure to give yourself the chance to breathe. Read a New York Times article about how Congress is gearing up to abolish The Affordable Care Act, and then wash it down with some nice Kurt Vonnegut. It’s going to be a long road ahead. (If you haven’t seen it go watch “Moonlight.” Stop reading this article right now and see it. Go. “The Office” came out 15 years ago why are you still here.) With that, dear reader. I bid you adieu, grab my pint of Ben & Jerry’s and click play on the next episode.