Summer Viewing Club: Cocktails

This is the 11th installment of my viewing club series. Each week, whatever rerun NBC airs, I will suggest 2 or 3 episodes with the same “theme” and post some discussion questions.

This week’s rerun: Cocktails
The theme: Jim’s rebound relationship with Karen
When Jim returned to Scranton, he had a new title, new car, and new girlfriend. Despite lingering feelings for Pam, Jim seemed determined to make things work with Karen, and Karen was more than willing to work through their “rough patches”. Let’s take a look back at the couple we loved to hate but also hated to love.

The Viewing List

The Coup (3.03): A crush is clearly developing as Karen teases Jim with her superior video games skills.

Back From Vacation (3.12): Jim and Karen have their first disagreement, and Jim gets advice from an unlikely source.

Cocktails (3.18): At a cocktail party for managers, Jim learns about Karen’s past, or does he?

Beach Games (3.23): Jim and Karen have fun together at the beach, and start thinking about life beyond Dunder Mifflin Scranton.

extra credit The Job (3.24/25): Decisions must be made as both Jim and Karen interview for a job at corporate.

Discussion Questions

1. What was your favorite Jim and Karen moment?

2. Was Jim using Karen? Was Karen using Jim?

3. Why do you think there was so little PDA between these two?

4. Let’s say the Scranton branch had closed and Stamford stayed open, how do you think Jim and Karen’s relationship would have played out?

5. Off topic, but I have to ask: Do you think anything ever happened between Karen and Andy?

Watch the episodes, ponder the questions, and please post your answers. And feel free to post suggestions for the next SVC. Next week is (surprise!) The Negotiation.


4 thoughts on “Summer Viewing Club: Cocktails

  1. 1. What is your favorite Jim and Karen moment?

    I liked when Jim was riding his bicycle drunk and Karen decided to give him a ride home since he fell into the bushes. That scene could be interpreted as a metaphor for their entire relationship to some since it was like Jim trying to regain his pride and emotional mobility after being rejected by Pam. He then decides to ride wobbily into a new relationship instead of really wanting to be in it and lets Karen take the lead and drive since he’s just the passenger waiting to see where they end up. Or not. 🙂

    2. Was Jim using Karen? Was Karen using Jim?

    I think it wasn’t so much that Jim was using Karen, but trying to prove to himself and everyone else that just because he got his heart broken by Pam doesn’t mean he can’t find happiness with another woman. In the end, though, Jim realizes that he still loves Pam and that Karen was a distraction for him to not want Pam so much. And even though Jim really liked Karen and thought she was beautiful and funny and knew she really liked him, in his heart he couldn’t let go of Pam.

    3. Why do you think there was so little PDA between these two?

    I think there was very little PDA because Karen knew deep down that Jim still wanted Pam and Karen didn’t want to show a lot of affection with him because she was afraid that might push him further away. She waited for him to come around and realize that he wanted her instead, but that never happened. So Jim and Karen came to a subconscious understanding that they would be together but not totally since he was still very guarded and broken from Pam’s rejection and didn’t want to open himself up again.

    4. Let’s say the Scranton branch had closed and Stamford stayed open, how do you think Jim and Karen’s relationship would have played out?

    I think that Jim and Karen would have still ended up dating and been together for a while longer, but would have eventually broken up since he was still deeply in love with Pam. He would have heard from Pam at one time or another that she was single again since she wasn’t over him, either and Roy would have done something to break them up like his bar freakout. Pam may have even transferred to Stamford if Scranton had closed just to be near Jim, and both would have ended up together eventually.

    5. Off topic, but I have to ask: Do you think anything ever happened between Karen and Andy?

    If anything happened, it would have been Andy coming onto Karen while he was really drunk or playing his banjo (or both) and her shooting him down. Both would then pretend like nothing ever happened.

  2. I should come back around to answer some of these…

    1. On the one hand, I really like it in Diwali where Jim is drunk and Karen gives him a ride home. The part where Jim falls off the bicycle — without fail — makes me giggle like crazy every time.
    On the other hand, I really like the episode where Karen and Phyllis go out on the sales call and I LOVE it when Jim sees Karen’s get-up for the first time. Hee, the look on his face is priceless.

    2. Was Jim using Karen? …Hard to say. I really want to say yes because this season Jim seemed like the kind of guy that would find another pretty girl and then parade her around Pam to make her jealous. And I mean, really, he was doing the same thing to Pam that Pam had been (more unknowingly) doing to him for the past…however many years they worked together…only with Roy in the picture.
    Was Karen using Jim? Not at first, but I think that towards the end of the season she maybe was trying to find an conceivable way to keep Jim away from Pam and end the relationship that was going on between the two of them.
    I didn’t like end of the season Karen. 😛

    3. From the standpoint of the writers, I think that they wanted her to be unlikable. I don’t think Jim and Karen had any chemistry on the show, but I more fault that on TPTB more than anything else. In the end, Jim and Pam were supposed to be together, and I don’t think that anyone wanted the viewers to start thinking, “Well…maybe Karen IS a better fit for Jim…”
    From a standpoint of the show…Karen just always came off as a rather professional person and since most of the moments where Jim and Karen were together were work environments, it makes sense that she wouldn’t want to be all over him.

    4. I really don’t think it would have been a lot different, to be honest. One way or another, Jim would have found out about Pam’s feelings for him and it all would have stayed lingering in the back of his mind until they drove him crazy. 🙂

    5. Heehee, I like to entertain the thought that something did. Probably when Karen was really drunk…maybe Andy was as well… 🙂

  3. 1. What was your favorite Jim and Karen moment?
    I liked it when she was screwing with his mind at David Wallace’s party.

    2. Was Jim using Karen? Was Karen using Jim?
    Jim was definitely using Karen in a feeble attempt to get over Pam. Even though he knew Pam was single, there hadn’t been a lot of communication between the two of them at that time, so he rightfully assumed that Pam didn’t want him now that she was newly single.

    Karen said back in Stamford that she didn’t think Jim was into her, but she was into him. I think she was using him for a friend with benefits until he came to his senses and wanted to be with her or came to his senses and went to Pam.

    3. Why do you think there was so little PDA between these two?
    Karen was all about being professional in the workplace. On more than one occasion, she chided Jim for playing pranks when he could have been doing his job and saving for an outing for the two of them.

    4. Let’s say the Scranton branch had closed and Stamford stayed open, how do you think Jim and Karen’s relationship would have played out?
    I think it would have gone a lot stronger, but Jim would never have totally gotten over Pam.

    5. Off topic, but I have to ask: Do you think anything ever happened between Karen and Andy?
    A drunken Christmas party…and they both made out. Which is why Karen dumped her Jager shot in the trash from now on. :o)

  4. Thanks for the great responses everyone!

    1. It broke my Jam heart, but the fake grenade thing in The Coup was pretty cute.

    2. Jim was definitely using Karen. Sure, they were flirting a bit in Stamford, but he had relatively little interest in her until he knew he would be working with Pam again. Jim tried to create a whole “evolved” persona to move on from Pam, and Karen played into it nicely. As time went on he started to care more for her, of course, but to him, she was always “the girl a guy like me should want to be with” and never quite “the girl I actually want to be with”.

    Karen started off genuinely liking Jim, but as time went on it was clear she wanted to kind of mold Jim into this successful corporate man who hobnobbed with important people, dressed and did his hair a certain way, and made enough money to take her on a trip.

    3. I agree with Amy and Auna that they’re in a work environment so they wouldn’t be all over each other. Besides Jim was Karen’s work superior, so I’m sure they got a lecture from HR that PDAs would be a big no-no in front of everyone.
    I also think (at least before Phyllis Wedding) Jim couldn’t help but be aware that a single Pam was sitting right behind him. He wasn’t going to make another move for fear of getting his heart broken again, but he was still kind of sending her a “I’m not totally unavailable” vibe whether he knew it or not.
    And lastly I think it came down to the old adage that you can’t fake intimacy. We didn’t see them touch much, but when they did, it was almost always initiated by Karen, which makes sense because Karen’s feelings for Jim were stronger and deeper than his were for her.

    4. I wanted to start this question off by saying I think we saw two Karen’s in the course of the season: Stamford Karen who was cool, smart, and confident, and Scranton Karen who was insecure and struggled to fit in.
    They may have started dating eventually, but I still think Jim would have had a hard time giving his heart to Karen, and I don’t think cool, confident Stamford Karen would have put up with Jim’s reluctance nearly as long as insecure Scranton Karen did. I think they’re relationship would have fizzled out after a few month and they would decided they were better as friends. I heard someone once say that Jim and Pam were like lovers trying to be friends, while Jim and Karen were friends trying to be lovers, and as we know, neither worked out.

    5. I have a suspicion that Karen and Andy may have gone out once, but I’m sure Karen realized about 15 minutes into the date that Andy was nuts and nothing happened after that. Andy of course will forever believe something DID happen.

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