‘The Office’: Fans Still Divided Over 1 Major Character
It couldn’t have been easy casting a new character in NBC’s The Office. The long-running comedy that changed the way offices are viewed for all eternity was an iteration of its British counterpart. The characters from the original [mostly] transferred to the American version. However, some say that every new character threw off the cast’s natural balance — unless they succeeded in blending in. All these years later, there’s still one character from The Office fans either defend or have outcast.
Casting for ‘The Office’ was difficult
Looking back, the cast of The Office seemed effortless. The show had an interesting take on faux-reality-show filming, a diverse list of factors and actresses, and a blueprint to pull from in terms of what worked and what didn’t via the British version.
Still, showrunners found casting difficult. Rolling Stone writer, Andy Green, wrote an entire book on the making of the hit NBC sitcom, The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s.
The show, which originated in England, came from the minds of co-creators Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant.
“They say that drama is real life with the boring parts taken out,” Gervais said via NY Daily News. “I was obsessed with the boring bits…I was obsessed with the minutiae of an excruciating social faux pas.”
By 2005, American talent agent, Ben Silverman, caught an episode and decided to bring it to the states. He sold the series to NBC shortly after Friends and Frasier ended.
“In British TV, there’s that long tradition of the fairly unlikeable protagonist,” Merchant explained.
Creators had a pretty sizable wishlist for who they wanted to cast. Those considered for the role of Michale Scott include Paul Giamatti, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Louis CK, Bob Odenkirk, and Steve Carell for the role of Michael Scott.
Seth Rogen, Patton Oswalt, and Rainn Wilson auditioned for the role of Dwight. Names like Steve Zahn and Paul Rudd came up for the role of Jim.
Eventually, they found the perfect stars to fill the roles. Then, by season 7, Carell left, leaving a big space to fill.
Fans still divided over this character
It’s no surprise that Robert California (James Spader) is among the most-talked-about characters in the history of The Office. What is surprising is the degree to which fans love or hate the character.
Throughout all season of The Office, many big names have come and gone via cameos or multiple-episode stints. Spader’s Robert California came in after Carell left. His character talked the former CEO, Jo Bennett (Kathy Bates) of Dunder Mifflin-Sabre into giving him her job.
California was mysterious, arrogant, and intellectual superior — a complete opposite of Michael Scott. Perhaps this is exactly why fans loved or hated him. Part of the reason, according to Silverman, had more to do with Spader.
“Spader is a good guy, and he’s smart, but we needed brilliant comedians, and James Spader isn’t funny,” Silverman said.
His polarizing disposition forced viewers to either stick with a preference of Carell’s managerial execution, or hop on board Robert’s methods.
“Robert California is the best character in tv history,” one fan tweeted.
Another said, “Robert California was the worst thing to ever happen to the office, send tweet.”
“OK it has to be said… Robert California is one of THE best characters in The Office and you cannot change my mind. It’s made up. And it’s true,” another added.
And finally, “I still can’t believe out of everyone they picked Robert California to be the new manager of Dunder Mifflin,” this viewer stated.
The back-and-forth goes on and on, proving Spader’s one-season performance did what it was supposed to: shake things up in light of Carell’s absence.
Another character gave California a run for his money, according to fans
While Robert California’s personality is a “love him or hate him” feel, fans take issue with another recurring character — Gabe Lewis (Zach Woods). Gabe first appeared as Jo Bennett’s personal representative and VP of Northeastern sales.
Gabe’s soft-spoken, oftentimes creepy conversations sparked just as much controversy among The Office fans. In fact, Gabe is more often a part of “worst characters on The Office” lists then Robert California.
“Who is the worst character on The Office and why is it Gabe?” one fan said.
“Gabe is the most annoying office character. I hate that guy,” another added.
Just as there are Reddit threads discussing why some fans don’t like Robert California, other threads discuss why Gabe isn’t well-received. What’s true for both is that the main cast is so beloved, fans don’t appreciate it when any part of it is disrupted. Still, one thing remains true above all else: No one is less liked than Toby (Paul Lieberstein), thanks to Michael Scott.