Remembering The Office — Best of Season 1
The American version of The Office was released on March 24th, 2005, and was a runaway hit. It continues to inspire meme culture and inside jokes to this day and is perhaps one of the most rewatched TV shows of the 21st century. This mini-series of blog posts is an attempt to provide a little glimpse of some of the best episodes of this groundbreaking sitcom.
Before we get into it, a quick backstory of how I went from an Office skeptic to a fan. It was the spring of 2018 and almost 3 years since I moved to the US for college. I still hadn’t watched the show despite several friends referencing it in social circles and media. I think there was something about it being so mainstream that put me off and I attempted to watch the pilot episode at a time when I was in a crime-thriller-drama (Breaking Bad) mood. But in the spring of 2018, Jenna Fischer, the actor who plays the role of Pam Beesly, was scheduled to speak at our university as part of a speaker event. I was off-campus completing a semester-long internship at the time but was inspired by the hype and decided to give the show one final try. I’m glad that happened because, since my first full run of the show in 2018, I’ve rewatched it two more times and am currently on an unsolicited third run.
Pam & Jim | Office buddies or more?
The chemistry between Pam & Jim is evident from the very first episode of the office but this is the first time that the stakes are upped since the harmless flirting between them begins to blossom into a stronger romance as Jim actively seeks to woo Pam in front of her fiancé. The basketball game is an excellent episode in the first season because it manages to amply portray Pam & Jim’s budding romance even though the premise of this goofy episode is centered on Michael’s hilarious ego and juvenile pursuit to show up to the warehouse crew as the hippest guy who can play ball in the Office. I also think this is the first time that Jim shows clear signs of emotion (either discomfort or sadness) at the sight of Pam embracing her fiancé and his earnest attempts at impressing her are evidence of why he is such a big crowd-pleaser throughout the show. This episode also provides Pam with her first conflict as she is given the opportunity to indirectly pick sides but does neither as she sticks with Roy (her fiance) but also inconspicuously flirts with Jim.
Michael & Dwight | Assistant Regional Manager or Assistant to the Regional Manager!?
The cringe humor provided by Michael’s character is established right from the first episode of the Office but the show doesn’t necessarily lock in Dwight’s character in Season 1. And I’m glad they didn’t because Dwight’s funniest moments come later in the show and his character arc is the most rewarding and satisfying. Of the various experiments with Dwight’s character in the condensed first season — the nerd that gets bullied by Jim; the weirdo that doesn’t get along with anyone in the Office; the oddball creep that isn’t self-aware and thinks he has a shot with the “hot girl” in the season finale — I think the sycophantic yes-man who consistently wants to shine and be recognized by Michael is my favorite. While the “Basketball” episode isn’t the first time he tries to be included in Michael’s “inner circle”, it does establish this sort of boss-employee relationship that is expanded and explored in various comedic skits later in the show.
Darryl, Kevin, Stanley, Phyllis…Development of fringe characters!
The Office is one of those rare sitcoms that contains a big group of supporting characters and does (for the most part) justice to each of their comedic arcs and personalities. I can’t think of many other successful 2000s sitcoms (Friends, The Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, etc.) that worked so well with so many supporting characters. I think this approach worked well for the Office in part because each supporting character that was developed by the showrunners gained their own little cult following and represented a varied niche sense of humor. The brilliant writing and development of these fringe characters have definitely contributed to the reruns and the sustainability of the show in today’s “meme culture” trends on social media. The “Basketball” episode plays a key role in season 1 as it begins fleshing out some of these fringe characters and teases the audience of their potential comedic appeal in later seasons. Darryl, Kevin, Stanley, and Phyllis are the ones I noticed outside of the core characters that receive more screen time and jokes.
Final thoughts —
Season 1 of the Office might seem like a slow start and a lot of character development for a sitcom. But the show definitely rewards its patient viewers with plenty of memorable moments and rewarding character arcs. Season 1 definitely plays out much better on a rerun but the “Basketball” episode remains a standout in this abridged season and perfectly balances cringe and slapstick humor with a tinge of sappy romance.
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