Friday, April 17, 2009

The Office: The Dunder Mifflin Three Need to Go Back

I'm sure I'm not the only one who's upset about this division of labor going on in The Office. With Michael having quit (Pam deciding to go with him, and Ryan being pulled in a 'what-the-heck' move that's far less shocking than his hair) the rest of the office seems… civilized.

Charles has Jim doing 'rundowns' of clients, and Dwight wearing properly buttoned crisp white shirts. There's no shenanigans, not much interaction, and no fun. But I guess that's what happens when Michael's not around, and I say that as someone who lists Michael as one of my least favorite characters.

It's not that Michael is a bad character; it's that too much concentration on his character generally makes me squirm and while I understand that is the desired effect, I kind of prefer Office episodes where I'm left in tears LAUGHING, not drowning in embarrassment. Last night the biggest laugh I got was in the teaser, because I love Cheeto puffs and because THAT is The Office.

The randomness of everyday situations is what fuels this show and Charles brings with him a lot of the tense vibes that are currently floating through office buildings across America (and probably the world). As people are being laid off due to the "economy", the responsibilities are being shuffled around and compacted onto the shoulders of those who are left, who are, in turn, far more stressed knowing that with the rate of unemployment so high, any slight snafu could land them at the back of that line as someone takes their place.

This is exactly the work environment I don't want to be watching on television as television is my ESCAPE from the actualities of the workplace, which is why, I'm sure, it will be ending and returning back to some semblance of normal (or at least normal by "The Office" standards) before the season is over. The question is, how do you turn back that Frozen Donkey Wheel and what year do you pop out in? And if Older Miles touches Baby Miles, will time collapse onto itself, or will Older Miles just drop dead?


I can see two scenarios with The Office.

Firstly, Michael gets his job back. It's the easiest. He'll begin to steal clients from the Dunder Mifflin sales crew because Michael is an adept salesman. It's something we've seen time and time again: whenever Michael is put in a position of having to make a sale, he's suddenly not the complete ass that makes us squirm; he's a guy who knows EXACTLY what he's doing. If Michael (along with Pam and Ryan) take enough clients, Dunder Mifflin could "buy" Michael Scott Paper Company and re-employ the trio. They'll take a small loss given that Michael will want his clients to retain their 'savings', but it's a much smaller loss than if Dunder Mifflin lost the clients altogether.

Secondly, Dunder Mifflin closes the Scranton branch (Charles IS there to evaluate the branch) and Michael convinces the crew to stay on as members of the Michael Scott Paper Company. This is something America should be seeing more of in the near future, smaller businesses coming in and taking advantage of the mistrust the American public has for these larger businesses that seem to be reaping massive profits while firing employees, cutting back on benefits and exporting jobs to other countries… and crying about the "economy" problem from private yachts and jet planes.

I'm on board with the second option, mostly because it would give the show more freedom to be insane and that is when this show is at its best. Smaller offices that don't have to answer to a corporate office generally have more fun and are, because of this, far happier and more productive. If they go with the first option (even for the opposite reason: a complete failure of the Micheal Scott Paper Company), I would hope David Wallace would understand that the answer to his question from a few weeks before, "What are you doing right?" lies in the environment Michael creates in his office. That freedom to roll up your sleeves, play a few pranks, and laugh.

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