Tag Archives: The Office

Culture War Correspondence: Sitcom Absurdity

GORDON: We have been graced, dearly beloved, by a topic recommendation from our ever-faithful reader Ben, who asked that we “address the absurd and current culture’s take on reality.”

To which I say, “pink octopus comb.”

And apparently, that’s a real thing, and not just some facetious absurd phrase I made up…

EVAN: To be a tad more specific, the way our culture presents that reality via television, which is something that I very definitely have opinions about. I have opinions about television, everyone.

GORDON: He really does. You should ask him about them. Continue reading

Evan and Gordon Talk: Sitcoms

GORDON: Ladies and Gentlemen! It’s the Evan and Gordon Show!

<Theme Music>

Starring:

Evan as Evan!

Michael Fassbender as Gordon Brown!

The closest this man will ever resemble me was when he lost 30 lbs to play a prisoner who died on hunger strike….

And guest starring . . .

Gordon’s inflated ego!

ego
EVAN:
 This is why I don’t like it when you do intros. Continue reading

TV Characters We Hate To Love To Hate, Or Something

Having just finished an episode of The Big Bang Theory is as good a time as any to write this post, which elaborates on an article I found on Macleans.ca titled “How obnoxious is too obnoxious for a TV character?” In it TV writer Jaime Weinman primarily writes about TBBT and its most popular character, Sheldon Cooper.

Weinman points out that the 12th episode of this season, “The Egg Salad Equivalency,” was actually the highest rated in the show’s history, an astonishing fact when you realize that a large chunk of it features Sheldon being extremely [albeit unknowingly] sexist and racist. I’ve embedded the primary scene in question below:


It’s pretty awful, but the fact of the matter is that Sheldon Cooper is far from being the only popular sitcom character you would actually hate to be around in real life. Two years before TBBT even aired the US version of The Office was around, and the original British version came out four years before that. Michael Scott was a huge draw for people who tuned in weekly to see how a particular Scranton paper company was doing [as well as being solely responsible for repopularizing the phrase “that’s what she said”], but was also one of the most blindly insensitive people on the planet.

Very old television spoilers ahead.

Steve Carrell’s departure at the end of Season 7 meant that someone else had to be the new boss, and in spite of my suggesting that Matthew Perry would fit the bill that role was given to Ed Helms’ Andy Bernard. While his character managed to be a fairly likeable manager earlier on, the current [9th] season has had him transform into what is essentially a terrible human being.

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He’s this close to being a moustache-twirling symbol of outright villainy.

He leaves the office to sail a boat out to some island, comes back expecting everyone to have covered for his month-long absence, and then, upon having his girlfriend [understandably] break up with him for another coworker proceeds to make both their lives a living hell. Crazy-talented webcomic artist Anthony Clark tweeted it best when he said:

And speaking of Ed Helms, take as another example his companion in the Hangover films, Alan Garner. Essentially just Zack Galifianakis playing the role he always plays [see: Due DateDinner For Schmucks, etc.], he is, as we’ve been talking about, a person who is so obnoxious that you wonder how they continue to be alive; there are times when you want to reach through the screen and slap them in the face.

Most TV shows [that’s the end of the movie portion of this post for now] have them, too. Adventure Time has the Ice King, Community has Pierce Hawthorne,  Modern Family has Manny Delgado [which you might debate, but I stand by this], and 30 Rock had the one-two punch of Tracy Jordan and Jenna Mulroney. Not only are the prevalent in television, but they also manage to become a huge draw for viewers.

Weinman ends his article by stating that “the show knows Sheldon is a jerk, but it doesn’t seem to know just how big a jerk he is.” I think it’s a fair assessment to say that all of the shows I’ve mentioned are aware that they’ve added obnoxious jerks to their casts, but the exact purpose for this is lost on someone who only had four hours of sleep last night. Sure, they can act as semi-antagonistic friends for our hero, usually the straight man, but eventually as the audience we’re forced to ask ourselves how people can bear having them around.

You could even justify it as being some sort of catharsis, rooted in schadenfreude, for whenever these character get their comeuppance, but it never happens. Sheldon will continue to be unaware of how his actions affect others, Pierce will continue to be extremely racist but get away with it due to his age, and we will continue watching them, amused, annoyed, or somewhere in between.

This is how The Office Ends: Not with a Bang, but with a Spinoff

It being a Thursday morning and all, I felt it an appropriate time to wax poetic on the fall [and fall] of NBC’s The Office. It doesn’t take a die-hard fan to realize that the show was on shaky ground once Michael Scott moved to Colorado, and like a newborn giraffe it had to struggle to get to its feet. Unlike a newborn giraffe, however, it was not ready to start running within the first few hours.

The first nail in the coffin came in the form of talks about a Dwight Schrute spinoff in which Rainn Wilson’s character would headline a show set on his bed and breakfast/beet farm. Apparently executive producer Paul Lieberstein and Wilson have been “joking for years” about this concept, and they’ve finally decided to do something with it.

The second sign that the show is on its way out is actress Mindy Kaling [who plays Kelly Kapoor] and her move to Fox to star on her own show. The program would feature Kaling as a “Bridget Jones-type OB/GYN doctor balancing her personal and professional life,” which sounds like yet another title to add to the list of shows revolving around a single woman and her zany existence [See: New Girl, Whitney]. So we have that to look forward to too, I guess.

Reasons we know the show’s coming to a close aside, I suppose the question to ask is why the show fell. It can’t simply be because of Steve Carell leaving, because the writers have demonstrated time and time again that they have a solid cast, with over a dozen well-rounded [funny] familiar characters. What they haven’t always demonstrated is the ability to use them.

Andy Bernard as boss is a great choice, but his having to compete for the spotlight with Robert California is uncomfortable at the best of times. Pam has been gone on maternity leave for weeks now and has a brunette replacement whose name doesn’t come to mind because she has no personality. Angela is still married to the supposedly gay senator, and no one really cares. I could go on, but I think you get my point: the show has stagnated.

While there have been good episodes this season, they’ve been few and far between. My only hope is that this season doesn’t become remembered as the new Scrubs: Interns, the ninth season of an excellent show reviled by both fans and people of good taste alike. “Goodbye, Michael” was a fantastic episode that ended well, and actually the fourth to last of this past season. If things end up the way they have been I’m going to have to consider it start considering it the last of the series.

The Office and Why It Could Use a F◦R◦I◦E◦N◦D

First thing’s first, Michael Scott left the office. Sorry, did I say Michael Scott? I meant Steve Carrell. And no, I don’t mean to imply that he won’t have a very successful film career due to him only being seen as the boss of a paper company.Clearly he’s proven he can play many different characters.

The point is, he’s not returning. In the near future. I don’t doubt that he’ll be popping up for a special episode eventually. The point and important news that everyone probablyalready knows is this: there will be no replacement boss.

To be a little more specific, there will be no character that acts as a replacement for Michael Scott. James Spader, who will be acting as the new CEO of Dunder Mifflin, is quoted as saying, “The show is very balanced right now and they want to utilize the ensemble cast.”

Which is honestly not something I have a problem with. It’s just that, having been a big fan of The Office and knowing that Carrell was leaving, I’ve always envisioned a particular person stepping behind that desk in the Scranton Dunder Mifflin branch. I’ll give you a hint, it’s none of the people they hinted in the last episode of last season.3

The person is Matthew Perry. AKA, Chandler from Friends. My argument is this:

Where Carrell played a boss who was extremely competent yet whollyinappropriate, Perry could portray a neurotic bundle of nerves. It’s the character he played on Friends, and one who also makes appearances in 17 Again,as well as the short-lived Mr. Sunshine.5

He would be uptight and constantly nervous and always freaking out, and because of this I think it would be an opportunity for the other characters in the office to affect their boss more than the other way around. Where Michael Scott influenced everyone he interacted with, this would be a character that would grow and change because of the people he worked with.

After that I suppose he’d have to go, since a show can’t continue with everything being right in the world; a principal character being calm and at peace with himself is awkward at best.

Either way,  I’m just thinking out loud. I’m very excited to see how the show will continue without Carrell, and I can only hope that the network or whoever is correct in thinking the current cast will be able to hold their own. I guess in one week we’ll know.

1. See Mark Hamill’s film career post-Star Wars.

2. I honestly don’t know how much people keep up on stuff like this. I really don’t know.

3. Though I loved Jim Carrey’s character. As well as Ray Romano’s. I was not especially endeared to the rest of them.

4. Personally, I thought Zac Efron played a great old Matthew Perry trapped inside the body of a young Zac Efron.

5. Not that I’ve seen it. I’m just disappointed it was cancelled after one season.