A Complete Rating of “The Office”
POSTED December 17, 2018
March 24, 2005 marked a cinematic and historic chapter for American television.
Of course we didn’t realize this until Steve Carell had a lead role in “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” and barely saved all the behinds of the Dunder Mifflin staff as NBC loomed over the sitcom, wanting to cancel the show.
But let’s not think about what almost was.
“The Office” (US) created by Jeff Daniels, Stephen Merchant and Ricky Gervais was an American sitcom about a paper company’s Pennsylvania branch in Scranton. What was hidden in such a basic and simplistic setting was a world embellished with comedy and drama.
Without second thought, people who possess even the blindest eye in pop culture can direct anyone to the legacy of this show. In fact, Many of the shows subplots hold more true to the hearts of the viewers than many other popular shows’ main conflicts and climaxes.
Jim’s steady efforts to win over Pam from her fiance (I know that doesn’t sound right, but Roy was a monster), Michael Scott’s insecure and emotional desire to be liked by his employees while childishly dealing with romance, Dwight Schrute’s iconic and plentiful snippets of comedic gold and refreshingly original personality AND the confused and hilariously unnecessary hatred towards Toby all arguably triumph over the likes of “The Big Bang Theory” and “Friends” when it comes to memorability.
But all shows have a weak point. A “perfect” show can’t exist because every element of a story runs on a sort of “checks and balances” system.
Let’s use “Parks and Recreation” and “The Walking Dead” to demonstrate. “Parks and Rec”’s characters run laps around “TWD”’s characters because the plots and settings of “Parks and Rec” are so boring and repetitive that the characters HAVE to develop charismatic and charming personalities alongside original and refreshing mindsets to help us through the show. “TWD”’s characters are seemingly flat (besides Daryl and Michonne, but that’s a personal preference), but that’s done on purpose so the plot can succeed in being exciting and nerve-wracking because it’s an apocalyptic warzone with flesh-eating zombies and ravaging psychopaths.
“The Office”’s problem is Michael Scott, or, rather, the absence of Michael Scott.
When Steve Carell (Michael Scott) leaves the show in the seventh season, the quality of the episodes degrades drastically. With the fan favorite, and arguably most protagonistic character of the show gone, a huge tear is ripped through the threads of the sitcom and stitching back up a tear that big is impossible.
So the producers decide to start over with a cheaper fabric.
A character by the name of Robert California (who was absolutely terrible) takes over for Michael Scott and rams our emotional connections to the show right into a friggin’ brick wall. Andy Bernard cries on a reality show competition, Ryan Howard is a self-centered dirtbag with a criminal record, no one knows where Michael Scott is and Dwight Schrute becomes the regional manager!
Dwight was never supposed to become regional manager.
And then the masterful finale reels all of us back in for one last emotional rollercoaster and we’re left forgetful about the past two seasons because the final episode masked that horrendous massacre.
It’s time to rate “The Office”.
For those who didn’t read my last rating of “Parks and Recreation”, I’ll put in the rating levels and the five categories once more to provide background info. Each category is rated from zero to ten, meaning that the maximum score a show can get is a fifty.
These are the rating levels we’ll use to calculate how “good” the show is.
1.0-8.9: Get yourself and your loved ones away from the screen — This is a truly awful and insulting TV show, and whichever major network made the decision to allow the public to see this should be sent to federal prison.
9.0-14.9: Hawaiian Pizza — Whatever positive benefits this show possessed were quickly drowned out by its flawed storytelling/character arcs/plot, so it isn’t worth the viewer’s time.
15.0-21.9: Mediocre but Hopeful — The show may have had some emotional or clever moments that made the viewer smile or laugh, but the end of the experience felt unsatisfying unfinished and incomplete.
22.0-28.9: Okay — This is an average TV show. It’ll surpass three seasons on air but probably not more than six, and there will be nothing particularly memorable about the show, but it does the job of entertaining the public.
29.0-35.9: Solid — To some, this show was amazing. To others, this show was decent. However, everyone can agree that it deserved a time slot, and it could usually be relied on to draw us as viewers into its story and leave us satisfied.
36.0-43.9: Exceptional — Now we’re getting into show territory that will put viewers in tears (in a good way, not a bad way), leave them on the edge of their seat and laugh their heart out. This level could easily be for the show of the year or maybe the show of the past five years.
44.0-49.9: Pop Culture King* — This level is for the show of the decade. A story with compelling and in-depth characters, a thought-gripping plot and a colossal and meaningful conflict belongs on this level; there are very few who can make it here.
50.0: The Greatest TV Show of All Time (S.O.A.T.) — This level only belongs to one show, and it’s the greatest one to ever make it to television. Some may immediately have an idea for what show deserves to be on this level while others (myself included) believe that this show doesn’t exist yet, but it might come along in the future.
*This is a name change from “Gloriously Remarkable and Outstandingly Impressive”.
Now let’s get to the five categories that we’ll use to judge “The Office”.
- Uniqueness — This category will judge just how original the show is compared to a typical sitcom. This would be where shows like “Stranger Things” and “Lost in Space” perform better than “Friends” or “The Big Bang Theory” simply because their plots are less recognizable and usually more imaginative. This category rates creativity as well as originality so it belongs as a factor to our final score.
- Character Impact — This category is where shows like “Breaking Bad” and “The Simpsons” would excel at due to the likes of Walter White and Homer Simpson. This category rates how deep and rounded the characters are and how their presence in the show impacts the viewers; thus, it deserves to be a factor to our final score.
- Relatability (to plot and/or characters) — This category is home to shows like “The Office” or “Parks and Recreation” due to how relatable the characters are and how simple the plot is. Shows like these would score points over entertainment powerhouses like “Game of Thrones” or “The Walking Dead” simply due to the viewers’ relatability to the situation that the characters are dealing with. Since relatability holds very positive impacts on viewers’ emotional connections to the show and its characters, it deserves to be a factor to our final score.
- Unpredictability — As I stated in a previous article, called “The flawed execution of rushed storytelling” (it’s a great article and I highly recommend it), predictability in any show is always one of its most critical problems. It leeches the excitement from the viewer watching the show because a certain aspect is so predictable that it’s hard not to envision what will easily happen next. Since unpredictability is so much harder to pull off than its counterpart and protects the viewers’ investment into a story, it reserves a spot on our final score.
- Creativity — Our final category, creativity and uniqueness share some similar portions, but each have their own payoff. Uniqueness is applauded and harder to come by in a show because we live in a time where almost every conceivable conflict that could be imagined has already been put to use in the entertainment industry. However, it’s creativity that cause those signature moments in a show that can’t be replicated anywhere else. To put it shortly, uniqueness and creativity are correlated, but they aren’t usually causated.
“The Office” Rating
Uniqueness: 9.1 — Picking up after the British version of show, “The Office” took all of the imagination from its reins and ran with it. Every relationship, conflict and climax finds a way to be either happily or painfully relatable yet strangely original and unique so that each episode is within the realm of realism but outside the realm of imitation.
Character Impact: 9.8 — Oh yeah; it’s that good. There is nothing more special in the world of television than the cast of characters this show offers. Each one of these brilliant souls are so defined and polished that, when working in tandem with each other, they can execute tremendously creative and marvelous scenes. The “Fire Drill” scene in The Office’s fifth season is extremely entertaining and (dare I say) perfectly performed. Dwight Schrute starts off the scene with the foreshadowing line “Today, smoking is going to save lives.” He then throws a cigarette in a trash can, cuts telephone lines and heats up door handles to simulate an actual fire while tricking all his coworkers into thinking it’s actually happening. When faced with the (supposed) threat of death, all of the characters come alive with their own comedic struggles. Michael Scott, usually boasting about how he’d protect anyone in his workplace, hilariously puts his own safety as his top priority, causing the others to do the same thing. While Dwight calmly walks around and tries to remind everyone about the proper procedures, everyone else is frantically sprinting around the room trying to escape. Michael tries throwing chairs out of the window to call for help, Oscar tries escaping through the vents, Angela tries throwing her cat to do the same (while the cat comedically falls back through the ceiling onto Angela’s desk), Stanley’s having a heart attack and Kevin’s breaking into the vending machines to raid the junk food as chaos ensues.
Relatability: 9.4 — The struggles of your love interest being with someone else but refusing to give up, the constant desire to be liked amongst your peers, the constant uncertainty of what the future entails and the small but powerful experiences one has with their loved ones all strike out of the park in the stadium of emotions. Often finding our own problems too hard to handle at the moment, resorting to this show always provides the solution we’re looking for.
Unpredictability: 6.7 — We all knew Jim would end up with Pam; come on, now. There is very little room for plot twists in this show, and the titles of the episodes are often enough for the viewer to outline the whole story with accuracy. As we get more acquainted with the characters, it becomes slightly easier to predict their next moves and antics. Believe it or not, Dwight setting the office on fire and almost killing Stanley is VERY in touch with his character and not at all unbelievable when we’re talking about Dwight Schrute. Michael Scott driving his car into a lake because his GPS told him to is also Michael Scott at his most “Michael Scott”. It’s how these scenes are set up and how entertaining they are that leads us to our final category.
Creativity: 9.2 — The “Fire Drill” scene was a greatly written and carefully calibrated sequence that brought out the best in each character. The “First Aid Fail” scene first exposed Michael’s incompetence to save lives and ended with Dwight cutting off the CPR dummy’s face and putting it on his. The “Gay Witch Hunt” scene starts with Michael trying to convey an important message to his employees in a meeting and ended with Michael forcing Oscar to kiss him to prove that it’s alright to be gay in the workplace. None of these scenes are outside the realms of realism, but all of them are extremely creative and there are several dozen of these types of scene in each season.
Final Score — 44.2 (Pop Culture King)
This is the show of the 2000s. The painful realism, the entirely unique character conflicts and drama, the in-depth relationships amongst polar opposite personalities, the creatively comedic scenes and the brilliantly eccentric writing, amongst thousands of other reasons, handsomely defend my point. Although meant to end about two seasons sooner, “The Office” will serve as an impressive paradigm and universal guideline for screenwriters alike for decades to come.
“The Office” (US) airing from 2005-2013, lasted nine seasons with NBC. The sitcom starred Steve Carell, John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, Rainn Wilson, Mindy Kaling and Angela Kinsey — among many others. The show is available to stream on Netflix via subscription or Youtube, iTunes, Amazon Prime Video, Vudu and Google Play at $1.99-$2.99 per episode.