NBC’s widely popular mockumentary series The Office ran from 2005 to 2013 and then later saw a resurgence in fandom, arguably larger than its initial fanbase when it landed on streaming services some years later. Its satirical slapstick-esque comedic style was inspired by Ricky Jervais’ brashly comedic BBC show of the same name. Steve Carell’s character, Michael Scott, was characterized by his inappropriate, racially biased, stereotypical, and sometimes outwardly ignorant behavior. Michael Scott was part of the reason why the show’s satirical structure worked so well. It was funny, but at the same time, it landed with a distinct social commentary about relevant social issues. However, according to Newsweek, in the wake of the ever-expanding cancel culture movement, Comedy Central has decided to remove one of The Office’s episodes from their streaming platform altogether.
The episode of The Office that was removed had initially aired as the second episode of the show’s very first season. Titled “Diversity Day”, it depicts a day at the office where Michael Scott’s inappropriate delivery of a Chris Rock comedy sketch prompts the company to host a seminar on the importance of tolerance in the workplace. In retaliation to Dunder Mifflin’s reaction, Scott takes matters into his own hands and instead holds a racially inappropriate seminar of his own. During his seminar, he assigns everyone who attended a different race which ultimately results in Scott imitating an Asian-Indian accent and offending his employee Kelly Kapoor (Mindy Kaling).
The style of The Office is hyperbolic in nature, and it is clear that the illustrative delivery of the plot was effectively using the show’s unique satirical style to highlight a very real problem that, unfortunately, still continues to permeate through offices across the country. The publication Do You Remember pointed out that the fact that the episode was intending to highlight a problem by bringing it into the vernacular of the public in a satirical way begs the question as to whether or not Comedy Central had the right to remove the episode in the first place instead of giving their viewers the chance to choose whether or not they found it appropriate to watch. Essentially, it alludes to the dilemma of whether or not cancel culture, in its intent to be inclusive and cognizant of what is socially wrong and unacceptable, is, in fact, crossing a line that chokes its populous with intense censorship.
Whether or not one agrees with cancel culture or not, it has taken a significant stronghold in society. The removal of The Office episode comes just after Mike Richards was canceled entirely from Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune for his overtly inappropriate past behaviors. By contrast, some celebrities like Miley Cyrus have taken a stance against cancel culture, suggesting that instead of ignoring the problem by attempting to erase something, that individuals should instead be trying to have conversations with each other regarding their differing perspectives. Outright cancellation arguably inspires divisiveness where a conversation is much more likely to inspire collaboration and inclusion.