In the fall of 2006, I caught my first full episode The Office. For whatever reason I hadn’t seen the show before, probably due to a busy schedule as well as none of my friends ever talking about watching it. My first full episode was “The Convention,” and, although I don’t know if I would count it among my favorite episodes or anything, it grabbed me for some reason. The awkward humor, the relatable characters and situations, and of course Jim’s cute little glances to the camera, my interest was piqued. I went to Blockbuster (ah, how things have changed in 7 short years) and rented the first disc of Season 2.
Once the credits of “The Dundies” (the first episode of season 2) rolled, I was full-on hooked. I plowed through disc one in an evening, rented disc 2 the next night, then disc 3 and 4. I was caught up by the time the next new episode aired, ready for the continuing antics at Dunder Mifflin, Scranton Branch.
What got me (and probably so many) so hooked on The Office was how real it felt. Dunder Mifflin looks like a typical utilitarian office, the actors look like people I would meet in real life, no one has a ridiculous job title or an unrealistically huge home or a designer wardrobe. The dialogue was natural, no perfectly worded supposedly impromptu speeches, no exceptionally witty banter, the characters stumble and don’t know how to react and say the wrong thing sometimes. The central plot of episodes revolved around remarkably boring things like company health care changes, paper conventions, accounting errors, sales calls.
For better or worse, The Office was my introduction to “fandom”. I learned the meanings of “OTP” and “shipping”, I knew “Jam” had nothing to do with fruit preserves, I became a connoisseur of fan videos and fanfics (and created a few myself), and participated in many very in-depth conversations about Jim and Pam’s characters and storyline. And of course, I created this site!
Like any long running show, The Office had moments of feeling a little stale and repetitive, as well as some storylines that felt increasingly unlikely and silly. I know my fervor for the show waned a bit as the years went on, but I still always loved watching Michael’s well-meaning but sometimes misguided quest for affection, Dwight’s grabs for power and recognition, and Jim and Pam’s subtle and sweet relationship progression. More than any other show, I feel a connection to Dunder Mifflin ad it’s staff. To quote Michael Scott, saying good-bye is gonna hurt like a mother$%#@.