What kept a paper company interesting for 9 seasons?
The Office remains one of the most beloved sitcoms of all time. Starting out as a mockumentary about ordinary people doing mundane tasks at a paper company, The Office evolved into a meaningful story that resonated with audiences everywhere. With an ensemble cast that focuses on about 15 characters (some having more screen time than others), it could have been easy for the show to lose its grasp.
But the U.S. version paid more attention to something that the U.K. version didn’t—the secondary characters. Because of the humanization of these people on screen, the show made itself more about their stories and less about the novelty of an American office job. It gave audiences something to invest in and relate too—connections made within the workplace.
Check out this video from The Take that goes deeper meaning to the ending of The Office.
What do these connections have to do with the ending? Well, everything. The show’s initial start was filled with what it had promised—finding humor in the everyday. You know, like heading to your 9-to-5 job and dealing with your obnoxious boss for not nearly enough money? But that general writing approach was only sustainable for so long.
Over the sitcom’s 9-season run, we watched the friendships and romantic relationships find themselves at the core of this show. Those connections are what gave the show the ultimate payoff at the end. The “meta” ending of The Office drew attention to why the show was so popular in the first place. In the final season, they played up the documentary aspect of the show. The valid question of, “why would anyone spend 10 years filming a paper company?” is met with the answer: the makers of the series ultimately “wanted to see how the people at the company would turn out.”
When the characters look back on the documentary made about their presumably uninteresting company, they become more aware of their growth as people. Just like actual fans of the show, the characters see their flaws and triumphs onscreen. Many lessons can be learned through this extremely meta approach to an ending, but what audiences were really being told was, “live your life as if you’re a character you’re yelling at on the TV.”
The Office allowed us to recognize the dull reality of our everyday lives. But it also taught us that without the "boring", there could never be the "exciting". There is joy and beauty in the ordinary because it is ultimately what makes the good times exist at all.
What do you think about the ending of The Office? Let us know down in the comments.