The Office is undoubtedly one of America’s most loved shows. However, our beloved mockumentary did not get its start in the U.S.–it was based off of the U.K. version also called The Office. I have seen every episodes of both shows and have noticed a few things that make each show unique and different from the other.
David Brent, the Regional Manager of The Office U.K. does not openly create sympathy for himself, nor is he proactive in his goals throughout the series. His character does not follow the typical character paradigm, and is the main attraction of the show. So why do we like him? Personally, I love how everything he does is cringeworthy–so much so that I actually did start to feel a little sympathetic towards him. He wants the love and admiration of his coworkers so badly and is deluded in believing he has it most of the time. However, David is not nearly as lovable as Michael, the manager from the U.S. version. Michael starts off in Season 1 much like how David acts through both series–a little slimy, pompous, no self-awareness and deluded about life in general. However, producers must have realized this as they made Michael a more good natured and compassionate character.
Another difference I’ve noted is the dialogue and character development. The U.K. version has punchier dialogue (I think) and delivers the jokes in a more reformed and subtle fashion, whereas the U.S. version is a bit more slapstick and relies heavily on the facial expressions and actions of the characters. The supporting characters vary drastically in both shows as well. Keeping in mind that the U.K. version only ran for two series (or seasons), it makes sense that they wouldn’t delve deeply into the lives of the supporting characters, but I think that is one of the draws of the U.S. version. Throughout the entire series, we fall in love with Kevin, Angela, Creed, Oscar, etc. etc. and gain a fair bit of insight into their lives. We don’t get this with the U.K. version, which I think is unfortunate.
When watching both of the pilots for the shows, you can tell the U.S. show was modeled very closely after the U.K. show. I am thankful that the character of Michael changed a bit, otherwise The Office as we know and love it might have been a flop after a season or two.