Question. Which kind of farewell is best? Well, that’s debatable. False. The Office, it's time you consider collecting severance.
Before you wield your Sabre Pyramid and chuck it at my head like a boomerang, you should know how much I truly love the NBC series. The inspirational mouse pad on my desk has Dwight’s face on it; my last three gifts to my brother were a Dwight bobble head, a Schrute Farms Beet, and a bag of Stanley Nickels; I may or may not own a calculator watch as “cool” as Dwight’s; and a third of my conversational phrases consist of Michael Scott-isms (the other two-thirds belong to Leslie Knope, Liz Lemon, and Abed Nadir).
So, yes, I love The Office. But like with Travis and Old Yeller, it’s time to acknowledge that sometimes when you love someone, you have to let them go. And The Office’s post-Michaelocolypse is worse than Yeller’s rabies. At least the old dog snarled and snapped. The Office still manages to bring out a warm smile or two with a few well-played jokes per episode, making me feel like more like George Milton in his last moments with Lennie. (Steinbeck spoiler!) But that’s why I’m taking the Season 8 finale as my cue to exit. I can’t watch one of my favorite series waste away like this anymore.
May 10’s finale showed us just how far we’ve come from the warm and fuzzy, uncontrollable belly laugh days of the Jim and Pam saga and — dare I say it — Michael’s “courtship” of Jan. There was an earnestness of those first few seasons. The characters, actors, and writers needed us to like them and they threw every wacky idea they could muster at us. And it was perfect. Now, the finale presents us with such gems as Andy playing the drunk janitor for a day just so he can surprise the office that afternoon with the fact that David Wallace bought Dunder Mifflin and everything’s going back to normal. It simply feels like a caricature of the wonderfully inappropriate workplace we once knew.
And I mean no disrespect to Ed Helms, who is a very talented comedian. It’s just that no one can replace Steve Carell, and Andy’s latest professional and romantic stunts are some strange amalgamation of Jim’s relationship with Pam and Michael’s complete lack of touch. Shh. Shh. It's okay. I understand. What else were you supposed to do after Michael left, writers? Still, the problem is we see the series reaching with all its might to recapture the heyday and revive the warm, fuzzy attachment we once felt. And there are moments that manage that feat for a fleeting second, but they’re always extinguished by a hamfisted joke, or Gabe. Gabe’s the worst.
Luckily, that warm feeling isn't completely abolished. After last night’s finale, I moved over to TBS, where a replay of the classic Season 3 episode “Gay Witch Hunt” was on. I’ve probably seen this episode about 15 times, yet in my sleepy stupor I managed to laugh and smile infinitely more at this six-year-old piece of television than at the brand-spanking new episode on NBC. And that’s when I knew it was really over. So now, in the cold light of day, I’m finally taking the big step: