New Thing #139: Watching The End of 'The Office'

The_OfficeThursday night was the series finale of The Office. My wife and I watched it on DVR delay Friday night.

It was pretty good - like much of the recent history of the show it wasn't the best TV I ever watched, but it also wasn't terrible.

Still, I found it very touching.

And I think that's due to a number of factors.

First of all, and I don't think I'm alone in this experience - The Office, especially in its finale but, as was made clear in the finale had been happening for nine years, captured what a workplace is like.

And that spot towards the end where Jim calls it (I don't remember exactly, so I'll paraphrase), "The most awful, amazing, terrible, terrific" place - I can totally relate to that. Not in my current job - I'm lucky in that way - but in my time in the TV business.

My first professional work experience was not great. But it was so great. It was a terrible place to work because it was run by terrible people...but it was an awesome place to work because it was filled with awesome people. I only maintain tangential relationships with those folks, but we all knew we were in a tough situation together work-wise, and we made the most of it socially. Not unlike the characters in The Office. (I also met my wife at that job. Not unlike the characters in The Office.)

The other thing that struck me as the show ended - and I could be way off base here because I'm only remembering something in the moment - The Office could very well be the longest-tenured show I've watched from start to finish.

(I say longest-tenured because as my wife pointed out when I mentioned this to her we watched Ben and Kate from beginning to end, but that's clearly different. Also - bonus! - Dakota Johnson, aka Kate, appeared as 'Dakota' in The Office finale.)

So let's break this down a bit. Although I've seen every Seinfeld episode, I only began watching that in season 2 or so. I remember my parents watching it before I did, and I only caught up through syndication. The Simpsons was the other show I was on early and watched straight through...for about 15 years. But that show has just kept going for another 10, and I haven't watched in about a decade. I loved Scrubs, but that petered out at the end and the network switch threw me. Cheers and the big series finales of my childhood started when I was too young, and Friends I only watched sporadically...and I think it ended while I was preparing for my wedding and I don't know if I ever watched the tape of the finale. (Now that I'm doing this mental checklist I'm realizing next year's How I Met Your Mother finale will fall into the same category as The Office.)

The funny thing is I didn't like The Office all that much at first. I found it uncomfortable (like many others, I think). I remember thinking, "Why is it being shown like a documentary?" Remember how different that was back then? Eventually I began to really appreciate how funny it was.

I assumed I missed some shows early on...but I must have seen all of the episodes in repeats that first season, because watching that retrospective before the finale I remembered everything.  (I have this weird thing about TV shows, by the way. Some of the stuff they show from 7 or 8 seasons prior seems to me like there's no way it could have been that long ago. Like the diversity episode. That was season 1? Seems more recent than that to me. Maybe because my mind works in years and not 22-episode chunks - I have a hard time following TV calendars, I think.)

But I kind of love that the documentary piece was addressed so strongly in the final season. I love that they didn't mess with Jim  and Pam too much - that made me very uncomfortable during this season. And though it had its weak moments, I looked forward to watching the show more often than not.

Series finales are always touching in some way or another. This one felt a little more so than others.