For nine years, "The Office" was my show
I was first introduced to "The Office" via my Aunt and a few Season 2 DVD's; it was love at first episode. By the time the third season premiered, I had already sold my soul to this mockumentary comedy about "the American workplace". At school, me and my friends eagerly discussed what was going to happen to Jim and Pam during Thursday lunch, and by Friday morning we were all commiserating when she went back to Roy. Between Bar Mitzvahs and Harry Potter book releases, all the 13-14 year old kids I knew were enthralled by this dry, satiric, portrayal of life in an office. Yeah, we're bizarre, I know.
Season 4 was the first season I started reaching out to other fans online via the mecca of all Office fansites OfficeTally.com, communities like LiveJournal, and expanding my horizons to the new world that was Twitter. My circle of friends grew as well. My passion for "The Office" was a great ice breaker starting high school, and many of the "dangerous internet strangers" my parents warned me about started to become my actual friends by way of heated
140-character discussion. By Season 5, my non-watching friends finally joined the party so they could actually contribute to something during our annual Friday lunch "recaps".
The year Michael left the show, was the same year I graduated high school
In every way a show can consume a person, "The Office" ate me up. Or rather, I ate it up. I remember driving to St. Louis (hometown of three "Office" cast members) when I read the news that made me gasp so hard my mom thought we had hit something. The show was coming to an end. It made sense; nine seasons is a long time, and the show had basically run out of storylines at that point, but it was a tough loss nonetheless.
I remember when the first episode aired after the WGA strike ("Dinner Party"), I got a little choked up hearing the theme song. It was good to be back with the family. I felt a dedication to the show; that I would never take a new episode for granted again.
Every single episode of that ninth season was breathtaking television for me. I could count down the number of episodes before the last one. I was desperate to find out what was going to happen next, but also wished time could move very slowly so I could delay the inevitable.
But then, it happened. On May 16, 2013 the show finally came to a close. The series finale was...perfect. It was the perfect way to go because it made me so happy that I forgot I was supposed to be sad for the show!
Summer hiatus began and for a while, it just seemed like a normal season. My heart could still feel the anticipation of finding out what was "going to happen next in Scranton" come the fall.
And then NBC had their annual up-fronts. "The Office" had no new previews or teasers or synopses for upcoming episodes. And perhaps worst of all, some other show had taken the time slot where "The Office" normally fell. At least we still had "Parks and Recreation"?
Of course, it's not the first time my heart's been broken by a TV show finale. Nor am I the first one to experience it! So for those of you who are reading this thinking, "My show's gonna be fine! It'll last forever!" Brace yourself for the hard truth
1. You become mope-y
Is that a word? "Mope-y"? If not here's the definition: "the adjective version of the verb 'to mope'", or in other words, "to feel sad about it all the time".
I always like to picture myself, kicking a can down a long suburban street, hands in my pockets, whistling "The Office" theme song. You miss the show, but what are you going to do? Especially when the series finale is actually good. This is where I almost envy fans who've been burned by bad series finales. At least then you can be mad about it and try to create a better scenario for your characters. But when the finale is good? What is there to complain about?
You quote the show and in that mope-y tone of voice you say, "I miss The Office". You tap a bobblehead and you think, "I miss The Office". You see a former (ugh FORMER!) cast member on TV and you gently touch the screen while whispering "I miss The Office".
2. You Become Desperate
YES! Even though the show is over, the cast isn't dead! You can still find them on your TV or in your movies, pursuing a career they now have thanks to the exposure from the show! You watch like a proud parent as your faves sign deals with major networks for their own pilots. You "favorite" their tweets about their new families. You smile and nod while listening to the soothing sound of John Krasinski narrate Esurance commercials.
Even when you know the new project is going to be terrible or tank right away, you still tune in because you gotta support the kids. You're the proud soccer mom, after all, and you didn't rear these kiddos for nine years to miss the big game! And thankfully "The Office" has churned out mega stars, so there's no shortage of seeing them around!
But how many more bad rom-coms can you take? How many episodes of a TV show can you endure before you think to yourself, "I love you but I can't watch this anymore?" The sheer heartbreak of admitting to yourself that you just don't love this actor in a new project the same you did on your show. "But I follow them on Twitter!" And now their show is cancelled because you didn't tune in and give them the ratings they needed. Shame.
3. You Find Your New Show
You never thought you'd love another show again. And then one of your friends recommends a series or perhaps it pops up on your Netflix, and you begin the cycle all over again. It's not sad, it's the truth. Your a television lover after all, and you will love again!
But you can't help but feel the pang of guilt changing your desktop from a tasteful "Office" wallpaper to something from "Game of Thrones". When you change your Twitter handle for something more "new show" appropriate. When your tumblr dashboard slowly but surely makes room for the "new show".
You know the scene in "Toy Story 2" when Jessie is shoved under the bed and collects dust while Emily starts to play with makeup and different toys? That's kind of how it is.
This is very difficult to accept because, while you will never ever forget your "old show" standard, the "new show" is also very good and easy to love. I'm here to hold your hand and tell you "it's okay". This is the cycle of TV and it's perfectly natural to feel these things.
4. You...kinda forget
There was a time in my life where I would think about "The Office" at least once a day. Even after the show ended, it stayed in the front of my mind, bugging me with questions like, "I wonder what Meredith Palmer is doing right now?" (The answer is "probably drinking" by the way.)
But yes, sad as it is, you start to live your life as if it never happened. Your obsessive need to be all about the show starts to fade as either the "new show" enters your life or you simply...change interests. Maybe you're a film buff now. Maybe you're really into sports. Or maybe you're in a position where you really don't have a lot of time to devote to any show!
I would be watching TV, scrolling through the guide, and pass right over "The Office" reruns. Sometimes I'll click on it to see what episode is playing, and if it's one I'm not too fond of or one I've seen a hundred times, I keep scrolling. Maybe if it's a rainy day I'll stop and watch, but by the time the first commercial hits I'll think, "I have these on DVD! I don't need this!" and change the channel.
But I'm not watching the DVDs. They're collecting dust. And I'm not re-watching on Netflix, either. It's nine seasons after all, I can't commit to a re-watch right now!
I'm not proud to admit this but yeah, "The Office" managed to sneak it's way so far back in my mind, I didn't even do anything to celebrate the two-year anniversary of the show ending this past May. Could it also be because I was graduating college the same day? Maybe. But there should be no excuse for missing such a momentous day in my fandom life.
5. It All Comes Back To You In a Glorious, Beautiful Way
My roommate started watching the show on Netflix our senior year of college. I woke up from a nap one day and heard that theme song. At first, I resisted. I couldn't submit myself back into this world that I had done so well to let go of. But slowly and surely, I would stick around and watch a few episodes.
"Oscar didn't know Steve Carrell was going to kiss him, " I would ramble off the years (literal YEARS) of Office trivia.
"Oh my god that's so funny!", she would say with a chuckle.
Because I'd seen all of these episodes to death, some of the punchlines I expected and so I rarely laughed out loud. She, on the other hand, was experiencing the show for the first time so she roared with applause and glee for every "look to the camera" or talking head. It was like rediscovering the magic all over again.
Recently, we watched something like 15 episodes in two days. Just kind of jumping around Netflix, watching what we wanted to. She admitted she'd never seen the final season (since she began watching while Netflix only carried up until season eight) and because I was feeling nostalgic, I agreed to watch with her.
I relived all the major moments, all the heartbreak, all the stress, and all the joy the show gave me for nine years in a single sitting. I smiled through every single episode, kind of like the way old people smile at kids playing. You know that kind of knowing but nostalgic and blissful smile? Like they know they're about to die? Yeah I had that smile.
And you know what? It was really good. It was as good - if not better - than I remembered it. There was no stress going into these episodes, because I already knew what was going to happen! Re-watching the finale reminded me of all the fandemonium leading up to it. How relieved all of my "Office" friends and I were that the show ended on a high note. It was just about 4am by the time we finished it all, and I didn't feel tired or exhausted; I felt at peace.
It was the closure I needed.
At the end of the episode, tears in my eyes, I croaked, "this is my family", and my roommate laughed at me. Go on and laugh; this show is my family.
I know for many of you, this September is the beginning to the end of some of your favorite shows. For some of you, it's the return of a favorite. And for a handful of you who are very lucky, it's the opportunity to introduce yourself to a brand new show you're just going to fall in love with.
But no matter what, know that your show is not immortal and it will end. If you're lucky, it will end on the show's terms and not get cancelled like a rug pulled out from underneath you. It's going be sad, it's going to be harsh, and you're going to feel lost for a while. It may seem that all is lost, but fear not, there is still hope.
Between DVD's, streaming hosts like Netflix and Hulu, or even purchasing agents like iTunes, "your show" is never too far away from you. Hell if you're lucky, they'll even run reruns of it on cable channels! And your "show friends" will be there for you, too. Always just a tweet away or a nudge at the water cooler. "Remember that time Michael grilled his foot on the George Forman grill?" Yeah I do, buddy. Yeah I do. And perhaps that's the best thing "The Office" ever did; connected me with very cool people who I admire and hold dearly.
Thank you "The Office", despite your ups and downs, you always left me satisfied and smiling