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Lisa Steinberg Headshot

Downsizing at the Office

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Every Thursday night in my house used to be known as The Office night and no one was allowed to call during that time. We'd all sit on the couch in front of the TV in order to watch Steve Carell and his merry band of misfits on The Office in order to shake off the stress and blues from the week.

The Office was must see TV in our household as our funny bones would be tickled, our cheeks would ache, and our stomachs would hurt from all of the laughter. Last season on the show, Steve Carell took his final bow as beloved character Michael Scott and the sun set on an incredible era of comedy for Thursday night TV.

Since Carell's send off from The Office the show has seemingly lost its sparkle. What once would have my family parked on the couch for a hilarious night full of laughs has since dwindled and faded. The chemistry that jolted from Carell to the cast has turned into the ghost of once was as the storylines and humor continue to spiral into an abysmal black hole.

Carell was able to play off of actors Rainn Wilson (Dwight) and John Krasinski (Jim) effortlessly. Now with him out of the picture and Ed Helms' character Andy Bernard steering the ship, The Office just might be going down like the Titanic. The show has also always been strong in side relationships such as Pam (Jenna Fischer) and Jim's, Dwight and Angela (Angela Kinsey), and even Jim and Dwight. Now that the side characters are front and center, instead of the show revolving around the boss of the Dunder Mifflin paper company, the show stories and characters don't have as much charm and precision as they did with Carell's Scott.

Even the addition of new CEO Robert California, played by the legendary James Spader, has contributed to The Office missing the mark. Taking on less of a leadership role, he does provide quirkiness like Michael Scott, but doesn't provide the connection or interaction like Scott's aloof and goofiness did. Spader comes off cold and off-putting as California who spends most of his time intimidating the employees rather than befriending them. Of course, every individual has their own unique way of managing employees, but isn't what we loved about Scott was his ability to be overly involved in his employees personal and work lives? Forever meddlesome and over stepping his boundaries with his employees was what made this employer/employee centric show the hysterical, and often times melodramatic, program that fans waited weekly to watch.

For many years another pull to The Office was the Jim and Pam relationship, the will they/won't they get together drama that went on. It seems the show is now trying to loop that same suspense with the Erin/Andy relationship. Yes, it is a similar game of ping-pong, but if these two are to be the new Jim and Pam, the writers really haven't given fans much to root for in terms of likability or draw for these two. The longing looks, playful banter, and sweet situations that endeared the Jim and Pam relationship to fans just isn't there for Andy and Erin (Ellile Kemper). Fans held on with bated breath for Jim and Pam to finally confess their love for one another, and for me, the same anticipation for Erin and Andy isn't keeping me locked in weekly. It would be remiss if I didn't mention the scandalous and salacious relationship between Angela and Dwight that was also a part of keeping fans transfixed to the show. Their ever evolving relationship provided moments of humor, heartache, and headaches that have been absent now that Angela has moved on to a new play toy.

When watching The Office you used to feel like a voyeur looking in on a small time paper company that could be anywhere in the world with employees that could be anyone in the world. You saw a boss that was over involved with his employees, but in a way that felt he wanted to be family more than coworkers. Sadly the feeling has all but vanished now that Steve Carell has said his goodbye to the show that was a fixture for my family's Thursday night TV lineup. With the rumored spinoff show for Rainn Wilson's character Dwight, the doors to Dunder Mifflin may be coming to a close sooner rather than later.