I’ve been watching The Office since the first season. I think I came home from a soccer game and turned it on to watch the first ever televised Dundies. I’ve stuck with it through thick and thin, even when seasons didn’t live up to par. It’s easy to agree that I’m a fan of the show.
I have a bit of a beef with the most recent season. For those of you who are unaware of the events of the seventh season, this post will contain spoilers.
My beef comes with Michael’s goodbye. I personally don’t think the show should exist without him. I fully support Steve Carrel’s decision to move onto other projects, it’s his life. I don’t support NBC’s decision to keep the show going without him. As far as I’m concerned, the show is Michael Gary Scott.
In the first episode, Michael takes us around the office and introduces us to many faces we’ll get to know quite well in the coming years. He welcomes us into his home. Throughout the seasons, he continues to let us peer into his home. Oftentimes, the camera runs ever during his most intimate moments.
We never are told why the documentary is being made. We don’t know who commissioned it nor do we know why they chose the Scranton branch of Dunder Mifflin. But I’ve always had the feeling that it was Michael who took the initiative. He’s always been a fan of theater and improv. He always thinks higher of his workplace than most people do. Why wouldn’t he want to showcase the people he calls family in the place he calls home?
That being said, I think the show should have ended with Michael walking off to catch his flight to Colorado. He has a very heartfelt monologue to end his time on the show, though he still retains portions of the character we’ve come to love over the years. If I had directed the show, I would have ended it with Michael’s monologue, making sure he still asks to be notified if the documentary is ever shown. I’d follow this with Michael taking off his mic and walking off into the airport. Pam would still have her silent and brief goodbye with Michael and it would finally cut to credits. That ending would have brought tears to my eyes. It would have been powerful, invoking every emotion in the audience that Michael Gary Scott was feeling. His lament would be our lament.
But it didn’t end this way. Pam’s report of the conversation wasn’t bad, but I still took away from Michael’s exit. Before her report, I was reminded of Lost in Translation where Bill Murray leans in and whispers in Scarlett Johansson ear, but we don’t know what he says. We don’t need to know because we can fill in the words for ourselves. Deep down we know.
Then to top off the botched ending, we get a shot of Will Ferrel looking ever more out of place in Michael’s office. The moment was ruined.
“Got most everybody. So…Holly’s my family now. She’s my family. And the babies I make with her will be my children. The people you work with are just, when you get down to it, your very best friends.
“They say on your deathbed, you never wish you spent more time at the office. But I will. Gotta be a lot better than a deathbed. I actually don’t understand deathbeds. I mean, who would buy that?
“Well, I guess this is it. Hey, will you guys let me know if this ever airs? Thank you. Alright, oh! This is going to feel so good getting this thing off my chest.
Off the mic: “That’s what she said.”
-Michael Gary Scott (2011)