The Office Is Not Realistic!

My friend Andrew asks a pertinent question about The Office, you guys:

“Is the conceit of the program still that they’re being filmed for a documentary? Does that even make sense anymore?”

That is a good question, and I think the answer, as painful as this is going to be to a bunch of you, is no.

The concept for the US version of the show has always been a little lacking. In England, prior to the original Office, there were a handful of actual BBC documentaries (Hotel, Airport) about people in their workplace. Slice of life stuff. Which sets up the humor and reality of The Office beautifully. We didn’t have that here, so already the depth of the joke is self-contained in the show. Yes, we recognize the documentarian (or mockumentarian, which I think is offered as an MFA at Tisch now) tropes, but it doesn’t have the rooted cultural cachet.

Moreover, by ending the original series after 12 episodes (plus two follow-up specials), it was totally plausible that these people had their lives invaded by a documentary crew for a year, and then went about their average, well-intentioned lives. Here, that’s not the case. The documentary crew just won’t leave? Who’s paying for this? Who’s watching this? And why wouldn’t the real Michael Scott, or the real Jim and Pam, decide that they no longer wanted to willingly play a part in this excruciating expose of the painful minutae of their lives? In the specials that aired after the original series, David Brent talked about what life was like after being made a fool on national television. But we’re expected to believe that three years in, no one mocks Michael Scott openly on the street? The shame of their broadcast romantic exploits hasn’t forced Jan into an alcoholic shame spiral?

I don’t know how to fix this, The Office. I’m just nervous that you’re going to take something wonderful and drive it’s face into the dirt.

Still funny though.

Steve Carell is so funny, I’m surprised no one’s ever heard of him.