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.