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Fans know plenty of cringey Michael Scott moments on The Office, but could the “A Benihana Christmas” storyline about him be written today? The Office Ladies podcast explored the episode in-depth and hosts Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey agreed that this one Michael moment probably wouldn’t be a reality on TV today.

Cast of 'The Office'
Cast of ‘The Office’ | Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank

‘The Office’ ‘A Benihana Christmas’ episode

On the August 5 episode of Office Ladies, Fischer and Kinsey discussed the season 3 “A Benihana Christmas’ episode, which includes the storyline of Michael getting dumped by his girlfriend Carol. Andy attempts to cheer him up by taking him to Benihana for lunch and they’re joined by Dwight and Jim for the outing.

Michael and Andy flirt with the waitresses at the restaurant and bring two younger waitresses back to the office, where two competing Christmas parties are happening.

1 big question about the episode is explained

During the podcast, the hosts discussed one of the biggest fan questions about the waitresses that Michael and Andy bring back to the office. They’re different than the women who they were flirting with initially.

“Why do the actresses playing the Benihana waitresses change when Michael and Andy bring them back to the office. Is that supposed to feed into the ongoing joke that Michael and Andy can’t tell them apart?,” Fischer said that fans asked.

“So, no,” Fischer explained. “The idea here was simply that Michael and Andy couldn’t land the original waitresses that they’d been flirting with all night and then they manage to get these two younger, kind of more naïve waitresses to come back with them to the office.”

She continued, “So the idea was that these two older, sophisticated women would never go back to a party, but these two younger gals, college-age gals, would be like, ‘oh yeah, free drinks, we’ll go…’ they’re more up for it.”

The cringey Michael Scott moment

In the episode, Michael introduces the Dunder Mifflin employees to his girlfriend — the only problem is, he can’t tell the two waitresses apart! When Roy and Kevin ask Michael which woman is his girlfriend, he says “it’s one of those two,” adding, “Yeah, well. It’s been hard, they’re wearing the exact same uniform. And I’ve been drinking. And you know how all waitresses look alike.”

Fischer explained that Michael “needs to figure out which woman is his girlfriend so he goes into the kitchen and he does this whole elaborate bit, where he’s like, ‘Where’s my girlfriend?’”

She added, “It’s such this awkward moment.” When the woman says “Michael, you know where I am. I’m right here,” he hugs her — and then marks her arm with a pen so that he can identify the right woman.


This Episode of ‘The Office’ Was So Cringey, NBC’s HR Used Clips in Their Training Videos to Show How Not to Behave

Would the storyline be on TV today?

The moment, the podcast hosts admitted, is super cringey and one that they don’t think would be written today. “Angela, this moment really made me cringe,” Fischer shared.

“Yeah, it made me cringe too,” Kinsey said. “I just don’t think this storyline would have been written today.”

Fischer agreed, saying, “I don’t think so either.”

Earlier in the podcast, writer Jenn Celotta was asked about the Michael moment. “Even though we’re saying, ‘Michael you should know better, what you’re doing is wrong,’ is it even right to put that storyline out there?,” Fischer asked.

“I feel conflicted about… there was this like Archie Bunker/Michael Scott/David Brent thing that we would make a joke that this is clearly inappropriate, but some of that stuff is just not appropriate even if it’s being made fun of and some is,” Celotta explained.

She added, “We’re constantly growing and have to understand, even if our intention was to do something to show how ridiculous this behavior is at the time, how does that portrayal come across and is that affecting people?”