Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Dear NBC: An Open Letter from a Humble Fan

Dear NBC/Writers of The Office:

I love you. I love your show. I love your work. I'm sure you get fan letters all the time. "Let me be an extra!" "I want to come on the show!" "Can I have the Jello mold used to put Dwight's stapler in Jello?" But you probably don't get many letters from someone who has been a diligent follower since age 14. On two separate occasions I've actually DREAMT full-length original episodes. At a job interview a few weeks ago I was miserably unprepared for a question about basic psychology. But what happened? I instantly thought of Jim conditioning Dwight to expect mints at the sound of his computer powering down. I answered "Operant Conditioning is blah blah blah." This is just one example. The Office has been an integral part of my life since Season One. Even when everyone said The Office would never be good without Michael, I stuck with it and still enjoyed it immensely.

I hope this has earned me at least some credibility and respect. At least enough to present a suggestion for you. This is something I've thought on various occasions throughout my Office fandom career. Here goes:

I am not a prude. I curse too much. I watch R-rated movies. However, I frequently find myself questioning the content of The Office. Oscar is gay, and that's part of the show. The occasional reference to intimate sexual relationships is fine with me. I thought you did a great job with the Dwangela relationship. You've been tasteful with Oscar, and I appreciate that. Michael and Holly was ultimately a geeky relationship, and you used their intimacy to enhance that, instead of to be crude. I loved it.

Last week's episode "Angry Andy" violated this successful pattern of risque content used for classic Office humor. Instead of using Andy's impotence to build the finally-requited Erin-and-Andy relationship, or to play up his manager relationship with Robert or Nellie, it was this major feature of the episode that took the place of the glaring awkwardness of Nellie taking Andy's job, everyone hating her, Robert California doing nothing about it and no one sticking up for Andy except his girlfriend. It feels juvenile and irresponsible for you to choose to focus on something risque and intimate for a major portion of the episode rather than address the huge gaps you created in the story line.

Sure, anything you have Dwight do is going to be hilarious. He's straight currency. But overall, it wasn't that funny. The shock factor of using the word "erection" on primetime television may have given you the impression that it was humorous. Quite honestly, these episodes that focus on something racy for a prolonged period of time are no one's favorite.

Season Two - Sexual Harassment.
Season Three - Gay Witch Hunt, and a little bit of Ben Franklin
Season Six - Body Language, maybe a little bit of Secret Santa
Season Seven - Sex Ed
Season Eight - Angry Andy

These episodes are few and far between, but they stood out to me. Mostly because I believe people judged ME based on those episodes. They were crude, gross and largely unfunny. I hated that people judged your brilliant and hilarious show based on those few, cheap episodes. I hated that people thought that I must be one of those lowest-common-denominator people that wants to see everything scandalous, racy, stupid and empty. If I wanted that, I'd watch Jersey Shore.

But I don't. I want the awkward, intelligent design of a classic Office script. I want Michael grilling his foot. I want Jim's muttered sarcasm and facial expressions. I want Pam's earnest innocence. I want Stanley's irritated indifference. I want Dwight countering popular opinion with a rigid and uncompromising opinion and inability to relate to his coworkers. I want the ostracized Toby recognizing his futility.

I want the one-liners, brilliant design and comedic timing of awkwardness that leaves me feeling happy, not embarrassed. I want to proudly rep your show to my [adult] family and friends. I want to laugh when I cringe, not squirm in discomfort.

In essence, I want you to rise above the Jersey Shores. The Real Housewives of Narnia. The content-less comedies that last one season on Comedy Central. I know you're nowhere near that, but these handful of episodes make me nervous that it's the direction you'll fall - the path of least resistance. You're better than that. You're so much more than that. Be more. Be better. Be The Office.

I know you can do it.


Danica Holdaway
Professional Office Fan


  1. This is so classy and so relevant! I really hope you are sending this to NBC. I'm just getting around to catching up on the episodes of The Office that I missed while I was on my mission and I watched Sex Ed yesterday while my roommates were around. I was so embarrassed for them to hear what was going on. I really hope they do something about this!

    1. Coming from a brilliant English grad, that means a lot! Thanks dude. I really appreciate it. :)

  2. Send it! Send it!

    Love reading your blog.

    1. Ah thanks Mrs. Crandall!!! I sent it to a few different people. Makes me feel better even if it never gets read. :)

  3. Clap.....clap....clap..clap, clap, clap, clap! Loved it.

  4. I'm glad you sent this! This is great and I agree with you 100%. Let us know if anything comes of it :)

  5. Amen! I hope you actually sent this!