Working at Dunder Mifflin for a month

Unknown-1.jpegBy Alexa DiFilippo

Last year, I had a lot of time on my hands and wanted to find a way to occupy myself in between classes and right before going to bed. After complaining about all of this time (which I wish I had now), my friend looked at me and said, “why don’t you start a series?” I was not opposed to that and decided she was right, I was going to start a show… but which one? My friends had always been watching shows even binge watching television series since high school. Even my own mother was binge watching while she cooked dinner! However, I never did. I felt like everyone was binge watching shows besides me so, I gave into peer pressure and started to scroll through Netflix and see what jumped out to me. Although everyone told me to start shows, such as; “Friday Night Lights, “Scandal” or “Breaking Bad” (all classics) I knew I wanted to watch something different, something no one else would be watching, something edgy and new. So, I decided to watch “The Office” (how original of me). BEST. DECISION. I. HAVE. EVER. MADE. I watched the entire series in a month. Don’t judge me, I told you, I had a lot of time on my hands last year.

“The Office” is a mockumentary that follows the lives of employees at Dunder Mifflin, a paper company in Scranton, Pennsylvania. “The Office” makes light of a not so great boss and some difficult workers that most people will encounter in their lifetime as they start to work with people in the scary and dreaded “real world.” As I was watching all the seasons, I began to develop a fake relationship with each character. I thought as though I worked at Dunder Mimages.jpegifflin and these characters were my colleagues. Pam would be my friend who I would gossip with when no one was around, Jim would be my crush (obviously I have a heart and eyes), I’d get my nails done with Phyllis, I would be too afraid of Stanley, ignore Kelly and Ryan, show Angela and Oscar pictures of my two cats, eat with Kevin, drink with Meredith, laugh “with” Dwight, hate Toby and keep a safe distance from Creed. However, there was one person that I know I would have a love-hate relationship with my boss, Michael Scott.

Unknown.jpegWhat can I say about Michael Scott. He not only is oblivious to everyone around him (and himself), but he is also immature and irresponsible; honestly he is so cringe worthy I could not watch some parts of the show. Michael Scott is what you would call a complex character, not that he is hard to understand but the fact that I know so much about him just from the series. In the book, “How to Watch Television” and more specifically, “House: Narrative Complexity” by Amanda D. Lotz, Lotz states the following, “Yet in recent decades, even some episodically structured series have indicated the possibility for complex character development, and as Roberta Pearson outlines, mundane plot action can serve this end. In her case study of CSI’s Gil Grissom, Pearson presents a six-part taxonomy of elements that construct the character: psychological traits/habitual behaviors; physical traits/appearance; speech patterns; interactions with other characters; environment (the place the character inhabits); and biography (characters backstory)” (Lotz, page 23). So, where do I start to construct Michael Scott?

Michael Scott’s six-part taxonomy starts like this, first, his psychological traits and habitual behaviors. Well first, a psychological trait is that he has a huge imagination. For example, his alter ego Michael Scarn and the eventual “Threat Level Midnight” film he created! A habitual behavior he has is him always stating “that’s what she said” after sentences that were not weird or awkward but in his mind they are and then he makes it known to everyone. Scott’s physical traits and appearance actually stays pretty consistent throughout the show. He tends to wear a dark suit and his hair is always dark and cut short. Michael Scott is very clean cut almost preppy with his attire which is the complete opposite of his childish personality. Michael Scott’s speech patterns are usually all over the place. He is either very energetic or screaming and declaring bankruptcy. He isn’t the brightest bulb but he is definitely the craziest one. Thinking about Michael Scott’s  “interactions with other characters” just makes me laugh. When I think about all of his relationships with other characters, I realize that right there is the entire show. His interactions with them and each other are what makes “The Office” legendary. Michael Scott’s interaction with the other characters can be summed up in just one simple term, awkward. However, all of the awkward relationships Michael has with his employees are different. Michael is scared of her but likes  Jan, but ultimately finding his match with Holly Flax, tries to be cool like Jim, yells at Phyllis for honestly nothing and ignores Dwight (who is basically Michael’s shadow). His distaste for Toby and love for Ryan displays where Michael Scott’s head is most time. Now on to environment, Michael lives in a house but most of the show is set in the actual Dunder Mifflin office. Now, here is the interesting part, Michael Scott’s backstory. He comes from a broken home and often mentions his mother but not really any brothers or sisters. We later find out he has a half sister (he hires his nephew for a little) but that is about it. A part of the show I remember most from learning about Scott’s backstory is his loneliness as a child. This stuck out to me the most because I too was a lonely child. His loneliness as a child is the reason why he goes out of his way for all of his employees. At the end of the day, he just wants to make everyone laugh and be friends with all of the Dunder Mifflin workers. He does not want them to dislike him and though most of the workers want to scream and rip their hair out of their scalps one by one but they all love him, especially Dwight.

Unfortunately, the show has been over for a few years now. But anytime I am bored or upset or just need a good laugh, I know I can watch an episode of “The Office” and feel better. This show is dynamic, exciting, entertaining and is hilarious all thanks to the unique characters.I became friends with my so called colleagues because of my want to binge watch a series. If I hadn’t succumbed to peer pressure I would not have met these characters. As a result, I  try to find the same or similar relationships with other characters in other shows, but nothing compares to the relationship I have made with the workers at Dunder Mifflin. Though the show is fake and some of the scenarios that occur (like Dwight and Michael driving into a lake while using GPS) seem unrealistic. But there are  real life moments that make me, the viewer, love the show even more. Pam and Jim’s love story brings me to tears all the time (though towards the later seasons that storyline got a little drawn out) and even Angela and Dwight’s relationship is so weird but amazing at the same time. Everyone knows a couple like Kelly and Ryan, sadly. Everyone meets a Toby. No one wants to meet a Dwight.  Unknown-1.jpeg

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4 thoughts on “Working at Dunder Mifflin for a month

  1. I really enjoyed reading this blog mostly because I can relate to it. I recently watched the show “Friday Night Lights” and felt as though I had the same experience as you did watching “The Office”. While watching “Friday Night Lights” I felt as though I was a part of the culture in Dillion, Texas and with the Dillion Panthers football team. With each episode I felt like I knew each character personally. I think the binging aspect helped with that like you mentioned in your blog. I thought when you said, “I thought as though I worked at Dunder Mimages.jpegifflin and these characters were my colleagues”, because I almost felt I was on that Dillion Panthers football team. I enjoyed reading this blog just mainly because I could relate to it in different ways as you did with “The Office”.

    – Mathew Galvao

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    1. Hi Alexa! I thought your blog was very interesting. My favorite part about it, which showed your enthusiasm for the show was when you explained what kind of relationship you had with each of the characters. “Jim would be my crush (obviously I have a heart and eyes), I’d get my nails done with Phyllis, I would be too afraid of Stanley”…I loved how you were able to connect with them on such a personal level-something I always personally strive to do in the shows that I watch as well. I also have binge watched The Office, and have to say I completely agree with the entire analysis of your characters, and how the relationships between all of them is what makes the show as legendary as it is. Whenever I need a good laugh, I throw on The Office and can engulf myself in their office. The show is humorous but still has that aspect of “real” that we have discussed in class. Another thing I really liked that you pointed out was how Michael Scott grew up as a lonely kid, and you were able to connect with that on a personal level as well. I think it is important to watch shows that connect with you, because it makes you feel as though there are other people like you. (even if it is television) Great job Alexa!!

      -Kelly Hartlage

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  2. I enjoyed this blog post a lot. I like how you included how you related to every character, but then how Michael Scott related to the characters as well. The two sides helped to really understand Michael Scott and the Office. The in-depth analysis you did of him was really interesting as well, and I would be able to really imagine him if I hadn’t see the show before. Lastly, I enjoyed the 6 parts that you took and split up to describe Scott. It was another way to really personalize his character and help understand the show more.

    -Zack Lander

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  3. This blog was definitely very entertaining to read and I loved that about it. I wanted to real it because I love “The Office” and I also wrote my blog on it. I think the way you approached this was creative. Now that the idea is in my head, I feel the same way about the characters. I think the relationships you created with them have a lot to do with the mockumentary form that the show has and how relatable that makes the characters.

    I am so glad that you referred to some of the things Michael does as “cringe worthy” because I agree. I thought this of him more towards the beginning of the show and have come to laugh at all of his jokes now. I thought it was very interesting how you examined his character.

    -Alison Tobin

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