‘The Office’ Isn’t About Dunder Mifflin’s Employees — Here’s What the Docuseries Actually Celebrates
The Office was an NBC series starring Steve Carell, John Krasinski, and Jenna Fischer. Throughout the show’s nine-season run, the docuseries followed the employees of Dunder Mifflin, a failing mid-size paper company. Ironically, the show wasn’t about a paper company at all. Office star Brian Baumgartner reveals what the comedy series was really about.
‘The Office’ is beloved by fans young and old
Nearly 15 years after the series premiered, millions of people continue to stream The Office. For fans old and new, streaming episodes of The Office is kind of like donning a security blanket.
“There’s something happening right now where everybody is so fragmented and so divided,” editor Jen Celotta explained on Baumgartner’s podcast 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.’”
For much of the cast, being part of a series that soothes people means the world.
“I am so honored to be part of something that brings comfort to people,” Fischer said during that same 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.”
But for many, watching The Office is about so much more than finding comfort. It’s about the deeper meanings woven into the narrative of the show.
‘The Office’ celebrates the ‘beauty in ordinary things’
As much of The Office cast pointed out throughout Baumgartner’s 12-episode podcast, Greg Daniels believed the show was about finding “beauty in ordinary things.” Daniels drove that point home throughout the series. He even included it as a line in the final scene of the show.
Ed Helms best explained how Daniels articulated that meaning throughout the show’s run.
“What all of us feel and what the fans feel is that Dunder Mifflin is kind of aggressively mundane,” Helms began. “But when you look closely and you get in the hearts of these people, it’s enormously complex and beautiful and familiar all at once.”
As Baumgartner pointed out, the idea of celebrating the “aggressively mundane” isn’t popular on many television shows, making it another favorable aspect amongst fans of The Office.
‘The Office’ is about hopes and dreams of all sizes
Going with the theme of celebrating the “aggressively mundane,” director and producer Paul Feig explained how fans could find people filled with hopes and dreams anywhere if they would only take the time look around.
“Interesting stories [and] crazy types” can be found almost anywhere, in Feig’s opinion. It’s all about looking for them.
Another appealing aspect of The Office is that it’s a show that portrays the American dream “in a way that makes you not feel bad about your life,” according to Feig. The validation of dreams big and small keeps audiences coming back for more.
‘The Office’ highlights how special ‘unlikely families’ are
Yet another reason fans turn to The Office time and again is because of the timeless theme of family.
“I think the reason The Office has lasted the way it has is because all great television is [about] unlikely families,” Rainn Wilson said.
“[The Office] is the most unlikely family and you love to be with that family. There is something really soothing about showing up, hearing that theme song, you’re in that office with these characters that you love.”
The Office tells the story of Dunder Mifflin’s employees. But the series also serves as a mirror for fans to celebrate the things that make them human — the beauty found in all ordinary things.