‘The Office’: Mindy Kaling Confessed Only Certain Characters Had ‘Permission’ to Do This
One of the best things about The Office is the bevy of characters that the show boasts. It’s great fun for viewers to see how over-the-top characters like Michael Scott and Dwight Schrute interact with more straight-laced characters like Stanley Hudson and Oscar Martinez. In fact, the dynamic created by having wildly different characters in close proximity with one another is part of the reason that the hit show is so funny.
Something that feels truly unique to The Office is the connection that the characters have towards the camera. Since the premise of the show is that the employees of Dunder Mifflin have been chosen for a documentary, the characters are able to address and interact with the cameras and the people behind them. In a way, the camera becomes something of a character in and of itself and the cast is constantly interacting with it.
Jim and Pam are constantly looking into the cameras
There’s not one episode of The Office where a character doesn’t break the fourth wall and look directly into camera. Jim and Pam are probably the two characters who do this the most, which makes sense because later on in the series fans discover that the pair have formed personal connections with the cameramen. However, Oscar and Stanley have moments where they’ll throw a droll look of disbelief into the camera also.
Contrastingly, it’s rare that characters like Kevin or Meredith will address the camera and there’s a clear reason for that. In a 2013 interview with NPR, Mindy Kaling (who wrote for and starred in The Office) revealed that only certain characters were allowed to address the camera with frequency.
Only certain characters in ‘The Office’ are allowed to address the camera frequently
“If you notice in the show, it’s only certain characters sort of have the permission to have that familiarity with the camera and the cameraman, and other characters who have less self-awareness do it less, and it works great,” The Office alum shared. “Like, for instance, Rainn Wilson, who plays Dwight, has – I think is a kind of character who less self-awareness, and he doesn’t do it as much as, say, John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer, who play Jim and Pam, the two, like, the love interests.”
Greg Daniels (who created the American version of The Office) quickly echoed Kaling’s sentiments and added that people like Jim and Pam were able to address the camera to express their disbelief when more outlandish people in the office were saying and doing ridiculous things.
Each member of ‘The Office’ has a different connection with the camera
“Yeah, it’s kind of saying: Does anyone else see how crazy this is? So you have to be kind of a reasonable character to get away with it, although when Michael Scott does it, it has a different flavor,” The Office creator confessed. “It’s usually uh-oh. I just blew it again, didn’t I? Oh, yes, I did, when he looks to the camera.”
It’s certainly an ingenious thought that the writers had to give some characters permission to address the camera in moments where they weren’t filming talking heads. It helps the audience relate to some of the more absurd plot points and allows distinction between the characters. We’re sure fans of The Office would be interested in learning about what other rules the writers put in place for their infamous characters.