The Office Discrepancy Could Mean Meredith Needed More Help Than We Realized

By Michileen Martin | Updated

the office

Sometimes I can’t turn off the nerd, and a perfect example of this is the only discrepancy in the beloved sitcom The Office that still bothers me. If you’re a fan, you no doubt remember when, in Season 5’s “Business Ethics,” Meredith (Kate Flannery) admits to sleeping with Hammermill rep Bruce Myers in return for supply discounts and Outback Steakhouse gift cards. Because of an earlier episode, perhaps the only way to accept her story about sampling the “fruit in those looms” is if Meredith’s faculties were more damaged than we realized by her years of substance abuse.

To recap: in The Office‘s “Business Ethics,” Holly (Amy Ryan) tries to give the Dunder Mifflin Scranton employees a simple review of the company’s ethics policy, but Michael (Steve Carell)–just like he would often do with her predecessor Toby (Paul Lieberstein), but for different reasons–takes over to make things more fun. Ignoring Holly’s objections, Michael gives everyone a chance to admit to anything unethical they’ve done and guarantees they will enjoy “complete immunity.”

Meredith’s confession that she’s been getting freaky “for the past six years” with Bruce for discounts and steak proves to be the big moment in the “immunity phase” of the seminar. It also creates a bit of a discrepancy.

Two seasons earlier, in “The Convention,” Michael is still angry over Jim’s (John Krasinski) transfer to Stamford when they are reunited at an office supply convention in Philadelphia. Already sensing that Jim’s new boss Josh (Charles Esten) is a threat, Michael does everything he can to outshine the Stamford manager in front of both Jim and Jan (Melora Hardin).

As usual on NBC’s The Office, at first Michael succeeds only in embarrassing himself, until his flop of a room party bears unexpected fruit. One of the only people to show up for the party, Evan (Matt Price) is a Hammermill rep.

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Michael first meets Evan, the Hammermill rep, in The Office

When Michael meets up with the rest of the Dunder Mifflin crew that night and tells them about his meeting, Josh says Hammermill is “exclusive with Staples,” suggesting Michael was wasting his time.

“Used to be,” Michael says. “Evan’ll call you in the morning to work out the details. We can now sell Hammermill products.” Jan is forced to admit she “underestimated” Michael.

When it comes to the timeline of The Offices, things were always relatively in step with real world time. “The Convention” came out in September 2006, and “Business Ethics” aired in October 2008.

On The Office, Meredith couldn’t have been sleeping with the Hammermill rep for discounts and steak gift cards for as long as she said she was. We explain the problem and pose possible explanations.

So how could Meredith have been banging supply discounts and steaks out of Hammermill “for the past six years,” when Dunder Mifflin had only been able to sell Hammermill products for the past two?

Whether it’s The Office, Star Trek, or Marvel Comics, I always try to be constructive when my nerd takes over. As such, I think there are two feasible explanations for what appears to be a discrepancy.

Option A: Meredith Is Just That Drunk

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If you’re a fan of The Office, then you’re well aware of Meredith’s penchant for excess. We’ve seen her sneak liquor into seemingly innocent drinks at work, hide the hard stuff in her car, set her hair on fire at office parties, and flash coworkers (both intentionally and otherwise). We’re never told if her years of substance abuse does any damage to her brain, but it’s certainly a possibility.

Not to mention that overall, even without the drinking, Meredith seems to have plenty of reasons to worry about her health. Along with being hit by Michael’s car, off screen The Office star has apparently been attacked by more animals than the entire cast of the Jurassic Park and Jurassic World franchises.

So it’s possible Meredith thought she was knockin’ boots with Bruce for six years, but it’s only been two. The excessive alcohol, rabies, etc. has potentially damaged her brain to the point where she doesn’t know the difference.

There are two problems with this theory. First, no one else in The Office corrects Meredith, and they aren’t all alcoholics. Second, we learn at the end of the series that Meredith was working on, and eventually acquired, her Ph.D. in school psychology off camera (which would seem pretty difficult if her brain wasn’t working correctly).

Option B: Bruce Is A Servant Of Many Masters

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The only other plausible explanation to fix this The Office discrepancy is simpler and probably more likely: during the events of “Business Ethics,” Bruce was a rep for Hammermill, but before the events of “The Convention,” he repped for a different supply company. At some point after “The Convention” but before “Business Ethics,” he left the previous company and took a position at Hammermill.

Because Bruce liked Meredith, and Meredith liked steaks, their arrangement carried over from one supply company to the next.

Meredith did not note this during her ethics seminar confession, but then again why would she? I have never publicly admitted to sleeping with someone for paper discounts and steak. But I imagine if I did, I wouldn’t then go through the entire work history of whoever I was making happy in the exchange.

Regardless of which option you choose as your head canon, this discrepancy in The Office should no longer intrude upon your enjoyment of the series. You’re welcome.