Screen » Screen News

Death of a Sales Office

In its ninth and final season, the NBC comedy has become contrived


Remember when Kramer decided to eat in the shower at the end of Seinfeld and install a garbage disposal in the drain? That's where The Office is in the middle of its final season.

The term "jump the shark," coined when Fonzie literally jumped over a shark on Happy Days, is an idiomatic phrase representing pop-cultural death.

In Seinfeld parlance, The Office has finally installed a garbage disposal in its shower.

The original appeal of The Office was its wince-inducing verisimilitude. Now in its ninth and, like Seinfeld, last season, The Office's comedic cringes don't come from how real everything feels, rather they're mostly derived from how outlandishly contrived the show has gotten.

Nobody works at that place anymore; they just get into increasingly preposterous situations like a bunch of poorly juggled Lucille Balls. Since this season's premiere, we've seen a potentially dangerous electromagnetic field in the building, an implausible news-broadcasting audition and a murder-for-hire scheme.

Everyone has become stupid, easily duped or disconnected from the reality that used to define the show's writing.

For example, I doubt an employee who has no investment in the company can commission a colleague to paint a mural in the warehouse.

Also, I'm guessing if your boss ever takes off for three weeks sailing to Bermuda without announcing it to anybody, his boss will probably fire him or--at the very least--appoint a replacement boss. In The Office office, they just talk about how their boss is on a big boat ride and go about their business of not conducting any business.

On the good side, the show is beginning to break the fourth wall by "hiding" from the fake documentary crew while the characters are still clearly being recorded. And there are signs of life with lines like, "You're not stupid; jazz is stupid."

But the only way The Office can end well--with the arc of its increasingly atonal scenarios over the past couple of seasons paying off--would be for Dwight to kill and eat everyone at Dunder-Mifflin.

Trending in the Alternative Press