I enjoy the moral superiority I feel when telling people I don't have a TV, so much so that I often forget how many TV shows I watch on Hulu. But I am a total snob about what shows I view, which makes me feel intellectual despite the added complication of inhaling excess debris through my upturned nostrils. It was because of this superciliousness that I refused to watch the "American Office." I had been so enthralled by the British version I was sure that nothing could compare to the brilliance of Ricky Gervais, and would not expose myself to anything less. It wasn't until I was 9-months pregnant and eager to ingest at least 8-hours of passive entertainment a day that I discovered the American Office, and realized how truly epic it is.
The style of filming, subtle humor, awkward situations, and bizarre plot lines were addictive, and I watched every season like a devotee. I was truly impressed by the innovation of The Office and no longer bothered comparing it to its British motherland prototype. So when I heard that Michael Scott (Steve Carell) was leaving the show I went into a panic wondering how the enterprise would be able to sustain itself without him, and then had an anxiety attack that I cared.
Not only has The Office transitioned into the post Michael Scott era with grace, but I am relishing the complexity of the other characters and story lines. Without the insanity of Michael's antics to fall back on, the intricacy of each episode's plot is dare I say superior? Rather then getting sucked into a black hole of loss after being deprived of the sun that was Steve Carell, the other actors instead now have space to shine and show how dynamic they are within this new universe.
Where I had gotten moderately bored with Jim's character (John Krasinski) and his perfect marriage to Pam (Jenna Fischer) that never exhibited any flaws, I now find his new dynamic with Dwight (Rainn Wilson) to be hysterical. No longer is their relationship simplified into annoying pranks and backhanded insults, but they are exploring a depth to their loyalty that is much more compelling. Their friendship has become three-dimensional and, because of the tension created throughout the years, their interactions are that much more believable and amusing. Of course Dwight (Wilson) has always been a scene-stealer, but with more time to devote to his character he has become less annoying and more human. You find yourself rooting for Dwight and feeling more connected to the emotionality of his story.
Another character that has penetrated her shell is the receptionist Erin (Ellie Kemper). Her quirky ways and peculiar statements have always been appealing, but this season she has become a more relatable and entertaining character. Her physical humor is understated yet outstanding, and some of the things that come out of her mouth are so funny I have to change my underwear. Not to mention Ryan's character (B.J. Novak), who has always been exceptional, but the more screen time he gets is a bonus. The commentary on new media hipster culture played out by his business ideas, personality, and relationship with Kelly (Mindy Kaling) are so accurate and outrageous it leaves you questioning your own validity and having an existential crisis while tweeting and Facebooking.
The story line of the Sabre Store launching their brand and the new pyramid tablet is truly next level comedy. Every time I see their pyramid shaped version of the iPad that will have wifi capabilities in 2013, or the triangle shape front pack for storage, I lose consciousness from laughing. It is a really provocative commentary without being overt. Getting the team out of the office and into a real world situation has translated into some uproarious scenarios that have breathed some fresh air into the content.
Michael Scott was the character who made The Office for the majority of its time on the air, but the writers and other actors of the show are making it now. I am sure that without Steve Carell it never would reached the status and popularity it has now, but I can say that the show is hardly suffering from his loss. The writing has maintained its wit and humor, and perhaps has become more creative in the midst of the pressure, and the other actors should be commended for not only filling the gap left behind, but overflowing it.