Hey, The Office? Do you have a minute? I know you are really busy these days but we really need to chat. Some of us were talking, and we’re just wondering....what the hell are you doing?
A few weeks ago, after the famous Pam/Jim phone fight that came at the conclusion of episode 12 of this season (Customer Loyalty) the show made an interesting choice: Pam was all alone at her desk and upset after the argument, and the boom mic operator from the fictional documentary crew stepped in front of the camera and comforted her. I thought it was great. Something interesting happened on The Office! It had been so long! For a show that has increasingly seemed to be spinning its wheels and sliding slowly into cartoonishness, it was a nice human moment with the awesome bonus of hinting at a whole second story that has been going on for the entire run of the show.
Then, over the next few episodes they busily set about squandering all that good will.
This season they’ve been ramping up the tension in Jim and Pam’s marriage, with Jim working part time in Philidelphia on his sports marketing startup and hoping to move the family there eventually and Pam not sure she wants to leave her life in Scranton. It’s not my favorite thing the show has ever done (do we really need to mess with Jim and Pam more? Is a happy ending too much to ask?), but I appreciate how realistic it is. The conflict developed fairly organically and its hard to say that one or the other is right, like any real conflict in a relationship.
Then: Enter boom mic guy, stage left.
Remember that guy who stepped through the fourth wall earlier? The character the show chose to introduce in the most novel and interesting way possible, evocative of a possible completely new direction for the story to move in? Turns out he’s just Generic Love Triangle Guy #1. He flirts with Pam, he comforts her when she fights with Jim, he punches a warehouse guy that threatens her. Then he announces that he just broke up with his long standing girlfriend on Valentines day and makes puppy dog faces at Pam while wearing an asshole leather jacket. There are a few ways this thing can go, and all of them end in some kind of artificial rom-com foolishness. Yawn.
By the way, he’s crazy handsome. When he first showed up I thought he was played by the guy from Maroon 5. I’ve known many boom mic operators in my time. They’re nearly always great guys, but they are rarely what you would call “conventionally attractive”, and they certainly are never born homewreckers like this chucklefuck.
So seriously, The Office- what the hell are you thinking? You’ve got seven episodes to shape the hell up. Get your head in the game!