‘The Office’: Steve Carell Says Filming This Iconic Episode Was a ‘Thorn in His Side’

“The Dundies” episode of The Office is beloved by many fans. But for The Office cast and the Chili’s brand, the episode raises some contention. Find out why Steve Carell says filming this episode was a “thorn in his side.” 

Steve Carell as Michael Scott and Rainn Wilson as Dwight Schrute in 'The Dundies' episode of 'The Office'
Steve Carell & Rainn Wilson | Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank

‘The Office’ episode ‘The Dundies’ features the restaurant Chili’s 

“The Dundies” is the first episode of The Office Season 2. As one of the biggest nights of the year (at least for Michael Scott), the Dundies take place at the local Chili’s. 

As Oscar Martinez (Oscar Nuñez) so lovingly points out, the Dundies are like a “kid’s birthday party, where there’s nothing for you to do, but the kid’s having a good time.”

Most of Michael’s jokes fall flat, and Dwight (Rainn Wilson) does a terrible job at DJing, but Office fans don’t mind. That’s because Jim (John Krasinski) and Pam (Jenna Fischer) share an awkward kiss in this episode. Pam accidentally gets drunk by consuming “second drinks” — the remnants of her first drink once the ice melts. 

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Only when she falls off of a bar stool while filming a talking head with Jim does she get escorted from the Chili’s. The restaurant staff makes a copy of her identification to prevent her from patronizing Chili’s in the future. 

Steve Carell disliked working products and brands into ‘The Office’  

Brian Baumgartner hosts two Office podcasts wherein he interviews his former cast and crew about their time on the show. In speaking with Carell, Baumgartner learned something interesting about “The Dundies” episode. 

“Do you remember the product integration stuff that we had to go through?” Carell asks Baumgartner during their talk on The Office Deep Dive. From a Staples paper shredder to hosting events at Chilis, The Office cast had to find unique ways to work product placements into early episodes of the show. And that didn’t sit well with Carell. 

“That was a thorn in my side,” Carell adds, recalling an executive coming in and telling the cast about their desire to partner with certain brands for “budgetary reasons.” Carell says that was one of the only times he spoke out against doing something on The Office.

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“I [was] very much against this because it changes the show,” he explains. “If we are serving a corporate master there’s no way the show will be the same. I was dead set against it.” 

Office fans might remember the few times the show worked specific products or brands in. “Each time, they were disasters,” Carell believes.

Chili’s didn’t want Pam to be drunk in ‘The Office’ episode 

Ironically, when producer Greg Daniels agreed to work with Chili’s on a placement in the show, the brand wasn’t pleased with how they would be featured. Since Pam gets drunk in the season 2 episode, Chili’s didn’t want to be associated with that image. 

“We were three days into the shoot and [at risk of] losing the whole episode,” Carell explains. As Baumgartner remembers it, Carell defended the narrative in the episode and found the “yes and” moment to make it work. 

Despite Chili’s desires, the cast went through with Pam being drunk anyway. The brand appeared in a later episode of season 2, “The Client,” in a more positive light.