Welcome to Scranton
Alrighty, so we all know this is one of the most popular (and maybe one of the most groundbreaking) comedy shows in recent American history.
But this is just a shameless clickbait list so we’re not gonna get into any heavy analysis of why that is or how it affected the television shows and movies that followed its debut in 2005.
Instead, let’s do some light analysis of how novel and compelling the format was at the time, nearly 15 years ago.
Oh yeah, and if you want to see our picks for funny scenes from The Office, just go ahead and scroll down until you see the first clip.
The concept of mokumentary was supposedly invented by the famous Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini. We’re big fans of his here at GL but we don’t have much time to linger on his importance to the history of movies here.
Anyway, the mokumentary format really only found mainstream success with the 1984 comedy classic This is Spinal Tap. This movie is a great example of what the fake documentary structure is great at doing.
It’s great at providing a platform from which talented writers, directors, and actors can comment on contemporary trends in just about anything.
This is Spinal Tap satirizes the era of hair metal and the apparent trend of entertainment and culture becoming increasingly simplistic, unintelligent, and on-the-nose with its messaging.
So what is The Office satirizing? Well, first and foremost: the American workplace.
Watching those first few episodes of the series was a surreal experience. These people felt like real people. The office felt like a real office.
And most importantly, Michael Scott was an exaggerated version of a kind of person that we’ve all met, and maybe worked for.
The Office did reality television right, and none of it was real. Or at least that’s how it felt for the first three seasons.
But let’s not mourn the sad decline of a truly great show; let’s look back on some of our favorite moments with our friends from the Scranton branch.
This is the one. This is the scene to show someone who says they’re not interested in watching The Office.
This is also maybe the moment when the U.S. version of The Office jumped the shark. How could anything be funnier than this?
This is peak Dwight, peak Oscar, peak cat who sleeps in Angela’s file cabinet drawer (I forget that one’s name).
Just watch it. Let yourself feel joy in your life. It’s even ok to feel nostalgic. Don’t worry, I won’t tell anybody.
Oh, My Life
This is one of those moments that cuts to the core of who Michael Scott is as a person. He’s both embarrassing and completely worthy of sympathy.
In a ploy to get attention and respect from the stereotypically masculine warehouse employees, Michael plans to jump off the roof of a small office building onto a bouncy castle.
In the process, he accidentally commits a hate crime.
Bears, Beets, Battlestar Galactica
There are a few cold open from The Office that have grown stale with time, as the result of thousands upon thousands of rewatches on Netflix.
But this one holds up.
Jim impersonates Dwight to a T and Dwight can’t handle it. Most importantly, it’s a hint that the show’s writers still had some modicum of self-awareness at this point in this series, a quality they seem to have dropped completely after season 5.
How Much Pot Did You Smoke?
Dwight appoints himself the head of an anti-drug investigation, despite knowing nothing about drugs other than what he’s seen in movies.
This is one of those truly great sequences of The Office, where each character is strongly written and behaves appropriately.
The Dinner Party
Ok, so is this one of the best episodes of television ever made? Maybe. I definitely remember it much more clearly than any specific episode of Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, or The Good Place.
The basic setup is that a whole bunch of characters are stuck in a single location, and it tears them apart.
This is the premise of an arthouse horror movie (namely, The Exterminating Angel), not a comedy.
But it works. Somehow, it works. And no one can take that away from us. Unless Netflix pulls the series from the site. No one’s gonna buy the DVDs.
Here it is, a season 1 classic. At this point in the show, Michael Scott was one of very few characters that had actually been fleshed out.
Luckily, Steve Carell is so unbelievably talented that he carries the show along on his shoulders with ease.
Is anyone still surprised that the show tanked after he left? No? Didn’t think so.
Alright, here’s another one of those scenes where each character keeps within their own boundaries.
Meaning, Kelly acts like Kelly, Ryan acts like a pretentious &^%$, and even Toby gets a hand on the ball.
It’s also a comedic run that doesn’t rely on wacky, outlandish circumstances. It stays centered on an extremely relatable conversation.
Your Dentist’s Name is Crentist?
This is still a bit of a secret among Hollywood producers, but Rainn Wilson is actually a talented actor.
And while you might disagree, I think this scene is some of the best work he’s ever done (other than Super).
Ryan’s Precious Technology
There are times when the show’s jokes get a little too outlandish, and stop feeling believable in the process.
Michael driving his rental car into a lake because of a GPS is one of them.
Luckily, it’s still fun to watch and can even be considered believable if you squint your brain and think real hard.
I’ve gotta go catch a train, but if you’re looking for some other stuff to watch that feels just as comfy and snuggly as The Office, then you should probably check out our article on what to watch when anxious.