Monday, February 25, 2013

The Office: Goat-Thieves

 I had been asking myself, 'why do I still watch The Office?'
To answer that, I'm going to hold up 'Parks And Recreation' in contrast. When I sit down to watch 'Parks And Rec.', I'm repeatedly told by the characters, ' We're clever. We're kind. We're loving. We're capable."
When I sit down to watch 'The Office', I'm repeatedly told the opposite. "We're cruel. We're Crass. We're Childish. We're, in short, horrible people."
These characters didn't start out that way and I came to the conclusion that I keep watching because I want to see things go wrong. It comes from an ugly, lizard-brained place and I'm not exactly proud of it, but I watch the show, hoping that bad things will happen to these people because, at some point in the sixth or seventh season, the writers started to tear down all the good will they'd built up. I have to liken it to gathering in a town square and throwing rotten cabbage at a goat-thief.
The character who, so utterly, embodies this is Jim, who was my favorite character for the longest time but he devolved into, kind of, a jerk. He started out as an every-man who occasionally did pranks. The writers decided that the pranks were more important than the character. With each season, he's become meaner and meaner, doing pranks that were increasing less justified. I tune in, hoping to see Jim's story arc end like a Russian novel, with him cursing a cold and uncaring universe.  

This is a strange, new kind of narrative, where the audience tunes in to hate the characters. With The Office, I believe it's accidental, but you can also point to 'It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia.' and I believe, 'Curb Your Enthusism' in the same way.

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