Note: Spoilers abound below!
The beauty of The Office was that, in its heyday, it was a projection of our own lives, the banality of spending every single day in a cubicle going through the motions of a job whose value begins and ends with the paycheck. The listlessness, the awkward moments with the clueless boss, the watercooler romances, the little jokes that get you through the day.
The Office was supposed to go on for decades, in theory; even knowing that it had to one day go off the air, it was hard to imagine the crew at Dunder Mifflin working anywhere other than at the mid-sized paper company in Scranton. Jim would always be pranking Dwight, Michael (and then, Andy) would always be the clueless manager, Kevin would always be sitting in the back and living in his own strange little world. But instead of the long-running series ending with a simple clockout, it all came apart, the office ending as The Office ended too.
It wasn’t a bad thing, of course; this was, after all, a TV show, and finality is important, especially when it comes to a series that got its hooks so deep into fans’ hearts. But still:
Would you have ever expected Jim to be the best man at Dwight’s wedding? Or for him to be genuinely kind and generous in performing the intimate duties entrusted to him by the guy whose stapler he suspended in Jell-O in the very first episode?
After all the drama, did it seem possible for Pam and Jim to ever leave Scranton?
Can you imagine Kevin not only no longer working at Dunder Mifflin, but owning his own bar?
Stanley, retired to a shack in Florida?
How about Michael Scott, back in Scranton, showing photos of his children?
Probably not. But whether or not the show overstayed its welcome by a few seasons, the ultimate endings felt right. There was the meta ending, of course, with the airing of the documentary that was being “filmed” throughout the entire series. But there was something more to it than that: They survived the common drudgery that drew us to them in the first place.
And even if we all return to our own offices on Friday, it’s nice to know that the characters for whom we rooted (and often laughed at) over the last nine years made it out, finding happiness beyond the momentary relief of the break room.