One of my favorite sitcoms is The Office. Whether I am doing homework (and need some type of background noise) or in the mood to watch something funny and entertaining The Office always fits the bill. What truly intrigues me about The Office is their central character Michael Scott, portrayed by Steve Carell. Michael Scott is the Regional Manager of the Scranton branch of Dunder Mifflin, a paper company.
Throughout the series Michael combines his personal life with work while consistently making inappropriate and ignorant comments to his employees. These comments greatly contribute to the show’s success, yet often rely on sexist, racial, or gender stereotypes in order to deliver comedy.
On a daily basis we watch Michael fail to change his missguided perspective without serious repercussions, which makes me think about the exploitation of stereotypes discussed in our class reading. “Plotting was generally based on the exploitation of character stereotypes (3). The Office manages to reinforce gender stereotypes and problematic class representations.
The show has lasted 8 seasons and gained several awards throughout its run, but I wonder if the way The Office was produced has allowed it to last longer and stand out from other sitcoms. An article titled “That’s What She Said”: Gender, Satire, and the American Workplace on the Sitcom The Office (found here on zsr database) discusses how these stereotypes undercut The Office’s transgressive potential. Jessica Birthisel and Jason Martin note, The Office’s unique mode of production, which does not include a laugh track but instead features “mockumentary” techniques, reduces the likelihood of misinterpretation of satire and enhances the show’s transgressive potential (65). I wonder if The Office gets away with offensive stereotypes and characterizations by using a different type of production style, which influences how the audience might react to certain jokes and situations within an episode. Birthisel and Martin later analyze and compare The Office to real-world offices while exploring how the show mixes satirical humor with representations of gender.
The Office is still one of my favorite shows to watch and I will continue to explore how this sitcom compares to the ones we will learn about in class and in our readings.