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

Here’s a little known TV fact: clips from one episode of The Office were used in NBC’s HR training videos. Yes, the “Sexual Harassment” episode provided plenty of examples about what not to do in an office setting. The Office co-stars Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey shed some new light on the episode that rates high on cringe factor.

the office sexual harassment
‘The Office’ cast: Rainn Wilson as Dwight Shrute, Jenna Fischer as Pam Beesly, Steve Carell as Michael Scott, John Krasinski as Jim Halpert, and B.J. Novak as Ryan Howard | Justin Lubin/NBCU Photo Bank

A “Sexual Harassment” fact that’s almost unbelievable

During the Dec. 11 Office Ladies podcast, Fischer and Kinsey discussed The Office Season 2, Episode 2, “Sexual Harassment,” written by BJ Novak.

Kinsey shared that, “years later [after this episode aired], we would have our own seminars that NBC would have us attend… and they would use clips from this episode of what not to do at work.”

Fischer added: “and other episodes,” which they both found amusing.

The “Sexual Harassment” episode originally aired with a warning about the adult content and subject matter. “You know why?,” Fischer asked, noting, “It all came down to the word ‘boner,’” and a scene with Phyllis where Michael Scott mentioned the word. According to Fisher, the network wanted to change it to “schwing.”

Writer BJ Novak fought to keep the word in the episode, and the warning was the network’s compromise. One station in Kentucky did refuse to air the “Sexual Harassment” episode, however.

This was the first time viewers met Michael’s inappropriate friend Todd Packer, played by David Koechner, who came into the office while the Scranton folks had a refresher on the company’s sexual harassment policy.

How cringey was the episode?

The “Sexual Harassment” episode is among the cringiest of the series’ run and even the stars admitted it was hard to watch.

Fischer shared, “In rewatching this episode, Angela, I was very uncomfortable. I was more squirmy during this than ‘Diversity Day.’ I think that I had forgotten how really cringey and uncomfortable the show can get sometimes. How did this show get on air?”

Dave Koechner brought Packer to life

The Office co-stars agreed that Koechner really was the perfect fit for the role, as Fischer noted: “Todd Packer comes in the office and boy does Dave Koechner own a room.”

Koechner had originally auditioned for the role of Michael Scott, with Kinsey sharing that when Koechner came into read for the part, he was so obsessed with the original BBC version of the show and couldn’t stop impersonating Ricky Gervais. He was brought back to audition for Todd Packer.

Kinsey had spoken with Koechner prior to the podcast and shared some of his thoughts about Packer and Michael’s relationship. Kinsey noted: “[Dave] said something I thought was so sweet and just insightful into Michael. He said, ‘Oh Angela, Michael is so innocent and naive, he’s almost childlike. He doesn’t get a lot of what Todd Packer is and he’s like a little brother looking up to someone. Maybe somewhere down the road he’ll see how inappropriate [he is].”

Sometimes it’s hard for fans to separate the character from the actor and Fisher and Kinsey assured listeners that the actor who played Packer wasn’t anything like his revolting character.

Koechner told Kinsey: “Ange, please let everyone know I’m nothing like Todd Packer in real life.”

Fischer added, “It’s true, everyone. Dave is such a sweet, sweet, sweetheart. He’s a father of five. It’s gotta be hard to believe that he is not like Todd Packer for some people, but if you met him he is just the warmest, kindest gentleman.”