The American version of The Office has been a long time staple of my (limited) television watching regiment. The show had provided many hilarious and memorable moments over the years and is probably one of my all-time favourite series (which really is not hard as I like few shows but that is a topic for another time.) You may have noticed I used “had”, as in past-tense. This latest season of The Office has not at all been funny or at all enjoyable. And this down-slide has had nothing to do with Steve Carell leaving the show, in fact the season previous to this one (which did not have Carell) was one of the best in recent memory and was almost a refreshing change of pace. The problem with the show is I would no longer classify the program as a comedy; it is now a soap opera. As poorly written and planned out as any of the soap operas that were the only thing on TV when you were a kid home from school. The whole tone of this season has been drastically different, instead of jokes and light hearted touching moments we have come to expect we have been forced to endure over dramatic and painful episodes and situations. Even Jim’s classic (and usually down right hilarious) practical jokes on Dwight have become depressing. If the writers of The Office are trying to talk about the frailty of human relationships they have picked the wrong place to do it. I watch The Office to enjoy myself, not practice my gag reflexes.
Let’s talk about just one thing that’s wrong with this season, Andy and Erin’s relationship. If you are at all worried about spoilers skip this paragraph, but I would not be worried if I was you – you are not missing out. The complete change of Andy and Erin’s relationship has been nothing short of a travesty. First Andy was this character who was cheated on and abused by another character who then was able to get the wonderful new girl (Erin) who was perfect for him. Then sadly he lost her, but through an eventual grand romantic gesture he was able to get her back. Everyone is happy… Not so fast, in this current season Andy has all of a sudden went from being willing to lose his job for Erin to not at all caring about and leaving her behind as he sails away. And back home, feeling abandoned Erin starts having feelings for one of the new characters for this season. This brings up issues of is what Erin doing wrong? Is she cheating on Andy emotionally? If she is does it matter since Andy all of a sudden does not at all care about her anyways? See what I mean? Soap opera bull. This is The Office, we have been routing for Andy to get Erin for seasons. We want, no need, the happy ending. Yes it could still happen, but the latest episode “Customer Loyalty”, has cast that into serious doubt.
There is nothing worse than when the ending of a long running series completely ruins the series for you. After many years (ten in the case of The Office) you are emotionally attached to the show and to the characters and the creators of the show have a duty to make the fans of the show happy. Without fans there would be no show, the sole purpose of the show is to bring in viewers and to make them happy. And as much as it stinks, I think the conclusion of The Office is going to leave fans unhappy and unsatisfied. I have long thought a long running TV series, especially a sitcom, needs to have a conclusion that works. The safest bet (and my favourite method) is the leave-things-exactly-the-way-they-were method, classic Canadian sitcom Corner Gas did this ending absolutely beautifully (if you need a reminder watch it here, but start from the beginning if you haven’t seen the show before). However, I do not see that happening with The Office (in fact it seems obvious based on episodes so far), instead we will be force-fed a brutal depressing explosion of the show we once loved. And as much as I hate it I will still watch it, and then wish I never did.