Please find something else to stan.
By Nora Hogan
The Office isn’t funny. There, I said it.
Before you get your pitchforks out, let me explain myself: The Office is not a true comedy. It’s nothing more than a compilation of failed punch lines and misogynistic jokes followed by an awkwardly-placed fourth wall break. At this point, you may be asking me, “If The Office isn’t funny, then why do so many people love watching it?”
Well, I argue that most people who “like” The Office do so in order to conform to a societal norm.
In my freshman year of high school, I watched all nine seasons of The Office on Netflix to see what all the hype was about. It seemed as if the entire world had a “Beets, Bears, Battlestar Galactica” Redbubble sticker on their Hydro Flask. Like any 14-year-old girl, I just wanted to embody ~the norm~. So, after my parents said that they would not finance a fancy metal water bottle, I decided to start watching The Office. So, for the following two months, instead of doing homework, I watched the show for hours on end.
Over the duration of my viewing experience, I think I laughed maybe once when Angela threw her cat into the ceiling during the fire drill episode, and at a select few pranks that Jim pulls on Dwight throughout the series. Other than these select moments, every other “funny” scene simply made me cringe. Remember when Michael forced Oscar to kiss him to prove that he wasn’t homophobic, but then continued to ridicule Oscar’s sexuality throughout the rest of the show? Yeah. Any attempt that the show’s creators made at trying to address serious issues like race, sex, or sexual orientation pretty much resulted in an awkward laugh or a disgusted reaction from me.
Now, I’m all about the politically incorrect joke. I love It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, which is possibly the crudest show that has ever aired on television. However, a difference exists: Always Sunny is funny because it’s so bawdy and outrageous that you can’t help but laugh. The Office fails at satirizing sexist and racist office-place behavior because the scenarios presented in the show are too similar to reality. Especially in light of recent social movements, it’s hard to watch an episode today in which Michael hits on Pam or makes a sexist joke without thinking of the #MeToo movement. Maybe we’re becoming too politically correct as a whole, but I personally do not find the objectification of women particularly comical.
Then why is The Office so popular? I believe that this phenomenon is a direct result of the power of White Girls™ worldwide. (To be clear, you don’t have to be Caucasian or female to be a white girl. All you have to do is a) wear fashionably-cropped mom jeans unironically, b) have a Starbucks Gold membership, and c) like your own Instagram pictures for maximum clout.) Although white girls may be mocked universally for being seemingly “basic”, they largely influence society by making certain aspects of pop culture a part of their collective personality. I wish I were kidding. White girls control what’s hot and what’s…not. Don’t believe me? Take the sudden popularity of Birkenstock sandals as another example of the power of white girls. If you saw someone walking down the street in a pair of Birkenstocks in 2010, they were either your unwashed, elderly pot-smoking neighbor or another outcast of society with an athlete’s foot problem. Back in 2010, white girls were rebounding from the Britney Spears era of the early 2000s, automatically placing the Birkenstocks brand at the bottom of the theoretical totem pole. However, in the following years, while unconsciously sensing the rise of hipster culture (e.g. craft beer, Warby Parker glasses, etc.), white girls decided to make the shoe brand a part of their collective personality. After this shift, everyone and their mother started wearing Birkenstocks, but it didn’t stop there. Birkenstock became a personal brand for many. Today, you can even find “You BirkenROCK” embroidery on Etsy. Seriously. But, I digress. The Office, along with its unfunny siblings That 70s Show and Friends, is an integral part of every white girl’s Netflix list; therefore, it must be funny, at least by societal standards.
For those of us who are able to partially exist outside of the confines of society’s crushing influence, we know the truth about The Office. It’s just not funny. So, the next time that you feel the urge to rewatch the series for the millionth time, resist it. Join the resistance. Although our overlords may be clad in athleisure, armed with Airpods, and enjoying a completely harmless TV show, in the words of Public Enemy, “You gotta fight the powers that be.”