Like everyone else I know between 18-48 with a Netflix account, I have an Office obsession. I spend many an evening exploring Netflix’s recommendations for a half hour before saying, “screw it,” and putting The Office on, probably “Dinner Party,” and falling asleep to the soothing sounds of Hunter singing of his deflowerment via Jan.
You’d think then, that I would’ve been very excited by the news that Jenna Fischer (Pam, who isn’t the worst, but also isn’t the best), and Angela Kinsey (Angela, underrated, and as the kids say these days, “an icon”) were starting a podcast recapping The Office. I’ll listen, naturally, but my expectations are low. Jenna and Angela (SAVE BANDIT!) seem nice, and their real-life friendship warms my heart, but I’m afraid they are too close to the source material to remain completely objective. I’m afraid their memories might be a little too rose colored to allow them to really give an honest assessment of say, the fact that Andy Bernard is not funny, a waste of my viewing time, or that his relationship with Erin was troubling at best. I’m afraid they won’t even give The Office its real due, because there were times that that show got dark (this is a compliment), and they seem like very positive ladies.
I was similarly skeptical when I heard there was a musical based on The Office. Nostalgia sometimes has a habit of being just a little too earnest, and while there are parts of The Office that certainly revel in earnestness (Michael and Holly’s love story was one of the purest things I’ve ever had the privilege of viewing), I just didn’t think it wouldn’t be an eye-roll worthy schlock-fest. And I mean, musical theater is already so earnest—I should probably add that I’m not a theater person and definitely not a musical theater person. At the risk of generalizing, I find it all borderline exhausting, which naturally means I’m the perfect person to review The Office! A Musical Parody (yes, the exclamation point is already exhausting me) musical for you.
Jokes aside, I feel very qualified for the task for the following reasons:
- I’ve seen The Office start to finish at least 10 times, which naturally makes me very unique.
- I’m a native of Northeastern PA. I’ve grown up in the shadow of Scranton and lived there during college for five years (yes, five).
- I often have to answer questions about The Office when I let people know where I’m from.
- I saw the musical at The Scranton Cultural Center IN SCRANTON.
- The Office premiered my freshmen year of college at The University of Scranton and its final episode was the week of my 5-year University of Scranton reunion. That’s what we call some real circle-of-life-shit right there.
- Jim Halpert and I both went to “The U.”
- I have worked for the past four years as a salesperson in offices in the greater Scranton area that truly make me question whether this is a work of fiction.
- “She was a dentist hygienist from Carbondale and made love like one,” is a perfect line of dialogue that I understand on a deeply intrinsic level.
- I have a literature degree!
- I have an online blog, and thus my opinion matters.
I’m delighted to report back that I thoroughly enjoyed my viewing experience. I laughed loudly more times than expected, and while the show did generally have an earnest sheen, they also very much understood that integral darkness purveying Dunder Mifflin. They also understood to rightfully end the play when the show should’ve ended: with Michael’s departure.
Would I recommend seeing the show? Probably. Maybe. It’s hard for me to say because I went with a friend who had free tickets, which of course means I can recommend seeing the show, but I can’t recommend paying for the show. All in all, I liked it. I do, however, have some nitpicks. I have a blog and an English degree after all. If you don’t want spoilers, this is where you make your exit.
The show’s most egregious oversight and a real travesty was the show’s decision to not portray one Stanley Hudson. Stanley may not have been at the forefront of many office plots, but he was an integral part of the Dunder Mifflin family, and the OG office grump, the guy every office has who has no time for your bullshit and just wants to get home to his programs and red wine. Plus, Stanley is low key one of Michael’s greatest foils. Now, they were working with a limited cast, with a number of actors doing double or triple duty, but if Kathy Bate’s character made an appearance in the play, Stanley should’ve. If Karen Fillipelli had a lot of lines (until she stormed off to “go to Parks & Rec,” a line that made me chuckle), and if Mose made an appearance, then there should’ve been a Stanley, especially since you could’ve just plopped a dummy in the corner, put a mask on it, and had Stanley napping the entire time as he does every Halloween.
The elephant in the room is that the only other main cast member not portrayed was Daryl…which, I’m just going to leave that there. While Stanley was a key member of the company since day one, Darryl increased in importance as the series went on, and had more plot lines than Stanley at the end. Daryl at least got a shout out though, in the form of Kelly saying he dumped her. I don’t recall Stanley being mentioned, not even when they mentioned bagel day, which is a GD crime. I know I said in my last post I’d try to not get too woke, but guys, c’mon! This was a bad look.
Stanley and Daryl deserve better.
Other assorted nitpicks (But also: praise!)
- I’ll start with a positive. I love that Elizabeth the stripper made an appearance in her nurse costume to hand out the check at the end of Michael’s fun run. That was a deep cut I appreciated.
- Michael was played by a woman. I’m not sure the reasoning behind that, but I didn’t love the choice. Early Michael Scott is toxic masculinity personified.
- I feel like Jim shouldn’t have sang or danced. The real Jim would consider himself above that.
- I would’ve liked a sexually charged duet between Phyllis and Bob Vance.
- I appreciated the dark assessment of the character of Erin.
- This is just a general assertion: Kelly Kapoor is truly one of television’s great sociopaths.
- Not enough Michael and Holly. Forget Jim and Pam. Theirs was the great love story of The Office.
- Show and play nitpick: not skewering the Scranton accent is a huge missed opportunity. It was made for that.
- I think one of the most touching moments of the show, and for me at least the beginning of the Michael Scott redemption tour, was when Michael came to Pam’s art show and I wish the play would’ve included that, because while he started the show a complete buffoon, he ended his run as a changed guy, a guy who didn’t let life beat him down, and got the happy ending he deserved. I’m such a fan of their relationship in general. Pam hugging Michael in the airport will never not give me a lump in the back of my throat. I was also hoping that would’ve gotten an acknowledgement of that friendship, but no such luck.
- My biggest nitpick with the play is my biggest nitpick for the show and is taking this post full circle. I started with her. I’ll end with her. ALWAYS. MORE. JAN. Say it with me now: you burn it, you buy it.
*If you’ve never seen The Office, this play will be a waste of your time.