It’s been ten years since The Office aired its finale, but thanks to syndication and streaming, the show continues to entertain old and new fans every day. If syndicated re-runs are your preferred way of watching The Office, however, then you’re missing out on some key episodes. Namely, the controversial Season 1 episode ‘Diversity Day.’
According to Collider, The Office‘s second-ever episode was pulled from syndication by Comedy Central in 2021 in a preemptive attempt to avoid any outrage that might be generated when viewing the 2005 episode through 2020’s sensibilities. Like with many pieces of popular media that suddenly disappear from syndication or streaming, there was no actual outcry over “Diversity Day”, just the potential for one.
The Office’s Season 1 Episode 2 “Diversity Day” is banned from syndication.
When The Office began, there was an effort to make Michael Scott a modern-day version of Archie Bunker. The showrunners would have him say outrageously offensive and culturally insensitive things with the hope that viewers would understand that the character was on the wrong side of history.
The audience isn’t meant to laugh with Season 1 Michael, but rather laugh at him and his cringey takes on cultural issues. Nowhere is this more evident than in the episode “Diversity Day.”
Still, it’s hard to agree with Comedy Central—the channel that airs South Park, in case anyone forgot—and their decision to pull the episode from syndication.
The ‘Diversity Day’ episode of The Office revolves around a diversity coach coming into the Dunder Mifflin offices to speak to the staff about how to celebrate diversity. Michael begins the episode by offending several employees with a Chris Rock routine full of *ahem* words that people who look like Michael aren’t allowed to say.
From there, he continues to make things awkward and downright hostile in the office by saying things like, “Why don’t we go around, and everybody, say a race that you are attracted to, sexually?
Much like the gang from It’s Always Sunny in Philidelphia early Michael Scott is meant to be a horrible person. What keeps ‘Diversity Day’ from becoming truly offensive is the knowledge that Michael doesn’t speak for anyone with half a brain.
Unlike the degenerates on Always Sunny, though, Steve Carell couldn’t help but make The Office‘s Michael Scott kind of likable. Because Michael comes off as a genuinely naive and ignorant Goofus—especially in later seasons—instead of a hateful bigot, it makes episodes like ‘Diversity Day’ somewhat hard to watch.
Michael begins the episode by offending several employees with a Chris Rock routine full of *ahem* words that people who look like Michael aren’t allowed to say.
Still, it’s hard to agree with Comedy Central—the channel that airs South Park, in case anyone forgot—and their decision to pull the episode from syndication. Pretending that media that ages poorly never existed isn’t the best way to preserve history or make sure it doesn’t get repeated.
Despite their recent follies, Max did a good thing when the streamer decided to retain their full library of Looney Tunes cartoons and just put warnings in front of the ones that now come off as culturally insensitive.
It’s much better to call attention to the casual racism and sexism, homophobia, and transphobia of the past and say, “Look at this junk, can you believe this used to be considered funny?” than to burry it and pretend that as a culture we’ve never made any missteps.
Luckily, fans of The Office are still able to stream “Diversity Day” and all of the other episodes on Peacock. That way, viewers can watch and decide for themselves whether the episode should exist or not. Now, if Comedy Central wants to cut out all the episodes with Robert California, that’s another story.