Time is basically irrelevant without markers to let you know it’s passing. You go along, day to to day, doing jobs, eating dinner and then suddenly, BOOM! something happens to remind you that you are getting old and that someday, you are going to die.
So it is with tomorrow’s series finale of The Office, a show that has been on since my last semester of undergrad, April 2005–so in a way, my whole adult life. That’s nine seasons and eight years. In Lizzy-time, that’s five baby cousins born into my family who aren’t babies anymore. Three states, six bedrooms, two degrees, two surfboards, eight roommates, five bikes, one book, six jobs, one real-life boyfriend and three pairs of glasses.
“The American Version of The Office,” which those of us just returning from abroad trips in Britain in 2005 continued to call it for at least the first four seasons, never really reached the insanely painful heights of its British predecessor. The genius of Ricky Gervais in his original production of The Office on BBC 2 was that he was able to create characters just on the edge of believable, that made you so uncomfortable you almost had to turn away, precisely because you knew they could be real people. The America Office could never quite achieve that; its characters were always just a bit too silly. But after awhile, the show became its own thing. As apposed to sitcoms that defined previous eras, filled with leisure time and absurd apartments, it was about the daily grind, spending the majority of your hours with people you didn’t choose, in front of computers and trying to work the copy machine. The Pam and Jim romance kept us hopeful; the antics of the various bosses made us feel like our bosses weren’t so bad and also weren’t so good. I don’t know if this is necessarily a good thing, but The Office helped a whole generation of us Millennials romanticize normalcy and lowered expectations. And it helped goofy tall guys everywhere get some action.
Anyone who cares at all about TV will tell you that in the last few years, (last handful of years?), The Office has lost some of its original magic. New shows like Parks and Recreation took its mockumentary style and did it better, with more laughs and a more purpose. It’s characters, especially Dwight, became too ridiculous. Pam and Jim proved that no one wants to actually see the happily ever after. But in this final season, it has come back to being meaningful. Pam and Jim hit the rocks, like all married couples (I am told) and the characters final became aware of the fact that they were in a documentary, which feels strangely satisfying. Tomorrow, the whole story will get wrapped up. Maybe Pam and Jim will leave Dunder Mifflin. Maybe they won’t. Either way, it will be a little bittersweet but not so bad. Everything has its time and maybe tomorrow the people who will really be quitting the paper company will be us. Time marches on. And now it is time to find another job–something a little more interesting maybe?– and a new TV show to define the next stage of our lives.