Aug 17 2011

#109 “Date Wolf”

From a Genevieve in Little Rock, Arkansas

“The Office.”

I have found that this television show is often a point of contention or a dividing factor between friends and associates. In my experience, it seems that most people either love it or hate it. Personally, I love it, and I will not shy away from this admission. I know that with this revelation I run the risk of isolating some members of my faithful WBS audience, but ladies and gentlemen, I cannot deny who I am or what I love.

What is it that draws me to this particular television series? To be honest, I’m not exactly sure. I don’t find the show’s premise to be necessarily believable. Nor do I find the characters to be completely based in reality; certainly the character of Dwight is unbelievable in his quirkiness, and Jim’s innocent Everyman identity is something rarely found in the real world.

So what is it? What has created this undying affinity for this 30 minute diversion from reality? I believe I have narrowed the reasons down to three:

1. “The Office” was one of the first American situational comedies to neglect the use of the laugh track. As a result, the audience is not insulted by producers who attempt to decide what is funny for the viewer. I like to decide what is funny for myself, thank you very much. I’m a pretty smart guy. I can make decisions about what is humorous and what is not on my own, and “The Office” allows me to do this.

2. Even though the personalities of the characters might be extreme and therefore unrealistic, the dynamics of the relationships between the characters is surprisingly believable which anchors the show in a comfortable area of limbo in terms of the necessary suspension of reality. Also, while many of the specific scenarios of the television show are quite outlandish at times, the show does create a balance of believability in terms of workplace realities that most people deal with on a daily basis, and many of the problems, tasks, and situations that are faced by the more secondary characters are very relatable and humorous in that relatability.

3. The show offers humor without a high risk of being offended and without pushing the envelope too far. This simply reflects good writing. While I understand the appeal of television shows that offer entertainment through shock value, I believe that it takes a higher level of intellect and more effort to create humor that is entertaining without insulting members of the viewing audience or taking crack shots at celebrities or institutions such as religion, etc. Simply put, the show doesn’t need to take cheap shots to be funny.

If you have read this entry up to this point and are totally confused as to why I have been talking about “The Office” this entire time, simply examine the picture above and then watch the clip below.