Friday, March 12, 2010

The Office (U.K) v. The Office

So, the first thing you need to know is The Office is my favorite television show. The second thing you need to know is, I honestly try to give everything or everyone a fair chance; I try not to go into anything close minded. The third thing, I once fell off my bike into a thorn bush.

Now, the first two things probably make more sense. But for this post, you have to imagine how much pain and embarrassment falling off your bike into a thorn bush can cause a young man. I remember it distinctly, all of my brothers were teaching me to ride a bike. They were walking alongside me making sure I didn't fall and I must admit, I was doing great. That was, of course, until they stopped and let me go on my own. The next two feet were pure bliss, cruising along all on my own. Then...well, you know the rest. Thorn bush. Pain. Tears. I mean, how embarrassing for a 16 year old?

Back to The Office. I have watched every episode, and I've loved each one. Except for maybe the one where Michael and Jan have everyone over for a dinner party. That pushed the threshold of my awkward tolerance. The U.K version however? Every episode is as painful and embarrassing as falling into a thorn bush.

I remember when the US version first came out and everyone was in an uproar about how the U.K. version was so much better, way more original and this new American version wouldn't last. Well, I did my due diligence and I watched the entire U.K. series (thanks to Hulu, who should sponsor me for the amount of time I spend on their site), it took me about a week. There are 3 seasons. The first two are 6 episodes and the final season is comprised of 2 one hour long specials. Mind you, our Office is on season 6.

Look, I get that its "British humour" and I'm not saying thats the reason I didn't like it. I feel like I have an appreciation for it, like I said, I give everything a fair chance (except Jersey Shore, that's beyond me). David Brent (the Michael Scott of U.K.) is by FAR the most painstaking character to watch on the tele. Ricky Gervais (the actor) does an INCREDIBLE job with the character. He's consistent, outrageous, and totally appalling. If you watch The Office, you remember season 1 when Michael was almost unbearable. He was totally frustrating cause he was so moronic. Yet there are things about Michael that are endearing, and you appreciate. He really wants to get married and have kids, you can relate with his desire to be liked and accepted, he shows his true emotions when he stands up to Stanley in the "Did I Stutter?" episode. And, in an all time favorite, he spends a day contemplating his life before coming back and roasting the whole office ("Meredith, you've slept with so many dudes you're beginning to look like one. Stanley, you heart sucks and you crush your wife during sex."). You see the human side to Michael and it keeps you rooting for him.

David Brent, however, is a non-stop ride of unbelievable, painful, and outrageous interactions. He's so concerned with how people see him that he tries to turn every comment or gesture into a landmark occasion for why he should be accepted, but its this that pushes people away. After watching him for prolonged periods of time it felt like I was falling off my bike into a thorn bush. Except instead of falling in and getting right back up, I would be pushed back into the thorns and rolled around in them. Even at his lowest moment, laying on a hotel bed rambling about his old boss, you dont feel bad for him you want to hit him in the head with a loft wedge!

I have a great appreciation for the U.K. Office. It paved the way for Dwight, Andy, Jim and Pam. And the supporting cast of the U.K Office has its funny moments. Keith, for instance, (or Kevin in the US) is a subtly hilarious character. Gareth (or Dwight), has his moments and is the perfect foil to David's attempts to impress the employees. Tim (Jim) is probably the strongest character of them all (not a big surprise). Genuinely likable, you can relate to him and his pranks are almost as good as Halpert's. Other than Dawn (Pam), you don't get to know any of the other characters as well. They're just faces in the background, or props used for David's outlandish attempts at humor.

I will say, the final episode of U.K. Office is redeeming. It's humorous and the story lines don't leave you grimacing. The show is good for a laugh, but I'll stick to good 'ol Stanley, Phyllis, and Creed.

And yes, I eventually learned how to ride a bike.


  1. AJ

    Started watching The Office from the beging around December last year. I'm currently on Season 6 on the episode "Manager and Salesman". I am now ALWAYS looking for an opportunity to say, "That's what she said". Succesfull a couple of times but not out loud because it was with a client.

    Its funny you started this topic about the UK version because last week I went to Hulu and started on episode one and about 10-15 minutes later I turned it off. Not for me.

    So in conclusion...LOVE The Office (US) version.

  2. AJ, Awesome article. I've never watched the UK version. I'm surprised its so bad because I like Ricky Gervais as a comedian. However I do love the US version, but Michael was really tough to like through a lot of episodes because he is so OVER the top at times. But as you say they do bring him back to earth from time to time which is nice.

  3. Tuna! Good to hear you're exercising some restraint with the TWSS (yea, we shortened it).

    Chad, I'm with you. Ricky Gervais is hilarious and I really think he does a great job acting as the character. I just can't handle the character! I thought maybe it'd just be like that for the first season (Season 1 Michael was so frustrating, but he's gotten better over time). David, however, is non-stop. Just toooo much.