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5 Things "The Office" Taught Us

This season will be the last for NBC's beloved workplace sitcom. It won't have been for naught.
 
 
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Photo Credit: NBC

 

 

"The Office" is closing. Last week it was announced that the forthcoming season will be the last for the beloved sitcom, which for almost a decade has regaled audiences with tongue-in-cheek, knowing-dumb humor and has changed the face of comedic television. Greg Daniels, executive producer, told Variety ,"This year feels like the last chance to really go out together and make an artistic ending of the show.”

Of course he's right—the loss of Steve Carrell as bumbling boss Michael Scott last season was an unrecoverable blow to the dynamic of "The Office," and though the cast is packed with more prodigious talent than almost any other comedy on television, the post-Carrell narrative never seemed to gel. Last season was mildly funny, but had the effect of a beer sitting open in the fridge for a couple of days—the remnants of flavor were there, but there was no fizz. The savvy actors felt it: once season eight kicked in and the response flatlined, they started dropping like flies. James Spader, whose character was invented to fill in the Carrell-sized hole, announced he'd leave after one season, even though his appearances were already nominal. Mindy Kaling and BJ Novak, both writers on the show as well as actors, said they were leaving too, the former to work on her eponymous new sitcom. Their departure is certain to leave a giant gap in season nine, their characters stand-outs in the ensemble cast, with Kaling's ditzy-smart, uber-girly girl character constantly pining after, then manipulating, Novak's corner-cutting hotshot. The only hope is that Daniels is correct—that there's still time to save the show from an undignified end, and that the writers and actors will come through with a burst of energy in the clutch. 

However, even if next season ends up becoming a hot mess, we'll still have so much we learned from the beautiful years prior—from workplace economics, to besting a rival coworker.

1. True love is real.

Somehow "The Office" managed to drag out a ships-passing-in-the-night love story much longer than was logically tenable and never once played it too corny or predictable. Specifically, three years into the series were spent slowly building the tension between Jim and Pam, with the possibility of their union ambiguous the whole time. Yet even Jim's short relationship with a smart and sweet-faced character played by Rasheeda Jones couldn't dampen audiences' yearning for the star-crossed lovers to unite. So when it finally happened, and Jim and Pam began to blossom into a family, it was a small miracle that they didn't cheese it up beyond belief—and it relied entirely on the long shot of the spying documentary cam, peering at Jim on bended knee with a ring in the rain through the dissonant pane of a car window. Who says CCTV can't be artful? 

2. Don't sleep with your superiors.

While there was plenty of workplace intercourse (ahem), it was refreshing to see that most of the power-imbalance relationships involved males reaching up, particularly in the case of Michael Scott, who enters a relationship with Jan Levenson, Vice President of Sales at Corporate Headquarters, which is eventually consummated during a ridiculously trashy vacation at a Sandals chain resort in Jamaica. All goes along well until Jan gets downsized, begins milking Scott for his savings, which go in part to her boob job. Eventually, because she was always at least subconsciously thinking she was dating beneath her to begin with, she dumps him, but not before breaking his heart. Jan and Michael's interactions were always deeply hilarious, but the undercurrent of power-imbalance was a lesson to heed indeed.