Space Ramblings

The Yuppiefication of The Office

Sure The Office got started by cramming together the scripts for the UK Office, and the whole Mumblecore aesthetic, but the results were an occasionally awkward, but enjoyable adult version of Freaks and Geeks, but minus the preachiness that infected that series. Flash forward to Season 6 though, and it’s easy enough to see that the show has become the story of the journey of the Golden Couple of Jim and Pam to yuppiedom, while the rest of the cast remain as laughable freaks, incapable of learning and growing.

The Delivery makes it all too clear that the series expects us to follow Pam and Jim through the “trials and tribulations” of being dimwitted yuppie parents, driving any children insane with their neurotic parenting based entirely on parenting books, while trying to pick out pre-schools, schools and their child’s entire future. In other words it’s Away We Go the Series. Did anyone sign up for this? Not really. But there’s no way around it. And it’s inevitable.

Because there’s a reason why movies about nerdy white boys who meet nerdy white girls and bond over their shared love of awkward things don’t have sequels. Take the ending of Adventureland and advance it forward 10 years and you would have two people you couldn’t help but want to kill (assuming you didn’t want to kill them already). Mumblecore was focused on the neurotic angst of privileged twenty somethings. As it turned out, so was The Office.

The Office could have kept it real. It could have done what it seemed willing to do in episodes like Christmas Party, which was allow the others characters to grow and change too. Instead the rest of the Office was Homer Simpsonized, made dumber, crazier and more amoral than ever. Meanwhile Jim and Pam got more smug than ever. And this progression exposes the privilege behind the series and how much it differs from the UK Office. Because the US Office isn’t really about the workplace or the middle class anymore. It’s about the horror of both from the perspective of people who feel superior to the whole thing. Which when you come around to it is the theme of movies like Adventureland or the umpteen movies about smart and superior high school kids who somehow have to survive the ignorance and bullying of their peers until they can finally get into Yale and then make movies about it.

Sound familiar. Welcome to The Office.

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