“I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good ol’ days before you’ve actually left them.” ~Andy Bernard
And thusly, not with a guffaw but a sniffle, “The Office” ended.
The emotions came freely for me, which was both expected and unexpected. Cheesy as it is to say, this innovative sitcom with a heart was always more than a show to me. So in a sense, it very much felt as if a chapter is closing not only in television, but in my life.
Along the course of its nine-year run, some elements of the plotline so closely mirrored situations that were simultaneously occurring in my personal life that they become a source of both pain and humor. “The Office” always provided a degree of relatability for old coworkers, as well as a point of common ground in establishing relationships at new jobs. Dunder-Mifflin Infinity offered an easy way to burn hours at dead-end jobs, and some arcs even informed ideas at more-inspiring opportunities.
Like life itself, “The Office” offered painful goodbyes and bittersweet relationships, monumental life changes and career adjustments, loves and heartaches, laughter and tears, dreams and misses—sometimes all in the same episode.
I think we all saw some small -- or large -- piece of ourselves in every character. In Michael’s desire to keep fighting against the tide, Jim’s ability to find humor in somber situations, Pam’s unwillingness to give up on her dreams, Dwight’s fight to spread his worldview, Angela’s hope to hide from the world, Kevin’s inability to accept how others view him, Oscar’s search for normalcy in an unstable environment, Stanley’s pursuit of just making it by, Phyllis’s pull to mother everyone, Meredith’s wish to drink her way through the day, Darrell’s constant chase of what comes next, Ryan’s lessons learned from unchecked ambition, Kelly’s insufferable enslavement at the hands of pop culture, Toby’s struggles to fit in and express himself, Todd Packer’s complete and utter Todd Packer-ness, Erin’s fight to put a happy face on everything, Andy’s need for affirmation, and Creed’s ... well, I don’t think any of us saw anything of ourselves in Creed. At least, I hope not.
That’s a long way of seeing that, for the self-aware set, there was always something to learn from “The Office.” Maybe it was a lesson about office behavior. Perhaps it was a moral about interpersonal relationships. Or an instruction on an unwillingness to settle or an acknowledgment of dreams or the courage to share your heart. And maybe, just maybe, it was an openness to be taught to fly.
So much more than a sitcom and so much less than perfect, “The Office” was a celebration of the mundane and a plea to embrace the area of our lives where we spend most of our time. An urge to find the comedy inside the drudgery, the laughter inside the enigma, the pearl inside an oyster made of copy paper.
More than anything, this amazing series moved every one of your emotions, while making you laugh—long and hard.