The Office

August 18, 2013

The year was 2008. We were a newly-married couple living in New York. The start of our happily-ever-after married life. I had been in the states a few years already. The missus was still relatively new to the country, and finding her feet in the new life. Those were exciting times when everything seems fresh and blissful.

I had heard about this TV series called The Office, so decided to check it out. Tried once. Tried twice. It didn’t make much sense, from a short 5-minute clip. There were a bunch of dull looking people talking to the camera, or each other, in what seemed almost like a documentary. I had no idea why people would rave about it.

Then we saw a full episode. It wasn’t that bad, though for someone used to Friends and Everybody Loves Raymond, this was different. Very different. There were no people doing funny things, or falling over banana peels. There was no canned laughter. This wasn’t how comedy was supposed to be done.

But like cheese, or AR Rahman’s music, we finally acquired the taste for it. The show was a masterpiece of satire, and a fine example of how to make people laugh without needing recorded laughter. The opposite of a modern-day Comedy Circus perhaps.

It became a routine. We set the series on recording on our DVR, and would anxiously await the weekly episode, which would be watched together, mostly over the weekend, as we caught up on the joys of recorded TV.

I watched the final episode of the show today, about 3 months after it aired. The Office IS OVER. GONE. There was a lump in my throat as I watched the episode. Seeing the wacky cast of characters get their closure was an emotional moment, like a chapter of my life coming to an end.

There have been so many fond memories.

There was Michael Scott, the utterly idiotic yet absolutely lovable boss. The man whose crazy ideas would put Diggy Singh to shame, yet who would often show that his heart was in the right place. There was Pam, the cute receptionist engaged to Roy, but whom Jim the cute sales guy also fancied. We were elated when she finally broke up with Roy, because it gave Jim a chance.

Jim and Dwight. Like chalk and cheese. Jim, the charmer. Dwight, the crude farmer. Both fighting each other, trying to put each other down, but mostly good sports about it. Their interactions over the years were one of the highlights of the show. Jim was the ultimate prankster. Dwight, the absurd ambitious professional for whom emotions are a mere annoyance, as are girls (The dude’s a sexist who wouldn’t be able to survive a day on Twitter). I still remember that episode where he tried to walk over burning coals to get a promotion, in one of Michael’s crazy ideas, only to fall flat down and burn himself up badly.

We caught up on the backlog of the initial seasons, thanks to DVDs from the neighborhood BlockBuster store. Weekends were Office marathons where we would go through episode after episode of the series over breakfast and lunch, in that cozy Upper East Side apartment of ours.

Michael Scott became god. Jim became my favorite TV actor. We watched in delight as he and Pam got married aboard the Maid of the Mist at the Niagara Falls.

Around that time, I started my blog. Over the years my writing style came to be called as subtle humor drier than Kevin’s bald scalp. Among the influences were The Office, 30 Rock and Jon Stewart.

Who would have thought that a boring office of a paper company in small-town Scranton would have so much going on? The adventures of Jim, Dwight, Pam, Michael and others became our adventures. We began to see our offices in a new light, trying to relate our co-workers to one of these wonderful people.

We made a trip through Scranton (yes, it is a real city), sqealing in delight as we saw signs on the I-81 with directions to the city. We returned to India and I brought along DVDs of the released seasons of The Office (and 30 Rock). Now, as any Indian will understand, buying a DVD is a pretty big deal for us. We don’t buy. We download. I guess this is love.

Our hearts cried when Michael moved off the show. The Office would be something else without the crazy boss. His wacky decisions and actions were the lifeline of the show. He was silly but kind, stupid but brave, irrational but sincere.

But it kept alive. The show must go on, and go on it did. In Andy, they managed another equally wacky boss with some crazy ideas and mannerisms. He kept it going. Brave on the exterior, but a child at heart. You felt bad for him when he was about to lose the family heirloom, that massive boat his dad never let him pilot. The next moment, he cancels the deal and is taking off in the same boat to the Bahamas, leaving girlfriend Erin behind. Idiot.

We felt bad to see Jim and Pam drift apart in this last season, but heaved a sigh of relief to see them get over their differences. They were just meant to be together.

We marveled at Jim’s ingenuity when he, as Dwight’s deputy, convinces Dwight that he needs a deputy to his deputy, and Dwight then realises that he is the best fit to be his own number two. In computer science terms, that’s a recursive deadlock, but not for Dwight, who is effectively his own assistant now. That’s genius alright.

As parents of toddlers would know, you can’t really watch a lot of TV. It’s either cartoons, or nothing. As someone balancing work and writing, it leaves even less time for TV for me. But I used to make an exception for only a handful of shows. Needless to say, you know which ones I refer to.

Today, as I watched the final episode, I found my eyes precipitating every now and then. We had spent the last few years with this cast, and to see them all figure out their lives and destinies, to see it all come to an end, was a bit like the last day of school or college, or that farewell I got when I left my first job.

Thanks for the laughs. You’ll be missed.

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