There used to be a time where television was more important to me. Before the advent of DVRs and watching shows on the internet, I used to manually set a VCR to record about 10+ hours of “primetime” television a week while I toiled away at work, and then I would spend another 10+ hours watching everything before doing it all again ad nauseum.
It’s not the same as it once was. There are still plenty of great shows that I try to watch when they are TV the first time around, but for the most part, a lot of my “television” watching is done of time delay, watching the episodes or show when I have a few hours to kill at the end of the day or over a long weekend. Thanks to technology, this is possible, and it actually makes things a bit better.
There was one show that I still tried to watch on actual television, during its actual time slot, for most of the past 10 years, and that show was The Office. For some reason, I liked this show. Not its shaky, 6 episode opening season, or its hit-and-mostly-miss final two seasons, but the five seasons in the middle. That is the show that I wanted to watch. And that was the show that ended forever tonight.
It’s silly to get emotionally invested in a television sitcom. All the other “great” sitcoms of my generation just didn’t have the same feel that The Office did. I didn’t really start watching Seinfeld until it was years into syndication, and Friends was something I watched to enable conversations around school and work as a teenager. But The Office was different somehow.
Maybe it was because I was working full-time in jobs that felt tedious, with similar characters and foibles that those fictional employees at a fictional paper company in a town that seemed fake but I knew was real. It was real to me, and the relationships shared by the characters felt real to me as well, and I felt that I could connect on some level to all of them, even if some of Andy Bernard‘s antics were cringe-inducing and difficult to watch.
As the show spiraled down the drain toward its inevitable conclusion the past few years, I wondered how they were going to end it. As they started to introduce the “documentary” crew this year, I didn’t like the direction it was heading, but the last few weeks brought it all to where it should have gone all along. The heart of the show, and perhaps the reason why so many people watched it until the end, was the relationships between the people in the office, and what they meant to each other.
As the show came to an end tonight, and the writers and everyone involved brought closure to every character, I started to get genuinely sad. Not because I won’t see the actors in other things, or because it was telling a great story, but because I was going to miss the little stories coming out of Dunder Mifflin Paper Company.
I wasn’t expecting the emotions that I felt as the show wrapped up. I thought I would be able to get through the episode without any problem, especially since I didn’t feel as connected to the show over the past few years. But as they all gathered in the office for one last party, and each had their last “confessional,” it hit me pretty hard.
So long, Dunder Mifflin Scranton. I’ll miss you.
Until next time… (that’s what she said)