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WHY I LOVE “THE OFFICE”? 10 Reasons for My Love of US Version of the Series

Are you fans of The Office? Or maybe this style of filming, this type of humor, these kinds of characters don’t resonate with you?

Szymon Skowroński

29 August 2023

the office us

To a large extent, I’m not a big fan of sitcoms. I’m annoyed by the overuse of mockumentary style in modern cinema and television. I don’t really get attached to TV show characters. Rarely do I watch entire series that consist of more than one, maybe two seasons. I worked in corporations for six out of ten years of my professional career, and I hope I never go back there. Probably that’s why The Office instantly became my favorite comedy series. Against my preferences, I gave a chance to the first few episodes, mainly because of Steve Carell’s name. I stuck around, and the Dunder Mifflin Scranton branch employees became regular guests in my home.

The following text pertains to the American version of the series.

Characters of Flesh and Blood

The show’s office space is filled with odd, eccentric, often annoying, or even silly characters. The initial episodes focus on mocking their personalities, beliefs, and habits. Yet, over time (and several dozen episodes later), it becomes evident that each character has been treated with due attention by the writers. They gain depth, nuances, and as their life stories unfold before us, it turns out that each of them is interesting in their own way and can be liked. The grumpy Stanley initially serves as the central object of politically incorrect associations and jokes about black people, but then he proves to be mean but strong and determined, with very distinct principles. Malicious and petty Angela transforms into a self-assured woman who can use any means to achieve her goals. The foolish behavior of Andy evolves into that of a sensitive and talented individual, and so on. Each escapade shows characters with more ambiguity and depth than many good dramas. And despite knowing them, there’s always room for surprises and unexpected twists.

Dwight Kurt Schrute

A separate paragraph is due for the character of Dwight, my personal favorite. Unpleasant, obnoxious, antisocial, mean, rude, and not very likable paper salesman is essentially the face of the show today (alongside its star, Steve Carell, who doesn’t appear in the last two seasons). He appeared in all 188 episodes and evolved from a secondary antagonist to a dominant presence in the show. Dwight was consistently portrayed as the black sheep, a counterbalance to the likable and “normal” Jim Halpert. Eventually, it’s revealed that his complicated and unconventional moral system, consisting of misogyny, sexism, workaholism, a love for weapons, and demeaning his coworkers, is something we love him for. Dwight lacks a sense of humor (he’s descended from German immigrants), although he sometimes says or does something funny. He doesn’t care about others’ opinions of him, will do anything to achieve his dreams, and sees himself as the center of the universe. It turns out that such an attitude brings him many benefits. As the series progresses, Dwight becomes the owner of the building housing the titular office, wins the hearts of women that his colleagues can only envy, and eventually achieves the coveted position of regional manager, which he fought for from the beginning. The American dream in a very original form!

Breaking the Fourth Wall

The show’s characters are aware that they are constantly being observed by the prying lens of the camera – not only during work but also in private situations. In addition to their direct statements and thoughts directed at the viewer, they often acknowledge situations with subtle glances into the camera. Jim Halpert is the master of this gag, and his look often conveys more than a hundred words could. Jim knows exactly which of his immature boss’s ideas will be disastrous, and he gives knowing glances into the camera whenever he senses an impending failure. His success rate is one hundred percent. On the flip side is Michael Scott – the manager and central character of the show. Michael looks at the camera seeking mercy for his embarrassing comments and behavior. In his eyes, you can see a plea for understanding. Strangely enough, in most cases, I was understanding of him.

Details and Consistency

The Office takes place in relatively small office space, with occasional outings to restaurants, other office spaces, characters’ homes, etc. The creators took care to fill the modest and simple sets with tasteful details. Pay attention to motivational posters, framed photos, items on desks, Post-it notes placed in almost every possible spot, and the small personal items of each of the employees. Everything has its order and consistency. Depending on the development of the plot, these little details take on new meanings. An example of this is the recurring background motif in the early seasons of a serial killer operating in the town where the company is located. Initially, we only learn about his existence from newspaper clippings read by the characters and internet articles visible on various occasions, but it never takes center stage. Later, the issue gains momentum, and the killer becomes a central theme for a while. The fact that his motive wasn’t pulled out of thin air but was subtly foreshadowed is incredibly satisfying – once again, applause for the writers. On this occasion, it’s also worth noting the show’s opening credits. Just before the title card, there’s a shot of Michael reaching for an award on his desk. To see this shot in the show, we have to wait… seven seasons!

Guest Roles

Throughout nearly two hundred episodes, the show featured many supporting characters played by equally interesting performers. Often, they were cast in roles that were very atypical for them. In The Office we’ve seen Amy Adams, Kathy Bates, Will Ferrell, Idris Elba, Cloris Leachman (Oscar winner for The Last Picture Show), Jack Black, Jessica Alba, Will Arnett (voice of BoJack Horseman), Christian Slater, Jim Carrey, James Spader. An iconic moment is, of course, the meeting of the two managers of the show’s office – Steve Carell and his British “father,” Ricky Gervais. The character of Toby Flenderson, the HR representative, is also interesting. Hated by Michael, ignored by the rest of the employees, a bit pathetic and pitiable, Toby appears in the background in many episodes, played by… one of the producers and writers of the series – Paul Lieberstein. A great example of self-distance!

Jim's Office Pranks

One of the recurring motifs of the story is the rivalry and mutual dislike between Jim and Dwight. In the early seasons, Jim is laid-back and not very concerned about work, which is the complete opposite of Dwight’s attitude. Jim makes his work hours enjoyable by playing pranks and practical jokes on Dwight. His creativity and industriousness in this area reach new heights. My favorite prank is the one where Jim comes to work dressed and groomed exactly like Dwight. Dwight, lacking humor and situational awareness, starts lecturing about the seriousness of identity theft. Jim, amused, imitates Dwight, and when he hears Dwight’s threatening words, Jim stands up with a cry of “Michael!” and goes to complain to the office manager. This is typical behavior for Dwight, so the punchline of the joke comes from something entirely expected: Dwight stands up and with the same cry goes to the same place for the same purpose.

"That's What She Said!"

One of the favorite lines of the immature manager, Michael Scott, is “that’s what she said.” Michael uses it when he hears something that, in his opinion, a woman could say during an intimate moment. So every time Michael hears someone talking about something “big and juicy,” he can’t help but deliver this dry line. Whenever there’s a mention of thrusting movements or the release of some substance onto a surface, Michael triggers the “that’s what she said” protocol. What makes this interesting is the finesse and sensibility with which the writers use this motif. The line is said in similar circumstances, but its use each time is original and fits the situation. Sometimes the line is said out loud, other times Michael mutters it to himself. Jim knows about Michael’s “condition” and prompts him with the right lines when the manager should keep his tongue in check. Finally, after several seasons, other characters are aware of the line’s popularity and start using it themselves. The most charming and amusing is its utterance by usually polite and proper Pam (Beesly, later: Halpert), who is incredibly proud of finding the right context and saying the line before anyone else does.

Political Incorrectness

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I’m sure that today this show wouldn’t make it. Producers are sensitive to jokes about sexuality, race, religion, etc. The Office makes fun of everything, but in its essence, the only thing being insulted is people’s stupidity and ignorance, especially one person – Michael. The on-screen manager is a veritable fountain of stereotypical beliefs, limited knowledge, or incorrect thoughts, but it’s his character that’s truly the butt of the jokes. However, there are a few things today that no one would agree with. For example, in one episode, new employees arrive at the office. One of them is a young African American from a poor neighborhood. Michael receives information from management that one of the new hires is the subject of a manhunt. In a fit of mission and social justice, he decides to prove to everyone that the suspicion about this black guy is a result of stereotypical thinking about his community. He doesn’t even care that no one initially suspects the young, black, unknown employee of being a criminal. Michael embarks on a crusade against blindness and stereotypes. He forces his coworkers to acknowledge that “black” doesn’t mean “bad.” However, it turns out that the African American worker was indeed accused of theft and was the subject of a manhunt… Similar treatment can be expected for homosexuals, Asians, Indians, Mexicans, and representatives of all other now “untouchable” minorities. The key is a sense of distance!

Brief Moments of Gravity

Despite its entertaining, mocking, and often satirical nature, “The Office” had a few serious moments. This is particularly evident in the case of Michael, who over seven seasons slightly matures and grows somewhat wiser. Don’t expect a dramatic transformation; it’s a comedy from start to finish, but the later version of Michael reacts surprisingly well in a few situations where he would have acted foolishly before. When he realizes that his colleague Holly is his ideal partner, his behavior becomes slightly more rational. In a few scenes, you can see a hint of understanding and seriousness on his face (for which Steve Carell’s brilliant performance deserves applause). My favorite moment is when Jim, recently chosen as the assistant manager, confides in Michael about his thoughts on his new responsibilities. He admits that managing people and the office is more difficult than it seems. Michael has a short conversation with him, and during it, I couldn’t help but feel that the actors – Carell and Krasinski – momentarily stepped out of their roles, and their dialogue was completely serious. Of course, after a moment, everything returned to normal, but there were a few of these fleeting moments, and their placement and evanescence only added to their charm.


Are you fans of The Office? Or maybe this style of filming, this type of humor, these kinds of characters don’t resonate with you? Have you seen the British version, and do you think the American one doesn’t measure up? Let us know in the comments. Your favorite episodes, scenes, and lines are welcome.

Szymon Skowroński

Szymon Skowroński