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To Binge or Not To Binge Episode 15: “The Office” Season 9

Bobble heads of The Office characters
Bobble heads of “The Office” characters

“The Office” is a comedy about one of the quirkiest work environments on television. Originally created by Ricky Gervais (who also wrote and starred in “The Invention of Lying” and “David Brent”) and Stephen Merchant, the show was later adapted for American television by Greg Daniels.

The U.S. version of “The Office” is a nine-season mockumentary about the personal and professional lives and relationships of the employees of the Scranton, Pennsylvania branch of Dunder Mifflin, a paper company.

Previous Seasons Recap

WARNING: This section contains spoilers for “The Office.”

Season one begins with an introduction to Dunder Mifflin and the original staff. This season is about establishing the tone of the office and the initial relationships between characters. Some of the best jokes are pranks Jim Halpert (John Krasinski) plays on Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson), but the season overall focuses on Michael Scott (Steve Carell), the regional manager.

The focus shifts in season two to romance. We see the most of Jim and Pam Beesly’s (Jenna Fisher) relationship, but Michael Scott and Jan Levinson (Melora Hardin) and Dwight and Angela Martin (Angela Kinsley) start to develop something more than a professional relationship. The end of season two is really where emotionally things start to pick up.

In the third season, we see more relationship tension between Jim and Pam. Jim moves to another branch in order to get over his feelings for Pam and finds a new girlfriend. However, the other branch closes down and tensions run high between the three at the Scranton branch.

The fourth season starts off moderately happily, before staff changes are made and Michael quits to create his own — successful — company with Pam and Ryan.

After Michael, Pam and Ryan’s company is bought out by Dunder Mifflin, Ryan tries to modernize Dunder Mifflin with a website. This seems to work at first, but later fails completely. This season centers mostly around his rise to power and then his loss of power. Michael and Jan end their relationship, while Dwight’s and Angela’s becomes strained after Dwight kills Angela’s cat.

Then Erin Hannon (Ellie Kemper) and Andy Bernard (Ed Helms) start trying to figure out their relationship and Jim and Pam get married and have a baby.

In season six Dunder Mifflin is bought out by Sabre, Pam’s friend gets with Dwight (which was really weird) and Gabe Lewis (Zach Woods) is introduced to the series.

Season seven is an emotional roller coaster. Gabe and Erin get together and break up while Michael hires his nephew as an assistant and later physically reprimands him and must endure a six-hour counseling session. By the end of the season, Dwight is the acting office manager and everyone hates it.

The eighth season is the only season that Michael Scott doesn’t appear in, which leaves the show feeling unfinished or like it’s missing something. Andy becomes the new regional manager and later gets fired. David Wallace (Andy Buckley) buys Dunder Mifflin back and hires Andy back as the regional manager.

Each season explores and develops the personal and professional lives and relationships of each employee, creating a myriad of complex and interesting characters, though they aren’t always the most realistic. Eventually, the audience gets attached to at least one character in the series as a result of amazing characterization.

To Binge or Not to Binge?

WARNING: Mild spoilers ahead.

“The Office” really started losing steam in season eight and the ratings showed it. Season nine is the last season, and all questions were supposed to be answered. This season was meant to be a wrap up of all the other seasons, characters’ story arcs and explain some of the big mysteries established throughout other seasons. It created some interesting twists and turns, but there some really disappointing answers to our questions. Unfortunately, this season didn’t resonate well emotionally and I watched it mostly because it promised answers about the Scranton Strangler — who fans think was Toby Flenderson (Paul Lieberstein)  or even Jim — and that the Dunder Mifflin employees were finally going to see the documentary about themselves.

The fan theories surrounding “The Office” were really compelling about certain aspects and plot holes. Like if Creed Bratton (Creed Bratton) really is a man named William Charles Schneider who killed the real Creed Bratton after he (the real Creed) stole from him (William) and began using his (Creed’s) name. Fans also wondered how Dunder Mifflin was so successful — the theory says Dunder Mifflin managed to stay afloat during a recession and the move to more digital forms of media because the producers and crew of the documentary realized how successful the shenanigans they were filming was going to be, so they kept buying paper and investing in Dunder Mifflin to keep the employees around. I have to say this makes a lot of sense, but so do a lot of other theories. People dedicate a lot of time to explaining plot holes many of us gloss over.

Anyway, season nine. This season started off with Clark (Clark Duke) and Pete (Jake Lacy) getting hired and making Dwight and Jim feel threatened, which was somewhat realistic. However, the two were interns at a company that — while being unnaturally successful for the time — wasn’t going to expand much further than it already had. The rest of the season details the ups and downs of settling down in many of the characters’ relationships. Roy Anderson (David Denman) gets married, Jim and Pam start to question whether or not there are any secrets in their relationship, Angela finds out her husband is gay and having an affair with Oscar (Oscar Nunez) and Dwight and Angela get married. While some of these events were actually funny, like Dwight setting up the office in a bus after Jim convinces him the building has a radiation leak, the rest fall flat or seem like they’re trying too hard.

[/media-credit] “The Office” television show

Though less funny than other seasons, season nine was worth watching because it did answer everything we were promised it would answer. We learn who the Scranton Strangler is, though fan theories don’t agree, and we got a definitive end to all of the “Will they get together or won’t they?” relationships in the series. It was also really satisfying to see Angela and Dwight get married because I spent all eight seasons rooting for them. They’re just weird and intense enough that they work well together. Seeing the people behind the documentary was also really interesting, because they’re characters that exist and we know they’re there, but we don’t learn anything about them in any of the other seasons.

Another great thing about the season was the consistency. Characters didn’t change drastically and the show was filmed through a single person’s perspective, like a documentary really would have been. It’s obvious it’s meant to mimic reality television and it was a creative take on a place most people would assume to have little to no personality. It was easy to get attached to specific characters, and in the end root for the company as it was. Michael Scott definitely should not have left, though.

Best Episode: “Work Bus” and “Dwight Christmas” were the best episodes of season nine. There are too many seasons to recount all of “The Office’s” greatest hits, though.

Similar Shows: For more like “The Office,” check out “The Office (UK).”  NBC also did a whole bunch of different online spin-off miniseries such as “The Accountants,” “The Outburst,” “Blackmail” and “The Mentor.”

Trigger Warnings: Over the course of all nine seasons, there is some drinking pictured in and outside of Dunder Mifflin, behavior not appropriate for an office, sexual innuendos and references to sexual harassment in the workplace.

Rating: Overall: 4 of 5 stars.

Season 9:  “The Office” Available to stream on Netflix

201 episodes, 20 minutes each: approximately 4 days, 3 hours, and 30 minutes


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