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The enduring appeal of The Office

March 24, 2020 marks the 15th anniversary of a little show called The Office. You might’ve heard of it at least once in your life.

The show is set as a mock documentary that follows the story of an everyday paper company called Dunder Mifflin, in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and the employees who work there. To those of you who have never seen this show before, that might sound pretty boring, but that’s really the whole gimmick of the show. It’s supposed to be boring. That is, until you meet Michael Scott and Dwight Schrute. When it first started, The Office was just Michael Scott, the regional manager, acting like a complete doofus, being shit at his job, and everyone around him reacting accordingly. Kind of like David Brent.

Wait, who?

U.S. and U.K. versions

David Brent. The regional manager of the Slough Branch, of the Wernham Hogg Paper company. The Office has actually been around since 2001, originally a British sitcom created by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant. It aired for two seasons—between 2001 and 2002—so if we want to get technical, it’s the show’s 19th anniversary coming up. But we’ll put that aside for now. Sorry, Ricky.

While I do enjoy the occasional episode of the U.K. version, the American version of The Office is what really stands the test of time. And test of time, indeed. Fifteen years—that’s almost as long as I’ve been alive! Sheesh. And to think that the show, and all of its comedy, is just as popular now, as it was then. Hell, I would say it’s even more popular now, than it was, say, nine or 10 years ago. Thanks, Netflix.

The characters

Although Netflix probably has partial responsibility to The Office’s staying power, I’d say the main reason why the show is still a phenomenon to this day would be the characters. Mainly, the relatability with all the characters. Let’s take Jim Halpert, for example. At the start of the series, Jim is just your average every day working man, at a job that he can’t stand. His boss is a weirdo, his coworker (Dwight) is annoying beyond belief, and he has a crush on the receptionist (Pam), who is already dating someone else. If I were a gambling man, I’d bet at least half of you reading this can relate, in some form, to Jim Halpert.

And it’s not just the characters that keep this show popular either. It’s the people playing them. The actors do such a tremendous job at portraying these characters, that you just can’t imagine them being played by anyone else. Like, imagine if Dwight Schrute was played by Seth Rogen, or if Jim Halpert was played by Adam Scott. It just wouldn’t be the same, would it? I think a John Krasinski or a Rainn Wilson really does a great job at making these characters seem larger than life, and I doubt that anyone else would’ve been able to pull that off.

I want to say thank you to the cast, the characters, and the show in general. A big congratulations on 15 years of The Office.


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