The Comedic Legacy of The Office

By: Sarah Brill  |  November 26, 2020

By Sarah Brill, Science and Technology Editor 

One of the most cringy TV shows that captivated viewers worldwide was “The Office” (2005-2013). “The Office” takes a unique approach to comedy TV in many ways. One of those was by making the TV show as a “mockumentary”. A “mockumentary” is a type of television taking the approach of documentary TV with a comedic twist. “The Office” is set in a stereotypical office setting with your average employees. The boss for the majority of the seasons, Michael Scott, played by Steve Carell, is portrayed as the boss of Dunder-Mifflin Scranton, the main set of this mockumentary. Single-handedly, Michael Scott is both able to portray a great boss during the time being, but also shows a lack of consideration for other people or demonstrates an immature attitude which plays off as comedic gold. 

For example, in one episode, all of the characters, both office workers and warehouse workers, are in the warehouse. In this scene, the warehouse employee wishes to convey the importance of warehouse safety, emphasizing that the office worker should not be touching any of the devices. Michael Scott continually interrupts by saying that he can and will occasionally touch these deadly items against the strong assessment by the warehouse employee. This incredibly frustrating scene combines both cringe with comedy by showing the stupidity of Michael Scott and the irritation of the warehouse employees. 

Aside from Michael, all the other employees bounce off of each other in a way that turns this show into pure comedic gold. We have Jim Halpert, played by John Krasinski, and Pam Beesly, played by Jenna Fischer who compliment each other beautifully not only in their ever-evolving romantic relationship, but also in the way they play comedic pranks on their gullible co-worker Dwight Schrut, played by Rainn Wilson. In a secret relationship for many seasons, Dwight and Angela, played by Angela Kinsley, play off each other’s strict personalities to create and solve non-existent problems in the office. Both of these characters attempt to use logic to solve their problems and the office’s problems, but most of these attempts backfire. 

Located in the annex of the office space are co-workers Kelly, played by Mindy Kaling, and Ryan, played by B.J. Novak, who have a continuous on-again, off-again relationship, but what is the pinnacle of their dynamic is the over exaggeration of the female psyche portrayed by Kelly. She is the embodiment of the stereotypical “dumb blonde” with over-the-top reactions to everything Ryan does. Both of these sets of relationships play a crucial role in maintaining the comedic framework of this mockumentary. 

Side characters such as Stanley Hudson (Leslie David Baker), Kevin Malone (Brian Baumgartner), and Andy Bernard (Ed Helms) play characters that are the epitome of the bored workers, the stupid worker, and the annoying worker, respectivley. These are accurate depictions of some personalities that might be found in the typical cubicle workplace which makes the show both relatable and realistic. 

Both the cast, setting, and film style compliment each other in creating a TV show that is both a unique type of comedy, and one that would be a precursor for others to follow.