‘The Office’: A Breakdown of Why ‘Dinner Party’ is Considered the Greatest Episode Ever
The Office is a faux reality show meant to explore the hilarious hijinks of work life at Dunder Mifflin in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Most of the episodes occur in a workplace setting. That’s what makes it so surprising that the funniest episode of all isn’t in the office — it’s at the home of Michael Scott (Steve Carrell).
What makes “Dinner Party so popular among fans? There are so many reasons.
‘Dinner Party’ is a cringe-worthy event like no other
The Office is a show that thrived on making their audience feel uncomfortable. Some of the most awkward moments were also the funniest — plus the most relatable. Many fans had a boss just like Michael Scott at some point in their career.
But not everyone has the opportunity to attend a very strange dinner party at their boss’s house. In “Dinner Party,” Michael invites a few colleagues over so he can show off how amazing his life is, though of course, the event winds up having the opposite effect.
Jim Halpert (John Krasinski) and Pam Beesly (Jenna Fischer), and Andy Bernard (Ed Helms) and Angela Martin (Angela Kinsey) are all invited while Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson) crashes the party. Michael’s girlfriend Jan Levinson (Melora Hardin), a former Dunder Mifflin employee, is also there.
The ill-fated dinner party ends with a visit from the police
During the course of the episode, Michael tries to get Jim and Andy to invest in Jan’s candle-making business for “only $10,000.” Jim and Pam pretend their apartment flooded to escape the awkwardness, but the excuse doesn’t work. Jan confronts Pam in the kitchen believing she once slept with Michael.
Though Michael Scott hosts the dinner party to show off, ultimately he embarrasses himself in front of colleagues. Michael and Jan are fighting the entire time which culminates when two police officers show up. The party ends with Michael and Dwight leaving together.
Even the actors found ‘Dinner Party’ hilarious
The timing of “Dinner Party” was perfect. It was the first original episode released after an extended writer’s strike, and the cast of The Office was eager to get back to work. Many of the most memorable moments were improv, making them feel more natural — plus a lot funnier.
Episode writers Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky recall how they weren’t sure about the script at first until Carrell burst out laughing.
“It started off very slow,” Stupnitsky said of the first table reading. “Not a lot of laughs. Little by little, it just starts building, and I never experienced that before. The laughs kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger. I remember I was just sweating through my T-shirt. It was the greatest feeling I’ve ever had.”
“There’s nothing more satisfying than having Steve Carell barely able to get through his lines,” Eisenberg echoed.
Jenna Fischer could barely keep it together while filming
It wasn’t just the table read making the actors laugh. As Fischer told Rolling Stone, it was also difficult to hold it together during the scene where Michael and Jan reveal their sleeping arrangements.
“Every time he went to explain that that’s where he slept, the way he delivered that was so funny, and then he would, like, curl up… We couldn’t get through it,” she said. “The biggest one was when he’s showing us his flatscreen television. And it’s so tiny. We laughed so hard, like, tears were streaming down our faces.”
No wonder fans are so obsessed with “Dinner Party.” Even more than a decade after the original air date, no one can stop laughing about it.