The Office, What Has Happened to You?
by Haylee Fisher (@haylee_fisher)
I’ve been thinking a lot about the crew at Dunder-Mifflin lately and about how sad I’ll be when the show ends, especially since there are only a handful of episodes left to air. But because of some crazy plotlines and personality changes in characters I used to love, it may not be as hard to say goodbye as I thought it would be.
The Office used to be one of my favorite shows. When I was poor in college without a DVR, I wouldn’t go out on Thursday nights so I could stay at home and watch it. A former boss of mine posted about her favorite episode on Twitter a few days ago and I realized I could quote it and quite a few other episodes as well. These were episodes in the early seasons, though. The show started to drag creatively soon before Steve Carell announced his departure. While the episodes leading up to his last were great, almost every episode post-leaving made me wish they would have Old Yeller-ed the show when he left. And that was two seasons ago!
I was hoping the show would pick back up again in this season, especially because it’s the last and I would think they would want to go out with a bang. They wanted people to talk about the show again, but instead of falling back in love with it, people are doing just the opposite.
A big sign for me as to when I should stop watching a show is when I miss a few episodes and realize I don’t care to catch up. Honestly, that happened a few times for me last season, but since I’m recapping it this season, it’s not the case anymore. But they are making it awfully hard for me to say nice things about them! On February 14, after the hour-long episode aired and Andy had settled in after his return, quite a few people I follow on Twitter posted about how mean-spirited the episode was. I started a conversation with one friend in particular who also recaps shows and he mentioned how he struggles to write honestly when shows go bad because we want to love the shows we watch. It was like a lightbulb went off in my head! It wasn’t writer’s block I was experiencing, it was fear of being overly critical of a show I’ve loved for so long.
But I shouldn’t have to be critical. What happened to the glory days of the show, when Michael grilled his foot, or Jim and Pam kissed for the first time, or Dwight and Angela had their bizarre hook-up contract, or when Jim and Pam got married? Yes, I realize I just brought up Jim and Pam twice, but what I’ve always loved about The Office is that they really are the heart of the show. However, this season has me genuinely worried about their future. Jim has turned into a douchebag because of his new job in Philadelphia and Pam has been semi-flirting with the documentary crew’s boom mic operator. I have confidence the writers will give them a happy ending, because I’ve had to put my faith in them before, but because of the extreme personality shifts in these, my favorite characters, I wonder how much pain we, and they, will have to endure before we get there.
And what about Oscar having an affair with Angela’s husband? Granted, they’ve never gotten along, but ruining Angela’s life is not something I could have seen Oscar capable of doing in the early seasons, even if Angela has always been a little on the mean side.
Speaking of on the mean side, what happened to Andy? He’s downright nasty. I was looking forward to getting him back after he was away on his boat for so long, but I say send him back if this is how he’s going to act. Spiteful and revengeful is not a good look on you, Andy.
I was watching old episodes on TBS recently, and there used to be a time when I genuinely loved these characters. In the Halloween episode where Jim finally puts on the Popeye costume Pam wanted him to wear opposite her Olive Oyl, I melted. When Andy is in on the prank of seeing how long it would take Stanley to notice nothing was as it should be, I laughed. These small moments are what make the show worth watching to me. These are things I hope the writers go back and watch before the series ends, just so they could see why we fell in love with the show in the first place and why it became a pop culture phenomenon.
We love these characters and want to see them succeed. We want to be sad when the show is over for good because we will miss seeing them on our TVs every week. A change needs to happen for The Office to become must see TV again, before it’s too late. Otherwise, I’ll just continue procrastinating watching it and end up watching the series finale a month after it airs. I sincerely hope that doesn’t happen, but a character personality adjustment and plotline overhaul needs to happen quick so I can go back to enjoying a show I once loved.