The Office’s Worst Crime Is Making You Love Its Characters

By Michileen Martin | Updated

the office

I love The Office (not the later seasons, I’m not an animal), but I have to admit that there is something about the show that bothers me. Starting with Season 2 of the sitcom, the series started showing Steve Carell’s Michael Scott and Rainn Wilson’s Dwight Schrute in a more sympathetic light. By the end of the series, we’re led to believe the rest of the Dundler Mifflin staff feel genuine love and friendship toward them, in spite of the fact that they never really changed all that much.

No One Is Being Canceled, So Calm Down

By the way, I just want to make it clear before I go forward that no one is being canceled or calling for anyone to be canceled. No one is offended. No one is saying The Office should have been more politically correct, no one is calling for a boycott, and no one is even going so far as to say the show isn’t hilarious–because it is.

I’m saying that on The Office, Michael and Dwight did genuinely horrible things, that these things were portrayed in a humorous light, that neither character ever faced any real consequences for their actions, that they never redeemed themselves or grew in any real way, and that in spite of it all we were led to believe both were not only good people, but good co-workers and bosses.

Michael Scott Is A Genuine Nightmare

the office

When you watch The Office, Michael Scott is hilarious. But if you were to work with Michael Scott, it would be an absolute nightmare and you would be a prisoner (yes, even more than Prison Mike).

Let’s review some of Michael’s greatest hits.

On The Office, in spite of having some rarely good instincts in his choice to fire Creed, he fires Devon because Creed pressures him into it (with nothing more than a single conversation, and without a single drop of authority). He threatens to fire employees if they don’t find him a date after his obsession with an office supply catalogue model ends in tragedy.

He sexually harasses Pam, Angela, and/or Ryan on a daily basis. He does everything he can to intimidate, threaten, and insult Toby for years–even once going so far as framing him for a crime.

He’s a virulent racist and homophobe who outs Oscar to the entire office, and immediately assumes the company’s IT guy is a terrorist because he’s wearing a turban.

Yes, he remembered Angela’s cat’s name, too. What a saint.

In Real Life, Dwight Probably Would Have Killed Everyone

On The Office, Dwight regularly did something that would get you fired in real life even if you had the beefiest, most powerful labor union watching your back–on multiple occasions, he physically assaults his coworkers.

In “Dwight’s Speech,” Dwight tackles Stanley and throws him to the floor. In “Starmageddon” he shoots Stanley with a bull tranquilizer dart. In “Weight Loss,” he pushes Phyllis out of a moving car.

Oh, and let’s not forget “Stress Relief,” when Dwight fakes a fire which makes everyone in the office think they’re going to die, triggering Stanley’s heart attack.

Of course he also bravely protects Jim from Roy when the latter goes wild, after which it was discovered Dwight had numerous potentially lethal weapons stashed all over the office.

The Office UK

Again, I’m not arguing the characters on The Office should not have been portrayed as doing these horrible things–I’m suggesting that there is one way in which the UK version of The Office is undeniably superior to its successor.

Like Michael and Dwight, Ricky Gervais’s David Brent and Mackenzie Crook’s Gareth Keenan do horrible things we are meant to laugh at. But unlike in The Office US, we are never led to believe that David or Gareth are anything more than the ignorant, narrow-minded jerks they appear to be.

They are deeply insecure, abusive oafs who are indicative of why working a 9-5 job drives so many people to despair. The Office UK was honest about that, and still got the laughs.