Thursday, September 10, 2009

Mostly about Michael from The Office

The Office is charming for so many reasons. From the first bars of the theme song (doo-weeeeeeee, doo-wee doo-wee doo, wee, do do doo-wee doo-wee…), I am hooked into a loop of feelings ranging from empathy to disgust for Michael, Pam, Dwight, Angela, and all the other Dunder Mifflin employees at the Scranton branch. Though I’ve only seen about a dozen episodes, I’ve gathered that Pam has passive and sweet and ambitious sides of her; Michael is relentlessly hopeful even as he digs his own grave; Jim can be a jerky bro but has rivers of feelings within him; and Dwight is just trying to find a place where he is honored for the particular things he contributes to the world. This is also why I find Dwight’s friendship with Rolf so sweet. They understand and affirm each other in a way that other people can’t for them.

Here aboard Delta flight 70 I just watched the episode about the company picnic, when Michael and his ex Holly put on a skit about the origin of Dunder Mifflin. (This is the most recent episode I’ve seen.) At the end of the day, Michael tells the camera that he and Holly are just one of those couples with a long story: someday they’ll end up together, but the path to that destiny will include times when each person is dating someone else. But Michael is willing to wait, he tells us, and he glows happy, he glows content, probably feeling the deepest connection to another person that he’s ever felt. And in the background, we see Holly walking away holding hands with her new boyfriend. They have plans to build a house together. One can’t help but feel for Michael, especially because the “SlumDunder Mifflinaire” skit he and Holly put on was such a DISASTER.

I pick up on messages about propriety from The Office. Holly’s utmost responsibility to Michael is respect and awareness of his feelings for her. Lying on her side provocatively maybe signifies meanings for Michael that she doesn’t want to imply. Michael’s optimism about a future with Holly is either thoroughly out of touch or the producers have something up their sleeves.

Another lesson from The Office is that each person lives in their own world. One time when I was talking with a friend about peoples’ varying realities, we came to a site of dissonance (which nicely illustrated this larger point of the discussion): I saw it as each person having their own truth or multiple truths while she saw it as each person telling lies. Jim’s almost backstabbyness appeals to the watcher of the documentary because he and the viewer are on the same side; they laugh at the people who work in the office, the people for whom the office is their entire life and meaning. But one man’s office parody is another’s daily hell, just as one man’s dream of a relationship is another’s nightmare.

No comments:

Post a Comment