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December 19, 2014

The Office: Cocktails

by Jay Black, posted Feb 22nd 2007 9:59PM
I know it sucks, but I'd love to work there...(S03E18) I've decided that The Office isn't a sitcom. It's something more than a sitcom. I'm not sure what. I might be crazy (in fact, the gnome that lives in my belly thinks I should be seeing a therapist), but I think The Office is creating a new genre right before our eyes.

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?

Best moments:

- 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.

Obligatory creepiness:

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!)

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MAK

Great episode ... I'd be really grateful if someone could explain the game the gang was playing with the hands and a quarter in the bar ? (sorry, been out of the bar scene for awhile).

March 01 2007 at 3:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Big D

From 2004:::

08.30.04
Jessie's Song
by Steve Carey
This is easily THE single best episode of Saved by the Bell, and quite probably one of the most enthralling half-hours of sitcomery ever put to video tape.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
another mention :::

Hope & Faith Summary:
Daytime drama star and talk show host Kelly Ripa invaded the realm of ABC sitcomery in the weekly Hope Faith. Something of a female Odd Couple, the series starred Ripa as Faith
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

From 2002 :::

"I could reet murder a joke, pet"
Andrew Billen
Published 13 May 2002

"...There's too much crude sitcomery - Barry snorting his wife's herbal laxative and predicting that he'll have a runny nose for days, for example...."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

and on and on and on . . .
quit already

February 24 2007 at 12:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mel

A Google search on sitcomery shows that the NY Times and plenty of blogs have already used it.

Unlucky.

February 24 2007 at 5:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Justin

An out-of-left-field prediction:

Roy will try to attach Jim but Dwight will come to his aid (he is, after all, Jim's subordinate and his suck-up-i-ness outweighs his residual anger to Jim for all the pranks). That altercation will be too much for Karen to handle and she'll leave Jim, setting him up to go back with Pam.

That probably won't happen. Maybe Roy will just be off the show now.

Also, at least they finally alluded to the fact that Andy was in anger management. (At the party, Karen says she's the only one left because everyone else was either fired or quit, oh, and one's in anger management.)

Great episode! As a lover of fine Scotch, Michael choking on the sip he took was the most painful thing I've seen. "Can I have some ice, maybe some Splenda?" I love it.

Oh, also:

"How many square feet?"
"Dwight, that's not an appropriate question to ask. How much did this house cost?"

February 23 2007 at 6:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
scott

"'If you're not watching "Extras", catch up- you're missing out!'

Couldn't disagree more. For me, Ricky Gervais simply isn't funny."

couldn't disagree more myself... extras is one of the funniest shows on tv! and for the most part, ricky is the straight guy here against merchant and maggie, who are f*cking brilliant.
is he having a laugh??

and i loved jan's "that's what she said..."
hilarious!

February 23 2007 at 5:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bgdc

"If you're not watching "Extras", catch up- you're missing out!"

Couldn't disagree more. For me, Ricky Gervais simply isn't funny. I've watched 5 or 6 episodes of Extras and I wonder when they'll say or do something I'm not expecting. Never happens. Very obvious stuff.

February 23 2007 at 4:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Wendy Mac

As far as uncomfortable moments go, how about "Extras"? Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant really push it to the limits in this show. Andy and his best friend Maggie and Andy's agent all manage to get themselves into some of the most uncomfortable moments I've ever seen.

If you're not watching "Extras", catch up- you're missing out!

February 23 2007 at 2:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jose

"Let's start with the bannisters."

February 23 2007 at 2:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
RBear

Jay, good article.

The Office has hooked me in too this season. I disagree with wanting Karen to lie about those men, I wanted it to be true. It would make it easier for my conscience as I am rooting for Pam and Jim. Also, I think Roy's brother was throwing stuff to commiserate - weird, but touching I suppose.

Keep up the good work!

February 23 2007 at 1:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
vallidsoner

"That's what she said."

February 23 2007 at 1:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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