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September 22, 2014

Nine reasons why Ryan is a villain (or, how not to be the office d-bag)

by Jay Black, posted Oct 9th 2007 11:04AM
Yes, this is the face of evil.In my review of The Office last week, I called Ryan one of the best villains on TV today. I thought it was obvious that the producers were taking Ryan in this direction and that my comment was a compliment to the fine acting and writing on the show. I was met with a bit of resistance, however. Some of our readers felt that Ryan's ideas made a lot of sense and that, if anything, Michael's overall incompetence is the real villain on the show.

I thought a post was in order to further explain why I thought Ryan was a villain. And what's the best way to explain a point? Well, considering the direction that the internet is moving, the answer is, of course, a numbered list! The nine reasons why Ryan is a villain after the jump.

Note, the following list will be presented as a list of "Don'ts". It's a lot more fun if you read this aloud to yourself mimicking a 1950's-type film-strip voice. This is not a good idea, by the way, if you're currently at work.

1. Don't use your BlackBerry while your coworkers are talking to you. Yes, we know you're more important than the rest of the world and that if you don't finish click-clacking out your short electronic directives the entire company might come crashing down around you, but please, if someone is taking the time to talk to you, the correct thing to do is to put the BlackBerry down, make eye contact with that person, and give them some kind of human-type greeting. Putting up a finger -- like Ryan did to Pam at the beginning of last week's episode -- does not make you seem mature or important or imposing, it makes you look like a world class D-Bag.

2. Don't use someone's work-related dreams to try and bed them. Listen, we'd all like to have sex with Pam Beesly; I don't blame you for trying. Ryan's approach, however, was despicable. Using his knowledge of Pam's art aspirations, he asked her to work on a new logo for Dunder-Mifflin Infinity. When she finished her designs, he asked her if she wanted to talk about them "over dinner," his motives as visible as Dabney Coleman's mustache in 9 to 5. This is how evil people try to get secretaries into bed. Good people do it by superciliously raising their eyebrows, having mussy hair, and playing a series of ridiculous pranks on their co-workers.

3. Don't spend more then $40 on a haircut. Unless you're a girl getting ready for the prom or a woman getting ready for her wedding, spending any more than $40 on a haircut is not only dumb, it's the reason why the rest of the world hates us. You would think that Ryan, a self-proclaimed wunderkind, would have heard of the law of diminishing returns. Seriously, if you want to send a message with your haircut, it'd be cheaper and more direct to simply have "D-Bag" shaved in the back of your head.

4. Don't use the word "young" as a synonym for "better". Ryan's plan for Dunder-Mifflin isn't a bad one -- he wants to get it a website to better serve its customers -- it's the implication of it that makes him so villainous. I'm 31, so my annoyance with his statement isn't personal (yet), I just feel that people are still valuable even over the age of 40. While I'm all for new ideas, being younger doesn't necessarily make you better. Hang out at your local mall on a Friday night the next time you want to get an idea of what the younger generation is up to.

5. Don't grow a beard to look older. There are only four acceptable purposes for growing a beard: 1) You have a weak chin and are trying to hide it. 2) You're a college professor. 3) You live in the 19th century. 4) You've just accidentally killed Santa Claus and are magically turning into the new Santa Claus. Ryan is growing one to look older (while, ironically, is trying to make the company "younger") and that makes him a D-Bag.

6. Don't dress all in black. Ryan's new promotion meant a new wardrobe. When he showed up at Dunder Mifflin, he was dressed all in black for no justifiable reason. There are only two jobs that require you to be dressed all in black: Supreme Court Justice and Sith Lord (here's an interesting bit of trivia: Antonin Scalia is the only person to have held both positions). People who dress all in black are trying to look cool and people who are trying to look cool are obviously D-bags.

7. Don't date someone at your office simply because you have nothing better to do. I think the Ryan-Kelly relationship is really the turning point for what the Ryan character eventually turned into. Early in the show's run he was simply a character type -- the temp who never seems to leave. His initial involvement with Kelly became a symbol of his own personal fear: being trapped at Dunder-Mifflin as a temp forever. Initially we sympathized with Ryan and disliked Kelly because, well, you know, Kelly is annoying as hell. As time went on, however, and we saw how Ryan treated her, our feelings changed. Kelly was annoying, yes, but she was devoted and loving. Ryan, on the other hand, was just killing time. When he got the call to corporate, he callously threw her aside with a "We're through." Funny, yes, but those are not the words of a likable character; they're the words of a villainous D-bag.

8. Don't brag about how easy it is to get sandwiches in New York City. If you work at a branch office and are promoted to a big city, when you go back to the branch office for the first time, just assume everyone knows that it's easier to get various exotic foodstuffs in the big city. Ryan bragged in the episode that he and his new D-bag friends went to get a sandwich "even though it was 2 AM, but you can do that in the city" as if Andy and Kevin had never heard of New York. The only reason to bring it up is because you want to make people whose only all-night food options are microwaved burritos at a gas-station convenience store feel bad about themselves. And if you do that you're a D-bag.

9. Don't think that a promotion in your job is a promotion in your character. Ryan always felt that he was better than the people he worked with and when he got promoted, he felt that his belief was justified. It's not, however; it never is. Your character is separate from your job title. It is this reason that while a lot of what Ryan says actually makes sense -- especially his comments about the time wasted at the branch office -- we look at him as the villain. The Office is like a family: it's painful to be in it, the other people annoy the hell out of you, most of your time is spent trying to get away from it, but also you hate anyone telling you what's wrong with yours. Anyone who does is a villain. A villainous D-bag!

As always, feel free to tell me what a villainous D-bag I am in the comments.

What do you think of the new Ryan?
He's a villain -- and a great one!620 (68.1%)
He's not a villain, he's simply the voice of reason.66 (7.2%)
I don't have an opinion, but I am impressed with the number of times "d-bag" shows up in this article.225 (24.7%)

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Alicia

TBS repeated an episode last night that reminded me of something:

Ryan? Not always a "dbag" (insert Ann Coulter link). Remember when he was a sweet(ish) kid just temping his way through business school? The people in the office made him a dbag (insert Isaiah Washington link). Without Michael's general behavior, the jokes about that time Ryan kind of started a fire in the break room with his cheese pita, Dwight's sales boot camp in the barn, Kelly's everything, etc., etc., Ryan might have been a lovely human being forever. Or at least not the dbag (insert Karl Rove link) he is now.

October 10 2007 at 5:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
chris

You forgot the most obvious one to round out your (otherwise excellent) Top 10: he got his MBA, and was hired more or less for having his MBA, independent of his work history.

In b-school, Douchbaggery 101 (fka Quality, fka , fka Scientific Management) is a required course. Ryan obviously got an 'A'.

I say that even though he's one of my favorite characters and writers on the show. Bravo.

October 09 2007 at 6:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
SpaceVenus

Ryan is a jerk, but at least he has a desire to accomplish something. And yes, he's really hot.

Also, a good salesperson doesn't mean a good executive, and vice versa. AS a matter of fact, they're probably mutually exclusive. I don't believe Jen had been in sales either.

October 09 2007 at 5:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
BartmanDK

He's a D-bag in my book, and like 21. said definitly not a voice of reason! And with the whole Kelly thing he should have just manned up and broke it off instead of stringing her along.. its not wonder she's so clingy and makes of that shes preggers

October 09 2007 at 5:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
MissChriss

TX2Step - I think that would be great! Of course, Micheal CAN'T be fired...what would The Office be without him. I see him being demoted, tho. >:-}

October 09 2007 at 4:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
MissChriss

You have to admit that Ryan is HOT with his facial hair and black clothes.
I like his ideas. And Micheal annoys the Poo out of me. GO RYAN!

October 09 2007 at 4:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
NearFar

Hhrmm... what id the ultimate cliffhanger at the end of this season that Ryan fires Michael Scott?!?!?!?!??!

oh man.... I have shivers just typing this.

October 09 2007 at 3:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jennifer

Great list - hilarious.. i loved the links to various d-bags. Nice touch.

October 09 2007 at 3:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Shawn

Ryan: little old man boy

October 09 2007 at 2:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joshua Stein

I'm going with D-bag, but not villain and certainly not a voice of reason. He didn't work to get where he is (he got a dimestore MBA) and never made one sale. He's young and cocky, so he thinks he has all the answers. He has a few good ideas (which are really "me-too" ideas stolen from big-box competitors), and if he wasn't into Kelly, he should have manned up and broken it off a while back, not while he was headed out the door. And who the hell asks out a co-worker via E-mail? While dating another co-worker?

No, B.J. Novak is playing one hell of a D-bag. No way he makes it to season 4 still in corporate. 10-1 he ends up a temp in Scranton again.

"Then he went back to what is now known as the former Yugoslavia." It's lines like that that tell you what damn fine writing they have on that show.

October 09 2007 at 2:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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