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I'm Really Going to Miss The Office
By Gloria Diaz
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Fort Wayne Reader
I have a bad habit of not paying attention to pop cultural events as they are unfolding. In 2006, my kickboxing trainer told me about “The Office,” and said I'd probably enjoy it. Because my work schedule was crazy, I didn't get around to checking it out until 2011. I'd have the television on WFFT in the afternoons, and I got into the habit of watching it at 5 p.m. I don't think I've ever seen the show during primetime. But I plan on watching the very last episode in May.
I may have come to the show late, but I caught up in a hurry. Within a six week period of time late last year, I purchased seasons one through five and watched the episodes at home, greedily, by myself. Because we have DVD, the show won't ever really leave; I can (and do) watch it whenever I want. But there's something to be said about the collective experience. Watching a show with other people is one of those unique experiences. We all cheered in the theater when the Milliennium Falcon hit light speed. I remember watching the last episode of “Frasier” with my mother. We came to that show late as well, catching it in reruns and thoroughly enjoying it.
I could say so much about “The Office,” but I'm limited in terms of space. So I'll talk about the two things that really hooked me. Why is this show so popular? Because music is the universal language, and work is the universal task. Nearly everyone in the world is familiar with work. Whether it's an office, or an assembly line, a store or a classroom, work is our encounter with our quirky co-workers. It's a type of family, with all the weirdos you can think of. Who hasn't worked with a religious hypocrite, a martial arts weapons expert who is also incredibly gullible, a substance abuser, a clueless temp, or someone who graduated from college ten years ago, but can't stop talking about it? How many of you worked with a terminally perky woman who seemed like she had no personal life because she obsesses over celebrities? How about that grown man who seems to act like a 14-year-old boy? There always seems to be an older guy who is a character, a worker who flies under the radar (riding it out until he retires) a matronly looking woman who still has a few surprises in her and at least one homosexual who hasn't come out yet. “The Office” has universal characters, and that's part of the reason why it's so fun to watch.
The other reason (and it's not that there's just two reasons the show is good; I just can't talk about them all in this column) is watching the whole Pam and Jim romance unfold. These are the two people in “The Office” you genuinely are rooting for. They are the type of people you want to have a great life, because they are such nice people, and you want good things for them. In the twenty-eighth episode of the show we get the money shot: Jim tells Pam he's in love with her, and after a phone call to her mother to discuss the situation, Jim interrupts the call and kisses Pam. A nation swoons. And yes, I cried. I ached for Jim; his confession noble and dignified and sensitive. Jim's tear is probably one of the more epic shows of emotion on television. Because it's television and not real life, Jim does NOT pick up a gun and shoot Roy, Pam's fiance, and take Pam hostage, after she tells him she's going to go through with the wedding. Jim isn't happy, but his actions spoke louder than words, and in the first episode of season three, we find that Pam did indeed call off the wedding. But Jim ended up in Stratford, and gets involved with another woman. We ache for Pam when the Stratford branch closes and Jim comes back, but with his girlfriend Karen. After an incredible build up, Jim and Karen interview for a job at corporate. Season three's finale showed Pam talking to the camera, saying she was going to be okay; showing a stiff upper lip and claiming that she and Jim were just too much alike. Meanwhile, during Jim's interview at corporate, he's going through some paperwork and finds a note from Pam, asking that he not forget about them when he's famous, and a gold medal made out of a yogurt lid. (Flonkerton, anyone?) Finding the items distracts Jim, but we assume he aces the interview. During Pam's soliloquy, Jim is shown driving back to Scranton by himself, and he looks like he's been crying. He gets back to the office, interrupting Pam (and apologizing, of course) and asking if she's free for dinner. She says yes, and we see a woman go from facing the world bravely despite a seemingly disappointing future to a giddy young woman in love. Jim, once again, has caught Pam off guard, but this time, it's in the best possible way. Suddenly the future is bright, and Pam's last words in this episode are, “I'm sorry, what was the question?” The episode ends with the beginning of one couple, and the end of Ryan and Kelly, since Ryan gets the job at corporate. However, we haven't seen the last of him. I can't watch the episodes “Casino Night” (the season two finale) and “The Job” (the season three finale) without dissolving into tears.
I plan to watch seasons six, seven, and eight before I see the series finale. I want to be as caught up as I can, so I can watch it and see what happens to everyone. I want to see it at the same time the rest of the nation does. I don't watch a whole lot of television, but of the sitcoms that began during the decade of the oughts, I have to say this is the best one I've seen; the one I will measure other sitcoms by. Why?
Because it's just that good. And that's what she said.