Oh, where to begin this post. I don’t know if I want to do a traditional review of The Office series finale or just give a retrospective of my own (or a “Robtrospective”) of the show that has been defining American television for the past nine years. I’ll go with the Robtrospective.
To be honest, I didn’t start watching The Office from its pilot back in 2005. The first episode I saw was season three’s “Branch Closing,” and I kind of stumbled on it by accidently. Back in the day, our family only had one computer, but we each had our own user account that we could log into. However, iTunes used to operate on a computer-wide scale rather than restricting to each individual user’s account. That being said, my older brother’s iTunes would sometimes accidently start syncing when I would plug in my now-vintage iPod Video. One time, the computer recognized my iPod and began syncing The Office season 3. Being scared for my life, I quickly unplugged the device to avoid my brother’s wrath if I had so much as clicked on one of his iTunes playlists. However, I was too late. “Branch Closing” had been downloaded onto my iPod.
Now that it was downloaded, I figured I would see what the show was all about… and the rest is history.
I finally started to watch the show religiously in the show’s fifth season, having caught up through my brother’s iTunes account. I remember being intrigued by the show’s mokumentary style, reminding me of my favorite show at the time, Survivor. The short-and-sweet testimonials never ceased to elicit a chuckle and the real-time lens scopes truly captured the essence of everyday life.
The show embraced pregnant pauses in a way that no other show had done before. It’s greatest foil, yet partner-in-Thursday-night-crime, 30 Rock, literally used all of its 22-minutes to spit joke after joke, reference after reference. What killed Tina Fey’s show (and many others like Arrested Development) was that it was too fast and too smart for the average television viewer. In contrast, The Office’s greatest triumph was that it appealed to the masses and the distracted. Missing an episode of the work-place comedy would not set any viewers back in terms of understanding the characters or their interactions – which is why it, along with its contemporary How I Met Your Mother, have already been syndicated on countless cable channels.
In the end, what The Office is truly about is the people and their relationships. And while the veteran employees will forever bask in the show’s glory, two latecomers truly kept the show moving following Steve Carrell’s departure from Dunder-Mifflin.
Erin Hannon (Ellie Kemper) and Nellie Bertram (Catherine Tate) brought fresh new faces to The Office in seasons 5 and 8 respectively. Erin, the naïve receptionist, initiated many a love triangle around the office – most of the time not even realizing she was in the midst of them. Nellie, the pompous, British saleswoman, created much-needed tension in the show, as she vied for the position of Regional Branch Manager against Andy and Dwight.
Regardless of whether you liked it, didn’t like it, thought it should have ended with Michael Scott’s departure, The Office is, and always will be, one of the greatest feats of American television – even though its roots do trace back to England. From inappropriate “that’s what she said” jokes to “Bears, Beets, Battlestar Galactica,” the show has taken on a persona of its own and will be cherished by generations and generations to come.