After nine seasons, The Office series finale will give the employees of Dunder Mifflin the opportunity to say goodbye to their documentary, which airs this Thursday. We look back at the relationships and moments that made this show so special.
The Office took the mockumentary format that before 2004 was rarely, if at all, a viable television show concept. Over time we’ve come to love these quirky characters: Phyllis with her knitting, Angela with her cats, Creed with his, well, at times, suspicious activity, and Meredith and Kevin and Toby, the list goes on. The humor wasn’t in your face; it was every day, real-life, happens-to-real-people-sometimes humor thrown in with some wacky oh-no-Dwight-set-the-office-on-fire stuff.
Without further adieu, let’s commemorate the folks of Dunder Mifflin Paper Company before The Office finale. We should note that we talk about all nine seasons, so proceed with caution if you’re binging on Netflix right now – though we did mark specific spoilers from last week’s episode.
It should also be noted that there was too much material to adequately cover all nine seasons in this post. It’s hard to sum up all the plot twists and turns and appearances and revelations without writing pages upon pages of material. Think we missed an absolutely important aspect of the show? Let’s discuss in the comments!
He might have left a couple seasons ago, but Steve Carell’s Michael Scott became somewhat of a pop-culture icon, known for his perplexing, funny, and sometimes heartwarming quotes (see below).
The show found it’s footing in its ensemble cast, however it was Michael Scott, manager of Dunder Mifflin Scranton Branch, who became the break-out character the viewers tuned in for. In his quest to be universally liked by everyone in the office, his antics and silly personality often bordered on irritatingly childish or gullible. But when it came down to it, Michael was always there for his employees, ready to give advice (see: his conversation with Jim in the season one episode, “Booze Cruise”) or a supportive hug (see: his attendance of Pam’s art show in the season three episode, “Business School”). There’s no doubt the show suffered once Carell left, because no matter how hard a string of big names tried to replace him, Michael Scott could never be replaced. He also often had the most ridiculous, and therefore, gif-able lines.
Where to begin with these two. At the beginning, I suppose. Throughout seasons one and two, Pam was engaged to jerk-wad Roy while Jim was forced to watch on the sidelines. Then there was the intimate season two finale kiss that gave Jam shippers hope for these two. But our hopes are dashed in the season three premiere when it’s realized Jim had transferred to a different branch in an effort to distance himself from the pain of watching Pam and Roy continue on with their wedding – which Pam had broken off. Great – they’re both single! But wait! Enter Karen, (Rashida Jones, the reason why a Parks and Rec and Office crossover can never happen) Jim’s new girlfriend, who stays throughout season three. She leaves – well, technically Jim ditches her – in the finale when he adorably interrupts one of Pam’s confessional sessions to ask her out to dinner. Ah, young love.
Season four passes for these two largely without incident, as they continue to develop their relationship. It’s not until the season five premiere Jim proposes to Pam at an unconventional time and location, but it’s passionate and works for these two. During the finale (major Jim/Pam moments seem to book-end the seasons), it’s covertly revealed that Pam is pregnant. Season six was a doozy for these two: they get married in the middle of the season in a spectacular television wedding, and then a few episodes later welcome their first child, Cecilia, into the world. As season seven blends into season eight, they realize they’ve become the boring married couple. But, they’re still in love and adorable. Still, they have a second kid, and things become routine.
Which brings us to the current, and final season. The show waited nine seasons to inject some drama into this relationship, after smooth sailing for so long, Jim and Pam have been doubting themselves and their marriage throughout the season, leaving viewers to think about the possibility of a divorce. Hopefully, the finale doesn’t have any big surprises for these two, but [spoiler] after last week’s tear-inducing final ten minutes that included a montage of their romance, and Jim talking to Dwight about love, I believe they’re going to be okay. They have to be. They’re Jim and Pam.
It was during season seven that the show’s quality began to suffer (and you can dispute me on that, it’s a opinion, though a widely-accepted one), as it coincided with the expansion of a cast of weaker characters (Gabe, Jo) and the departure of Michael Scott.
Without over-simplifying it, these two have been on a nine-season-long lovers tryst. Stolen kisses and other ahem things happened most frequently in the dark corners of the warehouse during office hours, while the documentary film “cameras” were stil rolling. While they often dated other people, it was usually in an attempt to get a jealous rise out of one another. When Angela gave birth to son, Philip, at the beginning of season nine,
the show duped viewers into believing it was a Schrute baby, but the paternal test results concluded otherwise she denied he was Dwight’s, but if you watched last week’s episode, [spoiler] you’d know that Angela confessed, Dwight is a dadddy! Cue their road-side engagement (also reminiscent of Jim and Pam’s in season five.)
Andy/Erin & Pete/Erin
When Ellie Kemper joined the cast in season five, she played the naive, innocent secretary part perfectly. Her chemistry with Ed Helm’s Andy was apparent and their courtship injected some energy into the show. Over the past four seasons, they’ve been on-again, off-again partners, until Andy took the three-month boat trip earlier this season, and Pete entered the picture.
The Office has done something that was either well or ill received this season – bring the show around full circle. If all ends well, we’ll see the receptionist and sales guy embarking on a new life together. A storyline that is too similar to Jim and Pam’s to be coincidental.
While these two originally seemed to be more nemeses than friends in the workplace, with the endless pranks on Jim’s side, and Dwight’s endless search for more power than his counterpart, there’s been a shift over the years as they became comrades, partners in crime, and eventually, strangely, close friends. Jim comforted Dwight when Angela agrees to date Andy in season four, arguably the turning point in their friendship that went from occasional competitors on the sales team, to having one another’s backs.
They started in the pilot and haven’t stopped. Here are a few of the classics.
And then there was the one episode Jim and Dwight engaged in a massive prank battle and, in a role-reversal, Dwight pranked Jim for once.
That’s what she said
Ain’t no party like a Scranton party because a Scranton party don’t stop.
Jim’s deadpanned looks to the camera.
After this became a thing on the show, just like the inner-monologue from JD on Scrubs, many people (this author included) pretended their lives were being filmed for the camera. Sometimes it’s fun to just look off into the distance and give a half-smile, and a shrug of the shoulders.
This article could have been a lot longer, and we could’ve dedicated much more time to all the relationships and friendships and memories from the show. If the penultimate episode is any indicator, The Office finale this Thursday is going to be filled with heart-warming moments, and tears, lots and lots of tears.
Be sure to watch the hour-long retrospective at 8pm and the “supersized” 75-minute finale this Thursday on NBC.
That they are, Jim, that they are.