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On Occasion of the End of The Office

May 16, 2013

1. The context of the finale, from the show’s odd final two seasons to its importance in the TV landscape, is handled better than I would do by Grantland, the New York Times, and Matt Zoller Seitz at Vulture. Those are both great reads that discuss the show’s evolution, its comedic legacy, and its role in changing the way we watch TV (maybe that’s one I’ll piggyback on later on).

2. I vividly remember the premiere of The Office. It happened right at the end of my senior year of college and right after my roommates and I binge-watched (OK, so maybe TV habits haven’t changed that much) the original U.K. version. Like the two authors above, the first few episodes didn’t work the same way, largely because Steve Carell wasn’t Ricky Gervais. Ultimately, this was best for the show’s long run. 

3. Even if Michael Scott was the less abrasive David Brent, he still was incredibly frustrating. I went through periods of loving and hating the show, often at multiple points in a given season. I “quit” watching at least three different times over its run. I kept coming back because, like Michael Scott himself, the show kept finding glimpses of its brilliance. For Michael, the iconic moment in my head happens during the season that he’s deposed from his job, relegated to starting his own company in a closet-sized space, and then somehow not only won his job back but got Dunder Mifflin to buy him out. Despite all his shortcomings, Michael always found ways to redeem himself either personally or professionally. I don’t know if it’s how it actually played out, but I remember that storyline (season?) ending with Michael standing in the Dunder Mifflin office looking proud – not smug, not relieved, but proud to have his job back again.

4. If Tim was the “hero” of the U.K. version (Brent was either the antagonist, the fool, or its pathetic hero), Pam was the Americanized version’s hero (and, appropriately, Michael was both antagonist and mentor). I rooted for Jim by proxy of rooting for Pam, and in later seasons he became largely boring and childish. Looking back, it was Pam’s loyalty to Michael that made me give him second chances even when I (and I expect she) didn’t know why. It was how badly she wanted Jim to be a good husband that made me happy that he returned back to Scranton. And most of my favorite moments (Michael pulling off his microphone at the airport to hug Pam, Pam and Jim on the boat at Niagra Falls, and most recently Pam silently reading the note Jim never gave her in that first Christmas episode without letting the audience know what it said) involve her. I hope in the finale tonight, six months after the documentary airs, that she’s found happiness.

5. My favorite characters in the past few seasons have been Erin and Darrell, so I was thrilled to see Darrell get the deluxe goodbye orchestrated by Erin. (They are also the two characters I would most likely watch spin-offs based around). Dwight grew on me by the end to the point where I was very happy for him that his life came together over the final half of the season. I was also happy that Andy was first sent away on a boat for a large stretch of time and effectively sent out early. My contempt for Andy is only matched by my contempt for the mess that James Spader played on the show.

6. I originally hoped that Steve Carrel wasn’t going to come back for the finale, but I wasn’t really sure why. I’ve realized that if Michael never comes back, it leaves me safe to assume that he’s happy with Holly in Colorado and it keeps his ending (which is really the only part of the show I’d want to re-watch on Netflix) as “perfect.” I’m OK with him coming back now because I’m open to a less-than-perfect ending for him. After all, isn’t that more true to life?

7. Finally, The Office gets a blog requium and 30 Rock, my favorite show of the last decade, doesn’t only because I’m back writing now. I still miss 30 Rock every week and am in my third or fourth run through the past seasons on Netflix. I don’t really have an interest in re-watching The Office (save for random episodes on repeat, or very specific stretches around the Michael Scott Paper Company and Steve Carrel’s exit), but I’m still going to miss it. That said, it’s time for it to end.

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