Skip to main content

When it comes to a show that’s as hilarious as The Office, there are plenty of episodes in the running for fan-favorite. Thanks to a brilliant ensemble cast, many of whom had a strong background in improv, there are many different types of comedy for viewers to enjoy. Whether you love the slapstick humor that “The Injury” provides or the sheer pandemonium of the cold open of “Stress Relief”, there’s something for all fans of The Office to appreciate.

The Office Cast season 3 episode 3
Oscar Nunez, Brian Baumgartner, Leslie David Baker, Ed Helms, Steve Carell, Mindy Kaling, Phyllis Smith, Creed Bratton, and Angela Kinsey |Photo by Justin Lubin/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

However, one episode that always stands out to cast, crew, and fans alike is none other than “Dinner Party.” The beloved episode comes near the middle of season four and is filled to the brim with dark humor and uncomfortable situations. Though the episode was initially hated by many fans, it has now easily become one of the most-watched episodes from the entire nine seasons of the series.

The famous ‘Dinner Party’ episode of ‘The Office’

Even though fans of The Office didn’t initially enjoy “Dinner Party” the writers instantly knew that they were on to something. The first indicator that the writers had dreamed up something special was when they had a conversation with NBC (the network through which the show was broadcast) about the script. Meetings between network executives, writers, and showrunners are normal and offer a chance for the network to provide commentary and feedback on the show’s story.

Typically, each episode that was presented received a healthy amount of feedback from the network. There were almost always notes about things that the network wanted writers to flush out, remove, or further justify. But, this was not the case for “Dinner Party.” In fact, Lee Eisenberg, who co-wrote the episode, remembers the phone call that Greg Daniels (one of the show’s creators) had with the network. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Eisenberg revealed that the NBC executives only had one thing to say.

The network had no notes for the writers

“So the writers got called in to the office to hear the notes. Greg gets on the phone and the executives are on the other line, on speakerphone. Only the writers have read the scripts so far and this is, you know, before the table read, and they get on the phone, and they go, ‘This script is really, really dark.’ And Greg said, ‘Yeah.’ And there’s a pause and they said, ‘It’s really dark.’ And Greg said, ‘Yeah. It is.’ And they go, ‘It’s really dark.’ And he goes, ‘Yup.’ And then he goes, ‘OK, anything else, guys?’ And they said, ‘Uh . . . nope.’ They hung up and that was it. They didn’t offer any other notes,” The Office writer recalled.

The Office's Melora Hardin in character as Jan Levinson
Melora Hardin | Chris Haston/NBCU Photo Bank

The second indicator that The Office writers got that this particular episode was special came when they were conducting their table read for the episode. A table read is when the actors of a TV show or film sit around a table and read the script aloud in character. When the cast began reading “Dinner Party”, slowly but surely even began to erupt with laughter.

‘The Office’ cast thought the script was hilarious

“It started off very slow. 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” Gene Stupnitsky, the other co-writer of The Office episode shared.

‘The Office’: This Cast Member ‘Never’ Broke Character by Laughing; ‘He Was Unbreakable’

The only episode with no rewrites

In fact, the “Dinner Party” episode was so good and so funny that it was the only one that didn’t get rewritten. “Most scripts get rewritten, and I think this was the only one ever done that didn’t. The only thing that was changed was that in our first draft Jan hits the neighbor’s dog and kills it on purpose,” Stupnitsky revealed. It’s clear that, years later, no notes or rewrites were needed for “Dinner Party.” It remains perfectly hilarious even years after its original air date.