Office Extras

The U.S. version of The Office is going to end with the next season (season 9), and I’m glad to hear this.

The Office has been abysmal since Steve Carell left the show, and wasn’t all that great for his last 2 seasons. Season 8 has been an abomination. The characters are no longer anything like the wonderful personas that were established early on in the series. They’ve turned into poor caricatures of their former selves, acting out of character. The humor has become ham-fisted. The deterioration of the show curiously parallels the overall storyline of the excellent “Extras“.

I’m a huge fan of The Office, both the original UK version and the early seasons of the U.S. adaptation. This of course led me to seek out other creations by Ricky Gervais, and I discovered the wonderful “Extras”— his follow-up of sorts to the original “The Office”. For those unaware, “Extras” follows the story of Andy (portrayed by Gervais) as an aspiring actor in the British entertainment industry. The series satirizes and critiques the treatment of creativity in a corporate setting. It’s quite direct and pointed in its attacks, and quite poignant and moving at times. It hits home more-so for me as a commercial artist, having experienced analogous situations time and time again in my business.

It struck me that NBC’s “The Office” followed a very similar story arc to that of “Extras”, where we see the clever and original seed of an idea bastardized to a watered-down and unrecognizable abomination by the time Andy’s television show (within the Extras storyline) finally gets on air. I can’t help but think that Gervais sees these parallels plainly.

I’ve yet to see a breakdown of what happened to “The Office”. Was it the original writing staff leaving? From what I understand, many of the actors in the cast are also writers, but I am sure there were many more on the team. Was it just an inevitable consequence of a show that’s gone on far longer than the premise can support it? One has to imagine the actors see this contradiction in their characters. The last Season 8 episode I watched had Jim in total slapstick mode, Dwight with an unappealing runaway confidence, and a blandness to the rest of the characters that has made them all but forgettable. I gave up on the show early in Season 8. It was just too painful to watch.

If you’ve not yet watched “Extras” and you’re a fan of “The Office” on NBC, give Extras a view. I think you’ll agree that Gervais’ nightmare story of hampered creativity has played itself out in real life with one of his own creations.

3 thoughts on “Office Extras

  1. I have to agree that The Office isn’t nearly as funny as it used to be. Steve Carell really did make the show fun to watch and even though his departure wasn’t perfect, it was still better than what the show is today. I’m a creature of habit and for some reason I’m holding on to the idea that maybe something revitalizing will happen. So I’ve set my Hopper for the season premiere tonight and the remainder of the season. Maybe we’ll get lucky and they’ll bring back Carell as a cameo of sorts or maybe something will finally give Schrute an excuse to completely flip his lid. A lot of my DISH co-workers aren’t too excited about the show’s return and I feel that way too. So hopefully something will make this season watchable.

    1. Yeah I think I may give season 9 a try, at least the premiere. Perhaps the team has both realized how bad the show has gotten and will want to step things up for the final season. I’m kind of doubting it, but it’s worth a watch.

      As far as Carell, I’m thinking he almost has to make at least one cameo, probably for the finale.

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