Along with Dunder Mifflin, Michael Scott, and “that’s what she said,” “The Office” has become a household name in the United States due to the major success of the American adaptation of the British original. “The Office,” as many know, depicts the generic (and outrageous) lives of the employees at the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company in Scranton, Pa. Although “The Office” sees consistently high ratings, it comes as no surprise that by the seventh season, the immature antics of Michael Scott (Steve Carell), the rivalry between Dwight Shrute (Rainn Wilson) and Jim Halpert (John Krasinski) and the usual romantics begin to feel stale.
Don’t get me wrong, I still tune into “The Office” every Thursday — or Friday on Hulu if I am completing homework — to keep up to date with Jim and Pam’s (Jenna Fischer) relationship, witness the latest “that’s what she said” moment or even Ryan the Temp’s (B.J. Novak) latest scheme. But Steve Carell’s stated departure from the series after this season leads me to believe that there is a reason why NBC has yet to renew the series for an eighth season.
The parting of the show’s protagonist, Michael Scott, is not the only reason “The Office” should end the series this season on a high note. I no longer find any aspect of “The Office” new or original. Dwight and Jim still have this absurd rivalry, Jim and Pam are married with a child, which eliminates the excitement of a possible Jim-Pam relationship, and Michael Scott no longer comes off as ridiculous and funny, only irrational and immature.
The Dwight and Jim rivalry can be seen in the pilot episode when Jim famously puts Dwight’s stapler in green Jell-O. It is clear from the very first episode the relationship these two share. Throughout the progression of the series, this rivalry not only becomes stale, but even turns malicious. The misplacement of Dwight’s office supplies in Jell-O and vending machines can only sustain humor for so long. The apex of this rivalry appears in the most recent episode, “Classy Christmas” (7.10-11). Within this annual Christmas episode, Jim begins his usual antics by throwing a snowball in the face of Dwight, because Dwight mocked Jim’s happiness due to the winter’s first snow. Of course, Dwight reciprocates Jim’s attack and escalates the situation by locking Jim out of the office, ambushing him with snowballs, and then relentlessly nailing Jim in the face with snowballs until blood is drawn while Jim lays on the ground. The rest of the episode keeps Jim in a perpetual state of fear and apprehension until, at the end of the day, Jim runs to his car in a parking lot full of snowmen (one of which Dwight was hiding inside) shaking with fear while Dwight recites the line, “In the end, the greatest snowball isn’t a snowball at all. It’s fear.” This exchange, and lack of resolution, exemplifies the relationship between these two characters. No longer do Jim and Dwight banter and tease one another — they are resorting to malice and harm. Harm for harm’s sake can never pass as comedy.
As for Michael Scott, it is well known that Steve Carell will end his critically acclaimed role at the end of this season, and since “The Office” has not been cancelled, it can only be assumed that there is a replacement on the way for the protagonist. In almost every episode, the writers have established the possibility for any of the main characters to take over. Kelly Kapoor (Mindy Kaling) went to special training for minority executives and constantly refers to being pampered for leadership. Darryl Philbin (Craig Robinson) makes huge progress with winning the favor of top executives with a genius business idea involving the synthesis of truck drivers and salesmen, showing his managerial potential. Jim has always been seen as the next in line to the manager position, along with Dwight’s desire for power (although, Dwight’s irrationality inhibits the reality of his actually becoming manager). And then there is the new traveling salesman, Danny Cordray (Timothy Olyphant), who joins Dunder Mifflin and is well known to be an effective salesman. Each of these characters can easily have future storylines involving a promotion to manager of the Scranton branch, which only brings ambiguity to whether or not audiences will see an eighth season of “The Office.”
I understand that I have depicted a very dark image of “The Office,” which is hardly what I intend. I still love this show. I look forward to it every week, as it provides a half hour of comedy and another chapter to the story that I have kept up with since I was in grade school. The writing remains clever and the characters and plotlines remain continuous and stable. Like millions of other Americans, I will continue to watch “The Office” since I can barely stay in my seat when it’s on. That’s what she said.
Steven Piccione is a sophomore in the College. He can be reached at [email protected]. Hulu Saxa appears every other Friday in the guide.
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