“I think an ordinary paper company like Dunder Mifflin was a great subject for a documentary. There’s a lot of beauty in ordinary things. Isn’t that kind of the point?”
I know, I know. The internet has been buzzing about The Office for a while now. With the show’s debut in 2005, The Office quickly became a television hit as well as an iconic piece of comedy. Not to mention its idiosyncratic film style, which combines a documentary style with frequent talking heads. Most important, however, is the authenticity of the show—moments when the audience laughs and cries in common sympathy. And despite the drab setting of a small commercial office, the writers of The Office have really managed to pull out a lot of material and impart some significant wisdom in the process. So here are five things I learned from The Office:
1. Love takes time. The best example of this is Jim and Pam. They experience a lot of waiting on both sides, with Pam’s engagement to Roy, Jim’s relationship with Karen, and even Pam’s time in art school. Their marriage is no perfect picture either, but they understand that despite the difficulties, love only gets stronger and better with time.
2. You just gotta put up with shit sometimes. One of my most favorite episodes is when Stanley rebels against Michael by lashing out, “Did I stutter?” (Season 4, Episode 16). Michael gets real with him and lets him know that even though he may be a pain to work with, Stanley has to put up with it for the sake of respect for the manager. And that is a known lesson to all members of the Office as they put up with Michael’s constant shenanigans out of courtesy cause sometimes, you just gotta deal with it.
3. You take care of the people you work with. The Office is filled with kind deeds. The members of the office help Michael with his wedding proposal to Holly, Jim throws Dwight the best bachelor party, Jim prevents Dwight from getting fired at his Florida job, Pam gives Michael advice on Holly, the list goes on and on. The point is, problems roll over into the work place and the people around you should be there to help you through it.
4. Sometimes you take detours. And that’s okay. When Andy returns for the panel discussion in the finale, everyone gives him hugs of sympathy and tries to tiptoe around his fragile ego. However, Andy makes a comeback by showing up as Cornell’s commencement speaker, his core saying: “Oh, I could totally just sit here and cry!” Andy took a few detours on his way to the final episode. And other characters sympathize with this as people like Erin and Angela took a few detours until reaching those they love (Pete and Dwight). But those detours are part of the journey and if you wait long enough, happiness won’t be too far away.
5. You aren’t always treated the way you deserve. Throughout the show, Dwight is mistreated by Michael, even going so far as to do his laundry for him and watering the plants in the office at night. Despite this, Dwight knows what he deserves and relies on his sales record to promote him… one day, some day. He makes mistakes (shooting a gun in the office) and he gives up sometimes (looking at job ads at work), but he perseveres in the end, eventually becoming the manager he always dreamed to be. Michael experiences his own setbacks as well, eventually quitting his job out of anger at David Wallace, saying, “I deserve better.”
The internet was right to go crazy about this show. Not only is it beautiful in its humor, but also in its simplicity. There is something special about “ordinary things” because we find there are universal lessons everywhere.