‘The Office’ Fan Theory: The Cast Makes Growing up Less Scary

The Office hasn’t aired a new episode since May 16, 2013. And yet viewers continue to stream billions of minutes of the comedy series. Through his two podcasts, Brian Baumgartner seeks to understand what makes The Office so appealing to younger generations. One fan poses an interesting theory that has to do with the fears and insecurities of growing up.  

Steve Carell as Michael Scott and Rainn Wilson as Dwight K. Schrute in 'The Office' Season 1
Steve Carell & Rainn Wilson | Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank

‘The Office’ cast and crew talk about the comfort the show brings

Baumgartner hosts two Office podcasts: An Oral History of The Office and The Office Deep Dive. His goal with An Oral History of The Office was to pull back the curtain on the “unstoppable force” the show has become with new audiences. Meanwhile, The Office Deep Dive features the extended versions of his conversations with the cast and crew.

While the stars of The Office have their own theories about the show’s popularity, the overarching theme is the comfort it brings viewers. “There’s something happening right now where everybody is so fragmented and so divided,” editor Jen Celotta tells Baumgartner in an episode of An Oral History of The Office. “It sounds crazy, but there is a comfort [in watching The Office] that is like, ‘I know these people! They’re like me, [and] I’m safe here.'” 

‘The Office’ makes being a grownup and working full-time seem less intimidating

Baumgartner did a “Mailbag” episode on The Office Deep Dive where he answered fan-submitted questions. One fan reached out to The Office actor to point out an interesting theory regarding the show’s popularity, especially among children. 

“My wife has a theory on why young people love The Office,” the fan tweeted. “It helps them feel less intimidated about being working adults. Just because you are a ‘professional’ doesn’t mean you have it all figured out.” 

In other words, The Office provides viewers with the sense that growing up isn’t all that bad. Having to mature and enter the work force might seem overwhelming, but The Office presents the idea that life can still be fun and full of whimsy — especially if you’re lucky enough to have a boss like Steve Carell’s Michael Scott.

‘The Office’ characters form an unlikely family that kids identify with

As Rainn Wilson pointed out in the same episode of An Oral History of The Office mentioned previously, The Office is also appealing to young people because it’s about “unlikely families.” 

“[The Office cast] is the most unlikely family and you love to be with that family,” Wilson explains. “There is something really soothing about showing up, hearing that theme song, you’re in that office with these characters that you love.” 

RELATED: ‘The Office’: Jim and Pam Were Supposed to Have This Heartbreaking Ending but 1 Thing Prevented It

And as the fan’s submission points out, kids “recognize personalities from school in the show.” From the quirky kid that aligns with Wilson’s Dwight or Carell’s Michael Scott to the cool kid they might identify as John Krasinski’s Jim Halpert, the familiarity in these characters appeals to a younger generation. 

‘The Office’ episodes bring comfort to adults, too 

Of course, there are those fans of the show who have watched from the beginning. For them, re-watching episodes of The Office can be as cathartic as they are reassuring. 

“I am so honored to be part of something that brings comfort to people,” Jenna Fischer admits in the Oral History of The Office episode. “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’ve had a bad day, you’re experiencing a loss, or you simply need a laugh, rewatching episode of The Office make fans of all ages feel content.