It’s time to look at a show that is often regarded as the ultimate comedy show. You typically see other titles up there in people’s top 3 like Seinfeld and Parks and Recreation or if you go a bit further then Friends gets brought up too. The Office is often looked to as the absolute best though and while I haven’t watched the others, I can definitely believe it. It’s hard to see any of the others passing this one. The Mockumentary style that the show goes with is just perfect and the episodes are a blast. Parks and Rec seems to have a bit of a similar nature so that would probably be the highest on my list if I check out another sitcom at some point. This show certainly lasted quite a while so there was time for a lot of adventures.
Usually a long show would automatically mean a crazy long review. That being said, The Office is a little different from other long running shows I’ve seen in part because it is a comedy. Sure, there are story arcs and such but it’s different from a more plot based show. It’s not like I can discuss power levels, special effects, and the OST here because this show doesn’t really have that. It’s all about the humor and the characters so I’ll be focusing on that. Season 1 is supposed to be a pretty rough start so I see people mostly recommend the show starting with season 2. I can see the logic although I thought it started pretty strongly. Admittedly season 2 or 3 would probably be my favorite ones. The period from 2-7 is definitely the show at its peak though. Once Michael leaves there is a noticeable dip although the seasons are still pretty fun. Michael Scott just makes the show and I can directly say that it wouldn’t have been the same without him. This is one case where removing a single character makes a huge difference.
The general plot of the show revolves around a paper company named Dunder Mifflin. Michael Scott is the location’s manager and he supervises a quirky cast of characters. Some of them work super hard, some hardly work, and others are just here for the gossip. The location is often under hard times so there is quite a bit of downsizing. Scott looks at his crew at a big family so he does his best to always make every day a blast. As a result there are a ton of crazy shenanigans that go on throughout the show. You never really know what’s going to happen in the episode. Each episode also starts off with a quick skit for a few minutes and often times those are pretty incredible as well.
The show’s humor is similar to Airplane in a lot of ways. Crazy things happen a lot with the characters reacting as if things are normal. They’re all very exaggerated and yet relatable at the same time. It deals with every possible workplace scenario you can think of and you can see a little bit of each person you know in each character. They’re all cleverly crafted to the point where you can identify with just about all of the main characters. They all have their likable moments and by the end of the show you’ll probably like most of them. Even though every character does at least something crazy by the end of the series it’s easy to overlook it with how many quality moments they have.
At the same time, the show’s humor isn’t afraid to get a little crazy. It’s a tactic that definitely would not work for every title. Being able to use edgy humor has to be done extremely carefully or you’ll end up being either a mean spirited show or just one that is being obnoxiously inappropriate for no reason. This show manages to pull off its share of crazy moments. Not every joke lands of course as that is impossible for even the best of shows, but in The Office more jokes land than miss. The episodes always have something funny happening to the point where I can’t really think of a downright bad episode in those peak seasons. Granted, I marathoned quite a lot of them so splitting up episodes could get tricky.
I think part of the show’s weakness towards the end of its run once Michael left is because it shifted more into a serious romance drama. The majority of the seasons would deal with various romance plots like Jim and Pam or Angela and Dwight but they were the subplots and the main parts were still about the happy comedy. Some episodes at the end are just fairly grim. In particular I’d say Jim and Pam’s romance drama after getting together felt a lot more forced. They didn’t really need to have so many issues. Then you have the fact that just about everyone was cheating on each other with others towards the end. Technically it’s probably just a handful of people but the plots would come up so often that it would be a bit distracting.
Michael Scott is easily the best character of the series as I already mentioned a bit. Part of what makes him such a great character is how he is able to establish good banter with every character in the series. He always seems to want to do the right thing even if it all gets messed up. He can be a bit selfish and always has to be the center of attention but at least he does throw constant parties for his crew. His true intelligence also shows when he is backed into a corner. Michael doesn’t back down and at the end of the day he did live up to his title as the World’s Best Boss.
Then you have Dwight who is a great character due in large part to his banter with Jim. Outside of Michael their interactions are the best part of the series. Dwight is always trying to impress Michael and as a result can be pretty stuffy and literal about things. Jim can’t help but poke fun at him every chance he gets. Jim almost always instigates the fights but is definitely one of those characters who can dish it out but can’t take it. I still remember how he panicked after getting hit with a snow ball. Dwight’s definitely a lot of fun.
Jim’s one of the most entertaining characters as well. I like him best as a salesman though as when he became a boss Jim was a lot less likable. He became the office killjoy as he would keep squashing all of Michael’s plans. Eventually he went back to being a salesman and improved as a result. His plotline with Pam was definitely the most tragic one in the show for many episodes as she was already with Roy but he clearly liked her. They were best friends during this period but in a way that helped make it sting even more. One of the only times I was totally against Jim though was when he made a move on Pam when he knew she was taken.
Encouraging her to cheat is a pretty bad look. Then there’s the fact that both of them kept rebounding with other people until eventually landing each other again. The whole plotline is a bit sketchy and it’s why the romance in the show is its weakest element. Their banter was definitely at its best when they were friends. Pam was the receptionist for a while and had a lot of fun moments in that role. She would do her best to help salvage Michael’s image at times and did seem to have some interest in her work. She’s another character who was integral to the show’s structure for a while as she is the first person each character sees and gets a lot of interactions.
Ryan is another one of the best characters in the series. He’s a good example of the worst kind of worker you could have on your side. He’s super lazy and never gets any work done. Then when he gets a promotion the power goes to his head and he treats everyone terribly. The show does its best to always make him look pretty terrible and that’s part of why he’s so great. You know where you stand with him because everything he says is a lie. The guy definitely took a lot of hard hits in his career even going to jail at one point but he would always bounce back. He definitely had a nice rivalry with Jim and Pam at one point.
Then you have Andy who got a whole lot of character development throughout the series. He started out as a rival to Dwight, became a boss at one point, and then was just a guy who would add to the office atmosphere. I liked him quite a lot although his plot lines near the end of the show were rather odd. The whole growing a beard and getting on a boat plot was a low moment for him. He was at his best as Drew and also when he was a boss before getting pushed around by the next one. It’s crazy how many people wanted to step in as boss once Michael left. The power vacuum was crazy.
Robert Now we’re getting to the secondary characters who are always around and have a lot of character of course but get less of a role than the main ones. Stanley is the character who does his job but doesn’t like to participate in any of the extra activities. He sees his co-workers as just that, not friends. As a result he clashes with Michael quite a bit but can always get happy for food. He’s a solid character and seems easy to get along with. Then we have Kevin who grows less and less intelligent with each season. From the various characters he would be one of the weaker ones for me. He has some solid scenes as with every character of course but his humor moments are a lot more obvious and considerably less funny.
The weakest member of the cast is Meredith though. Her thing is that she will have an affair with anyone but that’s about it. Out of all the characters I feel like she is the only one who may not have had her own episode which is quite telling when you think about it. There’s just not much to her character. You can say the same for Creed to an extent but at least he has his shady past to help as a subplot. The guy is definitely pretty crazy so you never know what he’s going to do.
Oscar often plays it seriously compared to everyone else. When people suggest crazy ideas he tries to keep them all on track although he is not very successful at this. He’s definitely another funny character though. The series drags him through the mud by the end of the series with all the cheating he does though. The same can be said for Angela who consistently cheats on everyone throughout the series. Even once she gets married she started cheating a lot once again. She’s a very strict/serious character who has a hard time showing her emotions. Despite this character arc I wasn’t a huge fan of her either.
In general I still say the cast was really strong though because all of the true main characters were solid and so the secondaries could bounce off of them. One of the more unlikable characters was Phyllis who always seems to be trying to get revenge. She’s easily the most petty character and a lot of the time she gets away with it which is what makes her even worse. Part of why you don’t hold much against the other characters is because they usually get their comeuppance by the end of the episode. That rarely happens with Phyllis though.
Jan’s character goes in a very different direction than I could have possibly expected from her first appearances. She seemed like a tough boss who just got a little too emotionally involved. By the end of the series though we see that she was actually a bit insane and Michael sure put up with a whole lot. She’s a fun enough character but she was at her best before she officially got together with Michael. Then later on we have Holly who is basically a nice version of Jan. I don’t think her character worked because she was a little too perfect the whole time though.
Next up is Kelly who is the group’s main gossip. She loves to talk and talk but that helps her fit in even more with this group. Let’s face it, most of the characters in this show gossip a lot so that’s not unheard of. She gets in several affairs throughout the show so she’s always in the mix. Darryl is the only member of the Warehouse staff who gets a sizable role here and he’s cool. He had a pretty interesting subplot where he got his own office at one point and so it was good to see him move up.
Meanwhile Erin was another one of the new additions to the team. While she wasn’t quite as fun as Pam, Erin was pretty solid. She was a nice character as well. Gave on the other hand could come off as a bit of a creep the whole time. He does his best to defend corporate, but a corporate sympathizer was never going to look all that good. It was just never going to happen. Karen is a character who didn’t last long and got a pretty unfortunate ending. At the end of the day Jim really ditched her without much reason just because Pam was back in the mix. The whole show never seemed very fair to Karen and it’s unfortunate because she was fun. She was always willing to go along with the office hi-jinx so I think she had a lot of potential.
David Wallace is one of the big bosses in the series and so I thought he deserved a mention. He’s pretty patient with Michael. He may get exasperated a whole lot but at the end of the day he seems like a really nice guy. He was definitely the most reasonable boss. You also had Robert California but he was a little too odd. Even for this show he could be a bit crazy and most of the time I can’t really say that he was really entertaining. Part of the problem with him is that when push came to shove he got thrown around by a random lady who walked in the office and stole a job. Robert never recovered from that.
Finally we have Toby. Aside from his rather odd plot with Pam that would show up once in a while he was a blast to have around. His banter with Michael was possibly even better than Jim and Dwight although it’s very one sided. How much you enjoy the plot will depend on if you think it’s too mean spirited to Toby or not. I personally thought it was pretty hilarious but it’s not for everyone. Toby works for H.R. so absolutely nobody likes him in the series but Michael especially can’t stand the guy because it’s basically his job to stop all of Michael’s quick parties.
I think it goes without saying that the writing is phenomenal in this series. You’re pretty much guaranteed to find every episode hilarious. I really don’t think there will ever be another show as entertaining as this one. Ultimately it can’t get a higher score because it is held back a bit by the romance and some of the dicier scenes in the show, but it’s still got another great moments for me to easily recommend it. I would say maybe don’t watch the final two seasons though unless you really enjoy the other characters. I still did like the final two seasons but if the others were a 9 on the funny scale, those would be more of a 7. The final episode in particular is easily one of the worst ones in the series for me. As a finale it just fell flat.
Overall, The Office is definitely a blast. It’s really a totally different level of comedy. I’ve seen quite a few comedy shows in my day although they were usually pretty old or Disney type shows so I can’t say that I’ve really seen too many mainstream ones. The gimmick of the interview style just works really well. I see a lot of people say they binge watch the show over and over again and it definitely does have a lot of replay value. There are so many episodes you could easily run through them again and there’s even an Office Youtube account that uploads old clips every few days and still gets ton of clicks. If you like humor and think the premise sounds good then I would recommend it. The show can definitely get intense and keep in mind that the humor takes shots at everything. Nothing is off limits for the title, but once it gets going the show is hard to put down. If you’re on the fence with the show then starting at Season 2 makes sense and you can always go back to watch Season 1 later on but otherwise I’d say you’re fine with starting from the beginning.