The Office: Cocktails
Is this hyperbole? Well, probably; this is the internet. If you don't use nine hundred exclamation marks, you don't get heard. But as I watch The Office every week, I find myself responding to it much differently than I have any other show that I've ever watched. It's not necessarily the greatest show in history (that's The Simpsons), it's just the differentest show in history (and yes, grammar nazis, I know that's not a word).
Hear me out on this...
Has there ever been a moment in a popular sitcom as disturbing as Roy destroying the mirror? It was completely real and completely scary. Of course, it was softened a bit when Roy's brother joined in over his frustration regarding the jet skis, but they held it just long enough that you got a sick, uncomfortable feeling for Pam (and not in the usual, good sick, uncomfortable way you usually feel while watching The Office).
Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. I'm sure that some of you might be opposed to having such a striking moment in what should be a 30 minutes of ha-ha sitcom, but I think, more and more, this is what I tune in for when I watch The Office.
This is a funny show (I'm all alone in a Holiday Inn in Elizabethtown, PA and I'm still laughing out loud. Seriously, it's a problem), but the elements of drama and the over-arching storyline is what makes us care more about the characters. I loved Norm from Cheers, but I never rooted for him the way I do for Pam and Jim and Michael and Jan and even Dwight.
Here's an example: during the first two acts when Karen was claiming every guy at the party as a former lover, I went from laughing to being uncomfortable. As someone who married out of his league to a girl whose former boyfriends all have abs and expense accounts, I was particularly empathetic to Jim's situation. The look on his face when Karen was picking lint off the lapel of yet another former boyfriend was, at the same time, laugh-out-loud funny and heartbreaking.
But did anyone else breathe a sigh of relief when she let on that it was a joke? I mean, this isn't even the girl that we're supposed to want Jim to be with and we're still happy when she remains the person we thought she was!
Soap Opera was all over tonight's show. Jan and Michael having a coming out party was a built in disaster (predictably uncomfortable and funny -- Michael choking on his drink and bringing sun-baked potato salad were my stand-outs), but I couldn't help but be happy that Jan didn't go through with the break-up. It was nice to see some actual affection for Michael seep into their conversation. Dwight rising out of the backseat was hilarious and touching. "Guys, don't break-up..."
Even Toby trying to win Pam a prize and having Pam completely misread what he was trying to do worked because of the serialized nature of the show. Compare him to Gunther from Friends whose crush on Rachel was the stuff of silly sitcomery (a word I just coined; feel free to use it with your friends!) We still laugh at Toby, but we feel for him, too.
I guess what I'm saying is that all this emoting has made The Office more than a sitcom for me. I'm not even sure what to call it. It's not a dramedy (because it's only a half-hour long and not self-consciously quirky), and it's more than a sitcom. Any ideas? Or am I completely stupid in saying that it deserves its own category?
- Dwight. Okay, his being on the roof was a little much, but everything else was pitch perfect. "Crisis averted."
- Kevin's response to whether he's set a date. ("It's complicated!")
- "It's a whole new Pammy. Don't call me Pammy."
- As mentioned, Jim's face when he thought Karen was the office slut.
Wow was Jan hot tonight or what? Just... wow. This show might be packed with the most "Non-Hollywood" hot girls in the history of network television (Angela, Pam, Jan, Kelly).
What I didn't like:
The opening. I realize it's a throwaway piece, but can we please have a moratorium on botched magic tricks in sitcoms? I mean, it's 2007. How many permutations of the lost key can we see? I think this particular well ran dry in 1966.
(And I'm serious with that question up there... has there ever been a moment on a popular sitcom more disturbing than Roy destroying the mirror? Search your minds and see if you can come up with one!)