The original version of ‘The Office’ came from the BBC and was then adapted by NBC from 2005 to 2013, spanning nine seasons. Both versions show the story of a group of office workers led by a self-proclaimed ‘world’s best boss.’
The employees are working in a mediocre paper company, called Dundler Mifflin, in a small town. The show’s format is called a mockumentary, or a blend of mock and documentary. It is also called a docu-comedy, a type of show that depicts fictional events but is presented as a documentary.
The employees of Dundler Mifflin, under the leadership of their delusional, petty, and insensitive boss, Michael Scott, unravels scenes that would crack you up and make you roll on the floor laughing.
Many people enjoyed watching ‘The Office’ because they could relate to the scenarios presented in the series. The show managed to incorporate real-life situations and gave it a comedic take that, at the same time, tugs the heart.
With its nine-year run, ‘The Office’ definitely changed TV. Below are some aspects of the show that helped it make its mark in popular culture.
1. Employs Single Camera Setup
First used in 1910, the single-camera setup was the standard mode of filming for cinema. Unlike multiple cameras, a single-camera setup points at one scene and uses the same camera for other locations making it look as real as it gets. This is also why ‘The Office’ has a documentary vibe to it.
2. Absence of Background Laughter
Sitcoms typically use canned audience laughter to elicit a reaction from the crowd. ‘The Office’ doesn’t have a pre-programmed background to cue you that it’s time to laugh. You will laugh because it’s hilarious, like when Dwight set the office on fire to test if everyone is knowledgeable about emergency preparedness.
Another scene is when Michael required the team to undergo CPR training in the episode titled ‘Stress Relief.’ In the end, Michael doesn’t want to do it because the CPR doll doesn’t have arms and legs. Then he tells his people what kind of quality of life would anyone expect if they survived, but they don’t have arms and legs.
In other sitcoms, raucous laughter followed by thunderous claps would follow that scene., but not in ‘The Office.’ Many critics have stated that this made the sitcom highly intellectual because you’ll miss most of the jokes if you’re not witty enough. The show will not dictate your reaction.
3. Memorable Cold Opening Styles
A cold opening is a narrative technique in television that jumps directly into a story at the beginning of a show even before the opening title or credits are shown. The premiere of Season 6 entitled ‘Gossip,’ has the best cold opening of all time with Michael, Dwight, and Andy doing parkour.
Parkour is a military training turned into an internet meme where an individual needs to creatively move from point A to point B in the fastest and most efficient way amidst an obstacle course, all while shouting ‘parkour.’
The opening of the episode will show Michael stumbling clumsily into the office screaming parkour. The three of them were on top of office tables jumping around office mates and rolling on office chairs.
They eventually end up on top of a truck, with Andy devising a plan to jump on a refrigerator box, then make a 360 degree turn into the dumpster before ending on a pile of garbage. All of which turned haywire because Andy’s first jump landed on an empty box while Michael and Dwight meekly mouthed parkour. If you’re a fan of the show, many memorable quotes and meme-worthy anecdotes are printed on The Office t-shirts and available online.
4. Normalizes Cringe Comedy
Cringe comedy derives humor from social awkwardness. Frequently, lead actors overstep political correctness. Like when Michael proposed to Carol in front of the Diwali celebration of primarily Indian people, Carol was not ready.
Cringe comedy is also the type of comedy that makes you laugh at very embarrassing things. Like when Michael was given the honor for Scott’s Tots—children he promised to pay college tuition for, only to announce that he won’t be able to pay for their education. And all this after the kids did a well-prepared song and dance number to show their gratitude to him. The entire scenario would leave you cowering on your seat. Lastly, the episode that shows sensitivity training is one of the most cringe-worthy and funniest of all.
5. Ushered Hard Reality To Workplace Comedy
Like a reality TV show, ‘The Office’ featured a real-world white-collar anxiety storyline. The show tackled downsizing, layoffs, and buyouts that real people outside of the television screen experience all the time. The show manages to depict the situation that will tug at your heart with their relatable, realistic interactions.
6. An Endless Supply of Memorable Memes And Hilarious GIFs
Although memes are not that popular when the show started airing, many scenes and quotes were funny and memorable enough to still inspire a lot of memes today. ‘The Office’ scenes have been fitting for an endless supply of memes and GIFs.
Because the show is meme-worthy material, its popularity soared even long after it went off the air. The viral memes that fans made out of the show’s scenes made it possible for thousands of other people to be familiar with the show and even watch it on streaming sites.
One of the most popular memes of the show was from the scene of Jim’s birthday, wherein the office was decorated with a happy birthday sign with a period and not an exclamation point. Thousands of memes soon after came out of that episode and will forever be on the web for people to ridiculously laugh at.
‘The Office’ wasn’t met warmly initially, and it took some time before it acquired raving fans. But once it did, the climb was phenomenal. Intellectually written shows like ‘The Office’ can easily change the landscape of television and film, as it does not dumb down the audience. Currently, that’s what people want to look for when they turn on their TV sets.