The Office isn’t off the air yet and its ratings are good and NBC is desperate enough that it will keep on paying money to keep it on the air. When the competition is Parks and Recreation and Community, shows that no one outside LA and New York even watches, then it doesn’t have too much to worry about, but the season premiere is a reminder of how completely the show has been ruined.
Seasons 1 and 2, the Office was funny without being a sitcom. It was exaggerated but it also had the reality of the workplace, the senseless misery and lack of control, the awkwardness of the people you work with whom you’re around all day but don’t really know or like, and the sense that you would rather be doing something else if you weren’t being paid to do this pointless thing.
Then the show let go of the reality more and more, and just let the characters run wild on a collision course with each other. It was close to a sitcom but it was still unexpected, awkward and felt grounded in a workplace. Year by year that changed, and then this is the season that it became a sitcom. A sitcom without a laugh track, but with all the lameness.
The Office was always going to become a sitcom, the more Michael became Homer Simpson and Dwight was allowed to run wild, and Jim and Pam became smug parents, the closer it got. But nothing cliched it like a show digging up a plot that almost every office sitcom has toyed with, the boss dividing the office by turning them against each other, and the moment where Andy walks in to deliver a sitcom cliche of standing up for his fellow workers that is determined to make viewers feel good, without earning it. It’s the end.