I’ve watched every single episode of The Office (US) at least three times, some more than I can count. A long-established fan of the British series, I resisted its American sibling for many years out of misplaced cultural snobbery – assuming the original’s excruciating humour would be far superior to any crass imitation.
But now I see them as my two very different but equally talented children, the American series playing with the absurdity of big, unrestrainable characters and their big, unrestrainable emotions in a button-down, styrofoam, monochrome environment. (Or, the inherent ridiculousness of what we call “work”.) And with over 200 tightly scripted, 20-minute episodes, it rewards repeat viewing.
Thankfully, I now have the perfect accompaniment for my rewatch cycles. Actors Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey, who played Pam and Angela respectively and became “best friends” on the show (“We ate lunch together every single day! It is so special to get to work with your best friend!”), have started the podcast Office Ladies: they’re watching every episode of The Office for the first time since performing in it, offering incredibly in-depth commentary on each one. As well as the kind of irresistible personal anecdotes only two cast members could provide, the pair offer an almost terrifying level of enthusiasm: between detailed scene analyses, behind-the-scenes titbits and coloured notecards, they exclaim, “You guys, we’ve become nerdy fans of our own show!”
I devoured all 58 minutes of episode one (yes, three times as long as the pilot itself!) and have already begun spouting the facts I learned to fellow devotees. It’s strictly for real fans only, but they won’t be disappointed.
This article appears in the 23 Oct 2019 issue of the New Statesman, The broken state