You guys know how much I love TV, right?
Eight years ago, I didn’t watch anything.
But in eighth grade, somebody told me about this show called The Office.
The Office changed everything for me.
Rather than try to explain it, I’m just going to let you guys read…
My Open Letter to The Office
Dear Cast and Crew of The Office,
I don’t even know where to begin. When we first met, I was an awkward 13-year-old with no idea who I was. Junior high was hard (duh police), and I tried way too hard to find my place in it all (obvious cops). It was full of misunderstandings, me saying the wrong thing, and (of course) unrequited love.
Then I started watching The Office. That first cold open, when Michael calls Jim’s female client “a gentleman and a scholar” over the phone… I know it sounds stupid, but somehow, that bit of comedy resonated with me right away. I was always doing and saying things I regretted, and here was an office full of normal people trying their best, which sometimes went horribly, horribly awry. They all did stupid stuff to clients at one point or another over those nine beautiful seasons, but everyone who worked at Dunder Mifflin Scranton (except for Jan, and maybe Ryan) had good intentions and good hearts.
Where to even begin?
Well, at the beginning.
Michael Scott was the regional manager of Dunder Mifflin Scranton for years. I’ve often seen him described as “bumbling” or “inept,” but I don’t agree. Sure, he was often terrible with people in the office. Who can forget Michael Klump or Prison Mike or Ping or the time he kissed Oscar or when he ruined Phyllis’s wedding to Bob Vance, Vance Refrigeration? But Michael Scott was always trying to do the right thing, and he could be so good at his job when the rubber hit the road. David Wallace called him to corporate to ask him how to run a successful branch. Michael won Salesman of the Year two years in a row. Consecutive. When Stanley disrespected him, Michael hemmed and hawed but finally looked Stanley in the eye and told Stanley to respect him at work. Michael Scott proved that you don’t have to be capable all the time to be good at your job.
And then there’s Michael’s love life. All Michael had ever wanted- since childhood! Remember Fundle Bundle?- was a wife and kids. But he could not catch a break. Remember how he proposed to Carol, his realtor, after nine dates? And Jan. Nightmare Jan Levinson
Gould. Michael was haunted by his relationship with Jan for so long. And then there was the married woman, and the poor chair model. For a long time, it seemed like Michael was never going to get to be happy. Either you felt bad for the woman for having to put up with Michael, or you felt bad for Michael for having to put up with Jan. But, knowing his good heart, you never stopped rooting for Michael.
And then there was Holly. I adore Holly. She was sweet, kind, caring, and beautiful, but still (as Jim put it) “a huuuuge dork.” She was perfect for Michael… and then she got transferred. Oh, was I upset when Holly got transferred. And then there was the company picnic, when Michael and Holly hung out again, and they were still perfect for each other. That episode ended with Michael saying this:
I didn’t find the perfect moment. Because I think that today was about just having today. And I think that we are one of those couples with a long story, when people ask how we found each other. I, will see her, every now and then, and, maybe one year she’ll be with somebody and the next year I’ll be with somebody. And it’s going to take a long time… and then it’s perfect. I’m in no rush.
And that was it. Michael and Holly moved to Colorado, and Steve Carell left the show. His last episode, “Goodbye Michael,” was one of the most perfect half-hours of television I have ever seen. It was sweet and sad and so perfectly Michael. There’s even this great moment between Michael and Oscar that shows us that Michael is just a little bit smarter than we think he is. With a final “That’s what she said,” Michael left us. And that was it. You assumed that he and Holly got married and had kids, but you never knew for sure.
They had said that Steve Carell didn’t feel like it was part of the character’s arc for Michael to come back, but when Dwight and Angela got engaged (augh… more on that in a bit), I freaked. No matter how bad Michael wanted to be buds with Ryan, Dwight was Michael’s best friend. It would be stupid for Michael to miss the wedding!
And he didn’t.
He only had a few real lines, but it wasn’t about that. It was about him being there… and showing Pam pictures of his kids. Kids, plural. Pam said, “He’s so excited to have a family plan.” It was just what he’d always wanted… and what we’d always wanted for him. We don’t even know what he does for a living now in Colorado… but isn’t that kind of the point? He’s not a job anymore. Now, Michael Gary Scott is a husband and a father.
I can’t really put it into fewer words than that, but I’ll try anyway:
Michael Scott, thank you for teaching me that saying stupid stuff doesn’t make you a bad person. Thank you for showing me not to give up on dreams, even when it seems totally hopeless. Thank you for showing me that there’s someone for everyone, and thank you for having a happily ever after.
You thought we were done? Hoo hoo! Nope.
Jim Halpert loved Pam Beesly, in his words, “pretty much the first day I met her.” They were best friends, and, after several agonizing seasons (Roy! Katie! Karen! Roy again!), Jim and Pam finally became a couple. They dated, got engaged, got married, and were married for a few seasons without any real struggles. And then, in the ninth season, the writers decided to shake things up. Jim stopped communicating with Pam, Pam was afraid to communicate with Jim, and they nearly split up. It was awful, but I was so glad that the writers chose to take their relationship in that direction. Jim and Pam are our generation’s Sam and Diane (if you don’t know who Sam and Diane are, GET OUT). They’re the It Couple! This season of The Office courageously showed us that even the It Couple needs to work at marriage. It’s give and take, not live and let live. And in the most recent few episodes, we got to remember what made Jim and Pam Jim and Pam in the first place with some beautiful flashbacks and montages. The Halperts set the standard for couples, for better or for worse.
Jim Halpert, thank you for showing me what love looks like, what to hold out for. Thank you for being certain, for always being certain of Pam. Thank you for showing me that love goes after what it wants, no matter the obstacles, and that indifference and laziness aren’t love at all. Thank you for screwing up, and thank you for giving up what you wanted (Athlead) for what you needed (Pam).
Jim is wonderful, obviously, but I’ve got a special place in my heart for Pam. At the beginning of the show, Pam is so afraid. She’s with Roy because she’s been with him for so long that she’s afraid to not be with him. She’s a secretary at Dunder Mifflin because she’s afraid to pursue her art. She hesitates to move pursue a relationship with Jim because she’s afraid of ruining their friendship. In junior high (and, let’s be honest, high school), I was afraid of things like that too. But there is this wonderful moment in the episode Beach Day where Pam works up her courage, runs across hot coals, and announces to everyone exactly what is on her mind. You see Pam conquer her fears, right there, in front of everyone. In the next episode, Jim and Pam finally get together. It takes Pam a while to realize her dreams of being a paid artist, but with Jim encouraging her, it is so much easier… and all because Pam, meek, quiet little Pam, had the courage to speak her mind. On tonight’s episode, Pam said that she hoped she could inspire just one girl to overcome her fears. Pam, I’m sure there have been many, but I promise that you’ve definitely inspired one.
Pamela Beesly Halpert, thank you for teaching me to be brave. Thank you for showing me what happens when you go after what you want, and thank you for letting me know that it’s okay to be scared. Thank you for supporting Jim, even when it’s hard, and when it hurts. Thank you for answering one last phone call at the secretary’s desk. Thank you for… everything, Pam. Thank you for everything.
I’m running really long here, so I’ll keep the rest of my thank-yous short.
Dwight Schrute, thank you for teaching me the importance of being a Determined Worker Intense Good worker Hard worker Terrific. Thank you for showing me the importance of self-discipline, and for filing all of those complaint reports on Jim to that special file in New York.
Angela Martin Schrute, thank you for always sticking to your guns. Thank you for forgiving Phyllis and Oscar, even though forgiveness isn’t your strong suit. But mostly thank you and your now-husband Dwight for showing me that true love can be weird, but that doesn’t make it any less true than non-weird love.
Oscar Martinez, thank you for your kindness to Angela in her time of need, as well as your well-intentioned pretension. Also, thank you for that time that Michael kissed you. That was awesome.
Kevin Malone, thank you for being Kevin Malone. I think I’ll miss you most of all.
Kelly Kapoor, thank you for Subtle Sexuality and the music video for Male Prima Donna. Also, thank you for being Mindy Kaling and writing The Mindy Project and mostly just being as perfect in real life as you are totally twisted on The Office.
Toby Flenderson, thank you for not committing suicide. Depression affects many employees of offices (Dwight you ignorant slut!), but somehow, inexplicably, you stay strongish. Proud of you… I guess. You’re mostly just, like, an evil snail.
Erin Hannon, thank you for following in Pam’s secretarial footsteps by being brave enough to ditch Andy, who was a terrible boyfriend to you, for Pete, who is crazy sweet to you. Who’s Pete? Oh, sorry… Plop.
Phyllis Lapin-Vance, thank you for showing me that passionate love of one’s husband can continue into your… how old are you? Forties? However old Michael is. You guys are the same age.
Stanley Hudson, thank you for your enthusiasm on Pretzel Day, and for not noticing when anything in the office is different ever.
Andrew “Nard Dog” Bernard, thank you for sticking around. I missed you in the ninth season, but I love how you always go after your dreams. Your weird, crazy, unaccompanied-musical dreams.
Meredith Palmer, thank you for getting hit by Michael’s car. Best cold open of anything ever.
Creed Bratton, thank you for being impossible to figure out.
Ryan Howard, go away. You’re the worst. Thanks for that “custardy” joke though. And for taking Michael to business school in my favorite episode, entitled “Business School.” And thanks for starting the fiyah!
Thanks also for introducing me to two of my favorite shows, 30 Rock and Parks and Rec, simply because they were on after you. Thank you for kicking off the movie careers of Steve Carell and John Krasinski and the television career of Mindy Kaling. I can’t wait to see what else happens because you made it.
Thank you, cast and crew of The Office, for making such a weird little show. You understood me, and you got me through growing up. I’ll miss you more intensely than Michael missed that turn when he drove into the lake, and your absence will land harder than Michael would have if he’d jumped off the roof onto that bouncy house. You may be gone, but you’ll never be forgotten.