TV

It’s Not Too Late To Watch The American Version Of ‘The Office’

There's nine seasons of heartwarming goodness to catch up on.

The Office

Sure, The Office stopped making episodes five years ago, but it’s still an incredibly influential and funny show. And we’re here to tell you it’s really worth checking out.

One of the worst feelings in the entire world is missing out on the zeitgeist. Nobody likes being that poor lonely fool who missed out on a popular show, who forever misses the reference, who is stuck at the end of the dinner table pretending to laugh along with the Simpsons gag with that one weirdo whose mum never let them watch TV.

A good legacy show has ripples beyond its time on air, and continues to generate discussion, controversy, and cultural references. If nothing else, they’ll help you to understand that gif you see everywhere.

So, let’s get stuck into why it’s not too late to watch the American version of The Office.

The Americans, Baby

The Office started out as an incredibly popular UK show with noted shitbag Ricky Gervais in its starring role.

The series was defined by both a kind of stereotypical British depression and the depths of cringe comedy. Gervais and his workers were sad and awkward and you felt pity for them and their awful lives.

So, naturally the US decided to try its own version.

The US version of The Office premiered in 2005, rebooted by veteran TV writer Greg Daniels. The first season was not received well, which may have been a mixture of being inevitably compared to its UK progenitor and trying too hard to pay homage to it. The result is an uneasy blend of cringe comedy and shock humour, that is frankly quite dated. The second episode of the first season, ‘Diversity Day’, in which the office undergoes racial sensitivity training is almost skin-crawlingly difficult to watch.

The characters are also less fleshed out in the first couple of seasons. Steve Carell’s egotistical dumb-dumb manager Michael Scott, failing to showcase his heart of gold that redeems him later on, while the office in general fails to find the fun and silliness that provides the silver lining to their dull existence.

But, as the videos say, it gets better.

Six Days Since Our Last Nonsense

Once The Office hits its stride, it’s easy to see why the show is still so wildly popular.

There’s nine entire seasons of hilarity to enjoy, with characters that only become more nuanced and fleshed out, which is always surprising for a comedy show. Usually they just become hyperbolised parodies of themselves, but with the debatable exception of Dwight, this doesn’t actually happen here.

It’s worth focusing on the characters, because despite some real verbal wit and some madcap physical comedy, the joke is defined by big stupid personalities rattling around a tiny office. Basically every character is a comedy goldmine, and it’s endlessly enjoyable to watch them clash, fall in love or just… tolerate each other. It’s a show that really impresses on you the virtue of tolerating people.

It’s a silly show, but you genuinely love every single person — even dickheads like Michael Scott. It’s pretty amazing that they manage to make you feel that way, because they’re not necessarily good or interesting people. The show has a big heart.

Best Moments

The Office is chock-full of iconic, absurd moments. They can be anything from a single scene — Kevin’s cursed attempt to cook chilli, to a cold-open, to an episode, to an entire arc.

A great example of an iconic episode would be season five’s ‘Stress Relief’, in which Dwight springs a fire drill on the office, causing panic. The opening to that episode is some of the funniest physical humour in the series.

Another widely lauded episode is ‘The Dinner Party’ which is hilarious in an entirely different way to ‘Stress Relief’. The premise is basically just the most awkward dinner party you can imagine, and the painful comedy whistles in through the beautifully crafted silences. It’s some of the funniest TV out there.

The Office is also known for its long running gags, such as the extended prank war between Dwight and Jim, which is often elaborate in its execution, petty in its delivery and always just really silly. It’s kinda indicative of the tone of the show — pulling elaborate fun out of the mundane and pedestrian.

You also can’t talk about The Office without touching on its big love story, Pam and Jim. No spoilers, but they are in love and it’s unbearably, tooth-achingly sweet.

That Is Actually What She Said

There’s actually a very good chance that you’ve absorbed all sorts of references from The Office — but most enduring are its quotes and callback lines.

Probably the most famous is the immortal line “that’s what she said”, which is a Michael Scott staple throughout the seasons. He didn’t invent it, but he popularised it to the point of over saturation.

Likewise, they basically did that with parkour, setting off a trend of yelling “parkour” whenever you jump on or off something, no matter how large or small.

There’s a bunch of other enduring quotes from the show that you can argue have entered the popular lexicon:

“Number one, how dare you?”, “Did I stutter?”, “It’s Britney, bitch” and “Dwight, you ignorant slut” to name a few.

Where To Start

So, you’ve decided to watch The Office, but you’re time poor — here’s what to do:

  • Skip season one
  • Start on episode four of season 2 ‘The Fire’. There’s really nothing to set up from the previous episodes that you can’t learn through context clues, and the episode is the first time that all the beautiful ingredients of the show come together and properly work.
  • Nine seasons is daunting, but you could pretty safely end on the seventh season, which is when Steve Carell departs the show. While the show never stops being enjoyable, it ceases to work at quite the same level, and doesn’t have as many must-watch moments. Also, a lot of the relationships between the characters become dulled into an unnatural affection, such as with Dwight and Jim.
  • If you do watch past season seven, you will be rewarded with some brilliant characters like James Spader’s Robert California and Catherine Tate’s Nellie Bertram. You’ll probably want to keep watching.
  • Even if you do decide to finish at the seventh, make sure you watch the final ever episode of the show, which delves far too deep into sentimentality, but is still great, cathartic television.

Where You Can Watch It

Seasons 1-9 of The Office are currently on Stan Australia.

Patrick Lenton is an author and staff writer at Junkee. He tweets @patricklenton.