‘The Office’: This Cringey Moment in the ‘Dinner Party’ Episode Was Inspired by a Sad Real-Life Situation

How many cringe-worthy moments are there in The Office “Dinner Party” episode? The list is long, for sure — and one of the scenes that tops the list as one of the cringiest moments in the episode involves Michael Scott’s sleeping arrangement. Jan gets the bed and Michael curls up on a bench, a detail that was actually inspired by a real-life situation.

John Krasinski as Jim Halpert, Jenna Fischer as Pam Beesly, Rainn Wilson as Dwight Schrute sit together at a dinner table on 'The Office' Dinner Party
John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer on ‘The Office’ | Chris Haston/NBCU Photo Bank

‘The Office’ ‘Dinner Party’ episode is a classic

During the Mar. 17 episode of the Office Ladies podcast, hosts Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey discussed the season 4 “Dinner Party” episode in great detail. They fondly recalled filming the episode and had plenty of behind-the-scenes goodies to share with fans.

In the episode, Jan and Michael have some of the Dunder Mifflin gang over for a dinner party but the situation quickly becomes uncomfortable. It begins with Jim and Pam’s tour of Michael and Jan’s condo, where they’re shown around and given a glimpse into their bedroom situation.

In addition to seeing a video camera pointed at the bed, Jim and Pam find out that Michael sleeps on a bench rather than in bed with Jan.

Pam remarks, “What a cute bench” and Michael explains, “Thanks, that’s my bed. Jan has, uh, some space issues so I curl up on that puppy.”

When Jim points out how small the bench is, Michael assures him that it’s fine, saying, “It’s actually a lot bigger than it seems” as he curls up.

Jan says, “See? He fits perfectly.”

The bench came from a real-life situation

Fischer explained how filming that moment with Steve Carell was hard to get through. “I can’t even tell you how hard we laughed every time Steve Carell curled up on that bench,” she shared.

The bit about the bench was actually inspired by a real-life situation, strange as that may be. The episode’s director, Paul Feig, explained how he saw something similar in a co-worker’s home.

“So the whole thing with Michael and Jan and that weird bench that he sleeps on the end of the bed came from when I was working as a script reader in the early ’80s for a big Hollywood producer,” Feig explained. “And I befriended this woman who worked in this company. And at one point we were hanging out and we went by her house to pick something up.”

When he saw her bedroom, he noticed a king sized bed and next to it, “this little tiny cot,” he said.

“And I remember saying, like, ‘Oh, what’s that?’” he recalled. “And she got very serious. And she said, like, ‘Look, when you get in a relationship, you have to make sure that you’re able to be intimate with somebody and share things with them.'”

Feig explained, “And what it turned out was that when, once they were done with their time together in bed, she had to roll off onto this cot and sleep by herself because this guy couldn’t handle having anybody else in his bed with him.”

“And I just thought that was the saddest thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” Feig added.

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‘The Office’ director knew the bench had to be in the episode

Feig said he knew that he wanted to incorporate the bench as part of Michael and Jan’s story.

“I remember when we were shooting it, it made me laugh so much because, you know, the way that Steve Carell would curl up on that bench,” the director shared.

“And my whole thing was like, OK, we got to hang on this as long as we can. And so, you know, we have Jan going like, oh, he fits perfectly,” Feig shared. “And then I just try to get every last frame out of everyone just staring at Michael on this bench and it’s silent and it’s just completely uncomfortable and it makes me laugh still to this day.”