‘The Office’: Brian Baumgartner Reveals Why People Still Love the Show 15 Years Later

Brian Baumgartner played accountant Kevin Malone on The Office. This year, he started a podcast, An Oral History of The Office to understand why people love the show so muchNow, after 12 episodes, he finally has the answer. 

Brian Baumgartner as Kevin Malone
Brian Baumgartner in ‘The Office’ | Byron Cohen/NBC/NBU Photo Bank

‘An Oral History of The Office’ is a trip back in time for ‘Office’ fans

Each episode of Baumgartner’s podcast dissects why The Office remains a popular show with new generations.

Throughout his journey, Baumgartner reconnected with his former cast, directors, producers, writers, editors, and camera crew to talk about their role in making  The Office a compelling show.

Watching ‘The Office’ is comfortable for a lot of people 

Considering the climate of today’s world — we’re in the middle of a global pandemic — things can get stressful pretty quickly. 

“There’s something happening right now where everybody is so fragmented and so divided,” editor Jen Salata explained. “It sounds crazy, but there is comfort [in watching The Office] that is like, ‘I know these people! They’re like me, [and] I’m safe here.'” 

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For many people, The Office serves as a retreat from the chaos Salata was talking about. Craig Robinson, who played Darryl Philbin on the show, talked about having fans come up to him and thank him for being there in their darkest moments. 

“I am so honored to be part of something that brings comfort to people,” Jenna Fischer admitted. 

“You turn it on and you know where everyone’s going to be,” Angela Kinsey added. “Those people become like your extended family, and you’re just sort of checking in with them.” 

Whether you watch The Office because you’ve had a bad day, you’re experiencing some type of loss, or you simply need a laugh, the employees of Dunder Mifflin are always accessible.  

People love ‘The Office’ because it’s about real people

The Office celebrates the “aggressively mundane,” as Baumgartner described it. That’s what makes the show so beloved. 

“Every one of [the places you pass in everyday life] is filled with people who have hopes and dreams,” director Paul Feig explained. “[The Office] is the American dream portrayed in a way that makes you not feel bad about your life.” 

For Rainn Wilson, “The Office has lasted the way it has is because all great television is [about] unlikely families.” The employees of Dunder Mifflin are, as Wilson described, “the most unlikely family.” 

“You love to be with that family,” he continued. “There is something really soothing about showing up, hearing that theme song, you’re in that office with these characters that you love.”  That familiarity coupled with the stories of “aggressively mundane” people are what viewers love about The Office.

‘The Office’ will remain a mainstay because of the passion that went into creating it

In the final episode of his podcast, “Beauty in Ordinary Things,” Baumgartner described how every element — from the way the show was put together to the way it was cast — helped make The Office so transcendent.

“[People love The Office because] it mixed subversive, cringey humor with sincerity,” Baumgartner added. “[For some,] it’s about the love story. And, to me, it’s also because of something intangible. The fact that the people who made this show really, really loved making it.”