‘The Office’: This Jim and Pam Scene Caused a Debate Between Writers
For fans and writers alike, Jim Halpert (John Krasinski) and Pam Beesly (Jenna Fischer) are two of the most beloved characters on The Office. Writing for those roles was an honor, but sometimes the writers and showrunners were at odds when it came to filming certain scenes.
Find out which Jim and Pam scene from The Office sparked such a debate between writers and showrunners, they had to rely on a stranger to choose how the scene would go.
The writers and producers of ‘The Office’ often disagreed about Jim and Pam scenes
The season 2 finale of The Office, better known as “Casino Night,” was a big deal for the actors and the writers. After all, this was a huge moment — Jim was finally going to express his feelings and kiss Pam.
Greg Daniels remembers the writer’s room being a buzz with ideas for the episode.
“When Jim says he likes Pam in the parking lot, the writing staff kind of went nuts,” Daniels explained on Office actor Brian Baumgartner’s podcast, An Oral History of The Office.
After Steve Carell wrote the episode, there was much debate about how Jim and Pam’s first kiss should be shot.
“Ken [Kwapis] wanted to shoot it in a straightforward fashion,” Daniels said. On the other hand, the writers wanted to lean into the show’s mockumentary aspect and catch the kiss as it was ending.
The scene was shot both ways, but Kwapis won.
“It’s cool to do something as a documentary, but there’s something unsatisfying for [the audience] to not see a piece of this,” editor Dave Rogers said. “I think we made the right choice in letting them have a conversation.”
Jim Halpert’s proposal to Pam Beesly sparked another debate amongst writers
In the premiere of season 5, Jim proposed to Pam at a gas station.
“It was the most expensive shot we did in the show’s history,” director Paul Feig recalled. “We blew the entire budget for that season on that shot, which cost like half a million dollars.”
Rogers recalled building the set on a vast parking lot, then having 18-wheelers doing figure eights to make it look like they were passing the station as Jim bent down on one knee.
But it wasn’t the cost of the shot that was up for debate. Once again, it was the best way to capture an important moment between Jim and Pam.
The showrunners, writers, and actors were torn — should the audience be able to hear what Jim and Pam are saying, or only be able to see them?
Ultimately, a security guard on the set of ‘The Office’ decided Jim’s proposal should have sound
“There were people on both sides,” writer Jen Salata recalled. “It was about 50/50. It was the craziest discussion.”
According to Salata, the side who wanted to hear Jim’s words justified it by saying fans had been waiting forever for that moment. Why would you take that away from them?
The other side thought it was more beautiful and subtle without the words. For them, Jim bending down on one knee was enough.
Just as with “Casino Night,” Greg Daniels was left to decide how to finalize the scene. He couldn’t decide for himself, so he polled everyone he knew. His subjects’ opinions remained split down the middle until Daniels was forced to make a decision.
That’s when he had Salata seek out a neutral party — the security guard in their building. The man, who Salata said was “not an Office fan,” was the perfect outside voice to make such a decision.
He chose the second version of the scene — the one with sound. When Salata asked for his reasoning, he said: “Because I could hear it.”
Many Office fans are grateful for that security guard. Without him, Jim’s proposal to Pam could have looked — er, sounded — a lot different.