The instant gratification of rewatching (and re-rewatching) 'The Office'

NOSELL

NBC

 

Monday, November 20, 2017 - 4:09pm

The week before “High School Musical” aired on Disney Channel was probably one of the most exciting weeks of the summer before 7th grade. It’s all any one of my middle school friends could talk about. My sister and I camped out in front of our old-fashioned box TV for an hour before with snacks so we wouldn’t miss it. In fact, the idea of missing it was absolutely traumatic.

Now, for the most part, I don’t have to wait a week to watch one of my favorite programs. I can get it instantly by logging into one account, taking approximately 11 seconds. Netflix. Xfinity on Demand. Hulu. You name it. I want it, I have it. No wait, no hassle. And this ease has shaped the way consumers watch and enjoy TV.

“The Office” aired on NBC in 2004 and has now become one of the most watched programs on Netflix. I can watch it whenever I want. That mindless action of turning it on whenever I open my Netflix account is the reason I have seen every episode more than five times. While there are many great, new exciting tv shows out there to watch, none of them hold onto my heart quite like “The Office” does.

“The Office” follows the lives of ordinary office workers in Scranton, Pennsylvania. The manager of the office, Michael Scott (Steven Carell, “Last Flag Flying”), is the biggest dope you’ve ever met, saying and doing unimaginable things, yet making me laugh appropriately. Michael’s loyal yet conniving number two, Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson, “Thom Pain”), is a strange pariah with a bizarre lifestyle, like living as a beet farmer on the side. Additionally, the Jim Halpert (John Krasinski, “Detroit”) and Pam Beesley (Jenna Fischer, “The Guest Book”) evolution never fails to make me tear up. (Soft, I know).

Steve Carell can successfully record cringe worthy moments, like having to tell a bunch of high schoolers he can’t pay for their college when he promised to or when he gets up at Jim and Pam’s wedding to make a toast about consensual sex. These moments leave me with pain and second-hand embarrassment. I’m impressed Carell could get through half of those scenes. Michael’s character is also noticeably and undebatably pathetic. He has no family of his own, and his own mother shits on him. Yet, his love for his employees is heartwarming but also kind of sad and creepy.

The dynamic of Jim and Dwight’s friendship / rivalry constantly feeds the witty humor of the show. Jim playfully plays ingenious tricks on Dwight, like putting his stapler in jello or conditioning him to ask for a mint when he rings a bell. I’ve seen this scene in so many of my psychology classes, so hey, at least the show is educational, too. Sometimes his schemes are more elaborate. For example, he sends Dwight faxes from “Dwight’s future self” and Dwight believes it. Or one time he destroyed Dwight’s hotel room and pretended to be dead. Jim’s child like personality juxtaposed to Dwight’s seriousness makes the pair an irreplaceable duo.

The light, playful humor riddled in “The Office” makes it enjoyable for any audience, as long as you like to laugh. My sister and I have “The Office” marathons whenever I come home for breaks. It’s filled with awkward yet hilarious situations that have become the tail-end of jokes between my sister and myself. The show itself isn’t the reason why I’m so attached, but the sentimental value it has of reminding me of my sister amplifies my love for it.

Jim and Dwight’s frenemy relationship isn’t the only famous interaction in the show — Jim and Pam's relationship is also iconic. Pam is engaged to a monster of a boyfriend, yet has her best friend, so obviously in love with her, watching it all happen. Jim pines over Pam, giving her a sentimental teapot for Christmas, a scene so central to the show that I have seen people give it as a gift in real life out of mimicry. Jim finally tells Pam his feelings, but she rejects him which probably made not just me, but everyone else watching want to give her a roundhouse kick to the jaw. It was probably one of the most frustrating scenes in the show, but thankfully, it all worked out for the better.

Jim and Pam fall in love, get married and have two children, but it’s not completely smooth sailing. As the show gets into its later seasons, we see sacrifice on both ends of the relationship, rough patches and the hardships of marriage. Having real moments like this makes me appreciate the show even more. The writers don’t try to cover up reality, but they don’t make it overly dramatic either. The show has the perfect balance of humor, heart and truth.

The chemistry between the actors became strong enough that eventually half of the show became improv. Most of the funny scenes are completely born from the actors just goofing around. For example, Michael awkwardly kisses his gay employee, Oscar Martinez (Oscar Nuñez, “DriverX”). This wasn’t scripted at all, yet made it in and is a well known scene of the show.

Netflix lets me watch my favorite TV show anytime, anyplace. I see different, new and interesting shows that I could watch. But, I can’t help myself from always clicking on “The Office.” Maybe I should branch out, but it’s highly unlikely. My obsession is like an addiction, hindering me from discovering potentially great stuff. Although I love Netflix, the instant gratification has forever reshaped the way that myself and others watch TV. I believe it has made many people fixate on one or two specific TV shows, and I cannot tell if this is a good or bad thing.