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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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3. Those guys in the warehouse? They might be smarter than you.

One of the best narratives in the entire series was the trajectory of Daryl Philbin, the paper company's warehouse foreman who perpetually has to put up with the racism and various other stupidities of Michael Scott. Played by Craig Robinson, Daryl was consistently one of "The Office"'s best characters, playing on Scott's white expectations by clowning him so hard, all the time, Michael none the wiser. The most classic: when Michael asks if the mild-mannered, working class Daryl has ever been in a gang, Daryl feigns tough, claiming that he'd been in not only the Bloods, the Crips and the Latin Kings, but also the Warriors and the Newsies. Daryl's so clearly smarter than Michael (to be fair, so are 99% of the other employees in the office, too), but a few seasons in he develops a somewhat bemused tolerance for his blunders. And eventually, Daryl gets his: the CEO recognizes him for his work, gives him an office in The Office, and he's recognized and promoted for his ideas and work. It took a long time, but it's a lesson in workplace equality—and you can tell that in those latter episodes, both the writers and the actors reveled in getting Michael Scott's guff with Daryl's consistently superior ideas. 

4. Agritourism is real.

One of the show's most successful, surprising, and innovative points was the character development of the exceedingly odd Dwight Schrute, played brilliantly by Rainn Wilson. Aside from the concept that Dwight owned and lived on a beet farm with his somewhat freakish cousin Mose, that Dwight's favorite movie is The Crow and he claims to have slayed a werewolf, that he's a survivalist/SecondLife enthusiast who claimed to have first flown an airplane at the age of four: Dwight Schrute is a woman magnet, enticing just about any lady he encounters with his off-kilter and unlikely masculinity. There is a rumor that once "The Office" ends, there will be a Dwight Schrute spin-off about his life on the beet farm. Even if he weren't one of the show's most popular and beloved characters, it'd be worth creating that show just to avoid wasting all the intricate, incredible, and unending personal oddities the writers have crafted for him. Screw a spin-off, Dwight Schrute should have a theme park.

 

5. How to give the best deadpan.

There is currently no existent YouTube supercut splicing all "The Office"'s into-the-camera deadpan looks, and this is a travesty of the internet. Throughout the course of eight years, the sitcom's conceits that they're constantly being filmed by a crew of documentarians, who will apparently, finally be revealed in season nine. This set-up has provided so many looks of non-plussed, eye-rolling bemusement leveled straight at the viewer that it's almost been a master class in comedic timing. Indeed, since consuming every episode of the office, I personally feel better at telling stories, knowing exactly when to pause expectantly (Michael), when to raise an eyebrow (Kelly), when to serve excited incredulity (Andy, Erin), when to serve over-it incredulity (Jim, Pam), and when to look smug and self-satisfied (Dwight Schrute!). If that's all we ever get out of it, those looks will be forever burned in America's minds, as comedically significant as George Burns' cigar or Richard Pryor's smirk. Thanks for the memories, thanks for the deadpans. 

Julianne Escobedo Shepherd is an associate editor at AlterNet and a Brooklyn-based freelance writer and editor. Formerly the executive editor of The FADER, her work has appeared in VIBE, SPIN, New York Times and various other magazines and websites.