Thoughts from just south of Dunder Mifflin

I watched the series finale of “The Office” (US) last night (yes, after watching the entire series). And I have to admit that I got a little sentimental at all the Jim/Pam stuff of the last few episodes. I very much appreciated that, during the course of their marriage, the writers gave them some real problems and that Pam even says in the final episode that, while the documentary-viewers may have seen a “fairy tale” romance, it didn’t feel like a fairy tale much of the time.

One thing I liked (can’t remember which season it was) was that when Jim was presented with an easy opportunity to be unfaithful to his wife, he steadily and strongly resisted it. The writers didn’t just decide to mess with their marriage in that way just to watch everything blow up.

I also liked that there were real impasse-type problems between them in the last season, stuff that was based on whether personal fulfillment would compete with what it took to take care of the family, and that the choice was actually made not to “follow the dream” while leaving the family behind.

Indeed, “follow your dream no matter what” actually doesn’t come out too well as a theme in the series in general. I liked that, too, because that philosophy can be spiritually deadly. There was also a wonderful theme of reconciliation with and even kindness to enemies. Jim and Dwight eventually become actual friends, because both see in each other their own humanity.

And there are even real consequences for those who give in to addictions or foolish whims, whatever they might be. Andy doesn’t get to keep Erin. The Senator doesn’t end up with Oscar or get to keep Angela. Even when people overindulge in eating or drinking, it always turns out badly. And hard work and loyalty eventually do result in reward.

Although the telos of Jim and Pam’s relationship seems to be mainly “You are my everything,” etc., this may be the first time I’ve seen something approaching a somewhat realistic and positive view of marriage on television.

Yes, there’s some crude humor throughout the series, and that’s a drawback, but overall, I think the reason why that show went for nine years is that in many moments it spoke to a humanity that doesn’t fit into the stereotypes that TV usually presents, nor even to the consumerist mold that is normally promoted in that medium.

Good show.