“I am running away from my responsibilities, and it feels so good,” said every college student binge-watching "The Office" at home this weekend.
Ricky Gervais, creator of the award-winning mockumentary, struck a chord with everyone suffering from the mundane tasks of everyday life. As simple and vapid as the show may appear, "The Office" offers a comical silver lining to workplace drama, allaying the viewer's own work-induced stress or fatigue.
This show was revolutionary. It was one of the first shows in popular culture designed to reveal the flaws of behind the scene drama. The ubiquitous smoothness of sitcoms had been pushed aside. In lieu of refined writing, this show took advantage of awkward and crude humor, making "The Office" a paragon of taboo comedy.
I fell in love with this show the summer before my first year of college. My friends begged me to watch more than three-minute clips of Kevin dropping chili, and I eventually caved. For most people, the very first episode is a drag, but once you watch “Diversity Day,” true fanatics are hooked.
Many people argue that the antics of the show’s characters reflect an unreal work environment, which may be true for seasons eight and nine. However, the world is full of optimistic Michaels, watchful Dwights, cynical Angelas and brooding Stanleys. We all know a songbird like Andy and lovers like Jim and Pam.
The sitcom’s dry, awkward humor creates an air of familiarity for many viewers. I think of the awkward times in middle school when a silly classmate would rambunctiously sing to themselves while another glowered at them from across the room; the teacher sitting nonchalantly in the back of the classroom while two students flirted in the corner and another ate cupcakes.
"The Office" is not equivalent to middle school guffaws, as it took me many years to comprehend the humor. Instead, it focuses on the seemingly insignificant moments that pass us by. It gives us a few minutes of laughter in the most uncomfortable times, reassuring us that there is hilarity even in the darkest moments.
Many students are stuck at home, in a dorm or some place in between. This pandemic took the world by storm, leaving most of us in shock. It’s easy to succumb to the uncertainty of current conditions, but there is always a guaranteed silver lining.
For me, the purpose of "The Office" is made clear during tragic times like the present. Life is ephemeral and dynamic. Most importantly, it is uncontrollable; no one knows what the future holds. However, one thing that keeps us afloat is politically incorrect comedy. What may annoy you initially may be the very thing to give you a few minutes of joy.
Kevin Malone, my favorite character, said, “I work hard all day. I like knowing that there’s going to be a break. Most days I just sit and wait for the break.” I could not have said it better. That is what "The Office" is—a break. It’s a break from the stressful paperwork and anxiety-ridden meetings. It’s a break from the seriousness that bogs us down.
In times of crisis, I think everyone should take a break. Whether or not you’re a fan of the award-winning sitcom is not as important as finding some way to rest your nerves. I know it’s scary, but there’s always a silver lining. Take it easy. Just remember, Pretzel Day will come again.
Erin Stephens is a 19-year-old journalism sophomore from Brusly, Louisiana.