The Problem with The Office

I haven’t kept up with the latest (and apparently final) season of The Office, but having watched 8 seasons (and the UK version) in a row, it struck me how what I was consuming changed with time, and how I enjoyed it less.

No, this isn’t about the departure of Michael Scott (whom I wanted to kill after his millionth predictable blunder and sentimental recovery), or the “dark” eighth season. This is about The Office as a satire turning into The Office as a soap opera.

Originally, The Office was a plausible exaggeration that you could relate to – Toby was the boring HR guy who had to tell Michael off for being an idiot, Ryan was the MBA-holding newbie to whom Michael felt inferior. Over time The Office morphed into a show full of nutty characters whom you needed to know to understand what’s going on: Toby became a depressive loser, and Ryan a sociopathic philanderer. The zany cartoon characters were funny, but no longer people whom you could be working with.

And that’s the problem: it’s just another comedy fueled by crazy people, rather than satire based on the absurdities of the modern workplace.

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