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Friday, June 26, 2020

Book Review: The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s: An Oral History by Andy Greene

I didn't love The Office right off the bat. And honestly, I've never been a fan of the British show. I know that's sacrilege to say, but it was just too dark and too uncomfortable for me. That said, it quickly grew on me, particularly as I've worked in quite a few dysfunctional offices myself (at one point in my early twenties, I'd had such a string of bad bosses in a row that my father pointed out the common denominator was me. No, I was not the problem, except that perhaps I should have been more discerning in what jobs I took. A problem many, many people on this show have as well.)

I have grown to love oral histories. It's so great to hear the stories right from the mouths of the people involved, from the creators to the actors to backstage staff. I did notice in this one, unlike the last one I read (Modern Family), there was some dish that was skipped over. It was mentioned a couple of times that some actors became divas and even difficult to work with in later seasons, but that was glossed over the real story was not told and the actors were not named (whereas in the Modern Family book, everyone was very up front about the two showrunners having developed a deep dislike of each other after the pilot and refused to work together ever again, which bizarrely worked.) But the weakness of Season 8 and the ballooning character list and that Robert California was probably a mistake, and the writers never really knew what to do with the character of Nellie, was all addressed. As was the transformation of the character of Michael Scott from more of a real jerk in Seasons 1 and 2, to more a lovable, giant child of a boss the rest of the time.

If, like me, you love all things The Office and have been listening to the fantastic podcast, Office Ladies with Jenna and Angela, you'll get a few repeat stories, although I did appreciate that the stories were consistent. The book naturally can't go into a deep dive of every single episode, but it's a nice complement to the podcast, that here we get overviews of entire seasons instead.

Much fun, and I rebinged the first three seasons while reading this. Great reading for these stressful times.

I bought this book from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC, an independent bookstore. 

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