The Office: Truly an American Workplace

Oddly enough, when picking a “favorite” television show, I usually fall headfirst in love with dramas that are borderline sci-fi or fantasy. After all, last season, my love for Lost began. Years before that, it was X-Files. In its first two seasons, I was a huge Smallville fan.

So this year, I’ve found myself at an odd place. My favorite TV show this year doesn’t feature unseen island monsters or aliens that may or may not be alien-like in appearance. No. The strangest thing about this series is probably a character by the name of Dwight Schrute. And he may or may not be of this earth.

That’s right. My TV find for this year is the NBC series, The Office. A take on the BBC series of the same name, The Office follows the daily, ho-hum life of the employees of Dunder-Mifflin, a paper company in Scranton, Pennsylvania. What might be pure boredom for those confined to the crisp white walls and soft hum of computers is pure television gold for those of us spying on the inhabitants of Dunder-Mifflin through the watchful eye of the unseen and unspoken of character who documents the happenings around him or her.

Unfortunately, it seems that many reviews and debates on the series focus on how NBC’s take on The Office compares to Ricky Gervais’ original vision. However, I believe this series deserves to be enjoyed on its own merits as the cast and writers of this series are every bit as talented and original as those on the BBC series.

Michael Scott, played by the brilliant Steve Carell, is the office manager of the Scranton branch of Dunder-Mifflin. His employees range from the amazingly normal to “out there” Dwight Schrute. How each of these characters mix and match is what makes The Office a brilliant bit of television programming.

The heart of the show resides in two characters, Jim Halpert and Pam Beesly, a paper salesman and receptionist respectively. While Pam is engaged to her boyfriend of ten years, Roy (who conveniently also works in Dunder-Mifflin’s warehouse), Jim can’t seem to shake the feelings he harbors for Pam. It’s sexual tension and unrequited love at its best and viewers can’t help but find themselves clinging to the smallest tokens of affection between the two characters.

The Office does for comedy what other shows of the same vein, i.e. Scrubs, also does: it mixes comedy with brilliant characterization and emotion that make it an addictive find for any true television fan.

The Office airs on NBC on Thursdays at 9:30 p.m. Eastern.