The Western world runs on nostalgia. Fond, if not flawed feelings about a time gone by. Remember the first time you heard your favorite song? Wasn’t everything different then? Simpler, even. You were younger, full of hope, rocking out to “Closer” by Nine Inch Nails. Okay, maybe you like a K-pop sensation instead. Sure, sure, fine. My point is, we all yearn for how things used to be. Back in the latter years of the 90s when I was still but a wee boy, there was a radio station called 99X. It was cleverly 99.9FM in Central Illinois. I’ve no idea if the station still exists, and I refuse to Google it. Don’t tell me what to do.
99X would play a top nine countdown at nine o’clock every night. As this was past our assigned bedtime and listening to music that was very much full of edited profanity, we kept it quiet. As I recall, it was something to look forward to; something we could also discuss with friends at school. ‘Twas something for my brothers and I to bond over. What was the reality of it, though? We were already half asleep already, listening to a radio with no subwoofer on such low volume that it was impossible to hear the lyrics. Our necks were fastened into uncomfortable positions as we listened, and it’s quite possible that I don’t remember single damn song we heard.
How does this relate to a The Office reboot? Take my example above of nostalgia and imagine I presently corralled my two brothers at 9pm on some bunk beds and listened eagerly for the countdown to begin. First of all, we’re all in the 30s range now, so that’s weird. Second, who even uses radios anymore? Okay, I do, but that’s because my car doesn’t have an auxiliary input. Awkward things happen when you try to force an event to occur just because you remembered it being fun.
I love The Office. I still watch it as often as I did when it was airing. It’s never lost its appeal, just like Seinfeld, Friends, and Cheers. It has aged, just like those other two giants of evening television. The references are outdated, as is the technology represented in the show. The Office is a classic because it doesn’t try to be anything other than a show about a paper company. The showrunners aren’t trying to sell you on anything. There is no theme; no message you must somehow understand. The Office is as pure as it is simple comedic gold, and that is why we cannot let a reboot happen.
Why Shouldn’t We Try to Reboot The Office?
What’s that, you say? Stop speaking so loudly. Anyways, loud people aside, we have ample evidence that a continuation of the series is a no good, terrible, terrible idea. Just look at the ninth season of The Office. The showrunners had lost Steve Carell at the end of season seven and more or less tried not to sink the series in the eight season. The eighth season was pretty crap overall, but characters like Robert California and cameos from David Wallace really helped it from being a full-on stinker.
Then the ninth season happened. This epic season directly began with Jim and Pam admitting that nothing new nor interesting was ever going to happen in their lives. Pam literally told the camera, “Don’t you have all the footage you need already? It’s only a paper company.” This fourth wall break was obtuse and heartbreaking. It took people out of the cozy facade of a regular paper company, and spun it around on its axis until it was something less. A documentary of a paper company which will in turn debut these people’s as a reality series. This realization on-screen was meant to add a layer of depth to all these Dunder Mifflin lives, but instead it stripped away the mystique that had built for eight seasons.
These Dunder Mifflin-ites of a living, breathing office went from being real people with great stories to actors and actresses in the span of the ninth season. Things happened, drama ensued, and by the end, very little of the paper company we knew and loved was left. Everyone had moved on to the big storyline of getting their documentary aired. Many of the characters quit in-show to go pursue what they felt were meaningful jobs. They left the office behind to go out and give their hard-earned characters some sort of catharsis. I didn’t believe any of it, and for the longest time I refused to watch the last season.
Rebooting The Office Will Be Worse Than Retrying The OJ Verdict
Since season nine ran out of ideas for funny office-born pranks, and went along with an arbitrarily more meaningful script, I can definitely tell you what will happen in a season 10. Three or four of the original cast will come back on as full-timers. Guys like Steven Carell and Rainn Wilson will not, I suspect. They know that leaving their characters In Memoraium is the kindest thing they can do. Who else here was upset at Luke Skywalker’s role in these recent movies? I think an older Dwight Schrute would have all the earmarks of an unbelievable character. If Michael Scott were to return, it would only be as a cameo, like he did at the end of the ninth season. He knew the risk of coming back and associating himself with the final act of The Office. He did it anyway, and kept his lines short and in-keeping with his character. That’s the only way to do it.
They could have a whole new cast and crew and try that out, but I see it ending in failure. In the end, every episode would be judged against the original series instead of assuming an identity of its own. In another way, just like we will never have a Kiefer Sutherland led 24 (that’s an good) or a Hugh Laurie run House, we will never see another Steven Carell as Michael Scott again.
As sad as I am to know that, I also know that seasons one through seven of The Office are the greatest depiction of a paper company that will ever be. I sincerely hope that our children and their children will still look at Michael Scott trying to sign up for a Verizon five friends-and-family plan and wonder why he couldn’t even get Jan to sign on. Michael is a sad, hopeful, if not nostalgic fellow and that’s how it should stay. Let it be. NBC, I beg you. On my hands and knees. Don’t do it. Please.