Pssst, want to check out The Office in our new look?
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I was always one to think I'd had enough of The Office after watching the British version, so how do 9 seasons of the American iteration stack up? Well, there were times in the past few weeks chugging it that I wondered if I could make it through. My problem? Michael Scott. It's like that gave him the character traits that made Ricky Gervais' David Brent a compelling loser, but also made him extra stupid and childish - a far more obvious caricature - and while his more human moments were highlights, I was often frustrated by the repeated motif of his narcissistic tantrums. Similarly, I couldn't never figure out why they spent so much time on the dispicable Ryan. I was much more interested in "the little people" of the office, who seemed less extreme in comparison (or at least more fun to discover), though of course, who can't feel sympathy for the excruciating Jim and Pam relationship - it's just that you kind of know where it's going, albeit at a snail's pace. Frustrations aside, the show did manage to make me laugh and cry, and whether one likes it or not, it was a game changer for American sitcoms. Not only did it launch a number of careers, but its documentary style was used in new projects that became big hits themselves. I was shocked last year when my early-20s boarder walked into the living room and asked why Battlestar Galactica was shot like a sitcom, so... I'd wondered why Parks & Recs and Brooklyn 99 did actually acknowledge a documentary crew, but I see it now. The Office did, and actually used it as part of the narrative in a big way during its last season. They didn't want to repeat that. I do like those last couple seasons despite the character turnover (hey, no Michael Scott, so it becomes much more of an ensemble piece), and that last one in large part BECAUSE it pays off the documentary. You spend these many episodes investing in a cast of characters, the last few are going to hit hard. Shows are sometimes unmade by their finales, but The Office really hit it out of the park, a real symphony of grace notes.
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