Andy Grenne did the Lord’s work with this one. He talked with everyone; producers, writers, directors, actors (even Steve!), costume designers, and caterers. It’s everything you could have ever wanted to know about The Office, all in one book. It’s the perfect quarantine read!
Where to even begin with The Office. We have a long history, this show and I.
I was in fifth grade when the first season aired so I didn’t see the first few seasons until later, but my parents watched them and I have distinct memories of watching the Fun Run air on TV. It became something we watched pretty regularly as a family and I am very proud of the Tester’s collective Office knowledge. Seriously, it’s considerable.
And while I’ve watched episodes here and there sporadically for years, it wasn’t until quarantine that I actually sat down and rewatched the whole series from start to finish. Partly because I don’t rewatch shows in general (the exception being Arrested Development) and partly because I remember being so dismayed after Michael left. A reaction that pretty much held up this go round. But Greene’s book shed a lot of interesting light on those last few seasons.
And all the other seasons.
Seriously, it was fascinating. Everything from how an American version was proposed, the casting process, the evolution of the characters. Tons of Easter eggs and hidden gems are revealed. They talk about how they very intentionally developed tensions between characters (romantic and otherwise), how it felt to be in the writers room (wow and yikes) and what it felt like when Greg Daniels and Michael Schur left to do Parks and Rec. Even things like intentionally hiring camera men from Survivor and giving them a lot of creative liberty to get a real drama documentary feel. There’s also a connection between The Office and video iPods that was so funny and really put the show in pop culture context.
And I didn’t realize how many times The Office was almost pulled from the air. Like even several seasons in because there was some personnel shake up at NBC. Thank goodness it wasn’t!
Plus, the insight on Steve Carell’s exit and the last season in particular were wild to read out. There’s a little bit of reading between the lines but to get an insider’s perspective on such a divisive issue was worth the read.
It was bananas. I won’t tell you everything that I found interesting, I literally texted our family group chat new fun facts like every page, but I will say, if you love The Office this is a must read. Greene took something like 18 months to interview everyone and get a really thorough history of the show from the people who were most involved.
Ok, I will share one detail that still freaks me out. At various times in casting they wanted both Paul Giamatti and Philip Seymour Hoffman to try out for Michael Scott. PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN. Can you imagine???
But it’s not the shock and juicy details that compel me to recommend this book. It was the feeling of being welcomed into a family reunion. To go on a new journey to learn about the characters I love and grew up with, the relationships and jokes and human moments. It sounds dumb, I know it’s just a TV show, but it really was like watching the series finale for the first time. Which is why I think it’s the perfect quarantine read.
Okay. Now that I’m all in my feels about this, let’s talk about bests, worsts, and most cringy of the show. But this is going to be an abbreviated list because if I let myself get into it I’ll write a 15 page essay so let’s spare us both that hardship.
- The best:
- Jim and Pam’s relationship. Some people don’t love them together, and at one point things get rough (the writers almost broke them up and I would have RIOTED), but I love it. And I love them. I will die on this hill.
- Michael and Holly’s relationship. There really is the perfect person out there for everyone.
- Erin and Plop’s relationship. I wanted more closure since we didn’t get any, but it was basically Jim and Pam 2.0 so obviously I’m in.
- So many jokes. SO MANY. Impossible to list them. I can’t even start.
- Basketball, The Alliance, The Injury, Dwight’s Speech, Drug Testing, The Merger, Safety Training, Product Recall, pretty much all of season 4, Weight Loss 1+2, Frame Toby, Gossip, the wedding episodes obviously (RIP Andy’s scrotum), Koi Pond, Dwight attacking himself at the beginning of Murder, The Cover-Up, The Search, Threat Level Midnight, Goodbye Michael.
- The bad:
- When the writers were setting up Jim and Pam to break up (Christening, Jim in Philly, etc).
- All the Idris Elba, Cathy Bates, and James Spader mess. I love them all as actors but geez those were rough episodes.
- Andy’s journey starting like, a little into season seven. They explain why they decided on him being manager and some more background in the book, but I still think that was a terrible decision. He should have stayed a semi annoying, semi pitiable side character.
- The Florida storyline. That whole thing- bye.
- The Carpet, The Convict (even though I obviously love Prison Mike), Job Fair. Pretty much all of season 8.
And finally, we have the cringy.
- Scott’s Tots. I literally cannot watch this episode. I skipped it this time and every time my brother or dad turn it on, I have to leave the room. It hurts.
- Dinner Party. Also very difficult for me to sit through but it’s worth the pain so I stick it out.
- All the Gabe stuff, especially with Erin. Oh geez, the Glee watching party episode.
- OH MY GOSH I FORGOT THE GARDEN PARTY. With Andy’s parents and everything. Oof.
- Much of Ryan and Kelly’s relationship.
- Prince Family Paper, Michael’s roast, Happy Hour, Michael roasting himself in the koi pond episode are all painful but not so much cringy I guess.
- The Pilot some but I actually don’t think it’s as bad as people say.