I am about to say the four most basic words in the English language: I like “The Office.”
The worst part? It’s true.
But two months ago, I really didn’t like “The Office.” It’s not that I hated it; I just didn’t like it at all and thought it was terrible.
I also knew saying such a thing was likely to put a strain on relationships and possibly revoke my welcome as a member of Generation Z. So, I kept it to myself.
Of course, this was a rather irrational dislike, given that I had never seen a full episode of the show. Still, the highlights seemed pretty contrived to me. Ha! Look at this dumb, fat man drop a giant pot of chili. Then, get this, he slips again when he tries to clean it up! Watch as white-collar regional manager puts on a silly purple prison hat and pretends he is tough! It’s funny because he’s not actually tough (Just pretend I read those sentences in Kevin’s voice)!
Also on my list of grievances was the fact that liking one of the most popular sitcoms of the 2000s somehow counts as a personality. Really? You’re looking for the Jim to your Pam? That’s cute. You say, “how the turn tables,” every time the tables have turned? I’ll admit that one’s a little clever but definitely not original, especially since I’ve now heard “The Office” version of that idiom more than the actual one.
At this point, I should mention that on my first “Which character are you from ‘The Office?’” quiz, I received Toby. So if I am annoyed at “Jim to my Pam” comments, perhaps there’s another reason for my annoyance, but more on that later.
Whenever the show came up in conversation, I knew I was about to be left out of a lot of inside jokes. I knew exactly what to do. But in a much more real sense, I had no idea what to do. After proudly letting people know that I, Brian Beach, had never seen a full episode of “The Office,” I had to prepare to smile and nod at a bunch of references I didn’t get.
This was usually followed by an appalled “How have you never seen a full episode of ‘The Office?’” or “Oh, you have to watch it sometime!”
Sorry guys, but my lack of a Netflix account (and honestly general disinterest) in the series wasn’t going to let that happen.
That all changed during a Thursday night study session in late February.
My productivity was low, per usual, but having friends put on “The Office” certainly didn’t help, nor did the fact that I absolutely loved the show.
We watched the entire first season that night, and despite a warning that the season was one of the worst in the series, I found it wildly entertaining.
I later watched about a dozen more episodes before having to return to my Netflix-less home. And it just kept getting better.
I could go into an English class-style review of why the character development connected with me, or perhaps my psychoanalysis into why the show spoke to me, but that would do the series a disservice. All I can say is that I like it –– a simpleton reason that would normally bother me immensely.
I should warn anyone who can relate to my earlier annoyance with the show that the rest of this article will definitely annoy you. The me of two months ago would have hated the me that has written such basic, soulless blasphemy.
It is truly scary how much a TV show can permeate a personality. I have already caught myself reacting to others’ comments with the classic faces of Jim, a reaction that especially works well over Zoom since you don’t have to unmute yourself. Even worse, with hair salons closed everywhere, it won’t be long before my hairstyle looks just like his.
This may be a phase, and it may be best that social distancing has coincided with this phase. But the downside is that I now have plenty of time to watch just about every “The Office” YouTube clip possible, and write newspaper articles providing proof of this phase that will live on the Internet forever.
However, instead of watching episodes the way I would if I had Netflix, I have resorted to watching the series chronologically through deleted scenes. See, I’m not that basic.
I have drawn the line at spending any money on shirts or other “The Office” gear, so if you ever see me with a Schrute Farms T-shirt, I would suggest you check me into rehab, but as it turns out, you can't just check someone into rehab against their will. They have to do it voluntarily. They have to hit rock bottom. And for me, spending money on apparel from a nearly 10-year-old sitcom would be pretty close to rock bottom. All things considered, I guess that’s a pretty decent rock bottom to have.
To “The Office” fandom, I want to formally state my regret for my previous benightedness. But unlike Dwight in this scene, I really do mean it. I hope you all can accept me into your family, despite my quiz result. But I understand if that may be too much to ask.
Yet, even as a Toby, I cannot help but admit I love “The Office.” After all, there aren’t too many shows that always leave me satisfied and smiling.
Brian Beach is a freshman journalism major. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.