‘The Office’ 101: Ultimate guide to the greatest show on Earth

2005 show has second life in streaming universe

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“The Office” is a sitcom television show about a fictitious paper company, Dunder Mifflin, and the people who manage it in Scranton, PA.

Since debuting on NBC in 2005, people continue to watch this hilarious show on streaming platforms like Netflix because of its characters, storylines, and beyond funny jokes. What attracts people 15 years later to sit and watch 201 episodes through nine seasons is the unique and fun twist on office culture. 

“The Office” showcases what life is like in the mundane world of selling paper and paper products. The captain of this ship and the show’s center is manager Michael Scott, played by Steve Carell. Carell plays his character as a fun, loving, dopey, and clueless manager that loves cracking jokes and creating unique memories with each person on his staff. Catch phrases like, “That’s what she said,” and “I’m not superstitious but I am a little stitious,” are why people, myself included, quote Michael on a daily basis because there is a Michael quote for any occasion. 

The office romance between prankster salesman Jim Halpert and artsy receptionist Pam Beesly is another reason why fans are continually rewatching the show. Since the first episode Jim and Pam flirt and pine over each other. These partners in crime share memorable moments every Office fan wants to experience, such as the gas station proposal and Niagara Falls wedding.

The one relationship that deserves the most attention though is between top salesman Dwight Shrute and his bestest mensch (best man), Jim Halpert. Jim and Dwight are frenemies who over the course of the show’s run engage in a prank war with one another. Some memorable pranks include a stapler in jello, the mega desk, recruitment for the CIA, and the iconic identity theft scene. These are just the tip of the iceberg given the amount of pranks and funny memorable moments between these two.   

This show is relatable for viewers because it shows the mistakes and messes people make and how they manage to get out of them. We are able to see cringe comedy, inappropriate office behavior, and humiliation, but also the friendships and relationships that co-workers have with one another. 

Here’s my Shabooya Roll Call for the staff of Dunder Mifflin Paper Co. 

Michael Scott aka World’s Best Boss (played by Steve Carell) is a childish and immature wannabe screenwriter and actor who leads the whole operation with snappy one liners that manage to offend almost everyone but turns out to be the backbone of the office because of his unconditional love for his Dunder Mifflin family. 

Dwight Shrute (played by Rainn Wilson) is the assistant to the regional manager (although the running joke is that he thinks he is the assistant regional manager), beet farmer, star salesman, and volunteer sheriff deputy. He is known for his lack of social skills and commonsense. He’s clueless about pop culture, once referring to “Justice Beaver.”

Jim Halpert (played by John Krasinski) will forever be the king of pranks and the charming salesman everyone is in love with (myself included). Jim might not be dedicated to his job but is dedicated to pulling pranks on every staff member and finding cute moments with his eventual wife Pam. 

Pam Beesley (expertly played by Jenna Fischer) is part artist and part receptionist who ends her 3-year engagement to warehouse worker, Roy, to fall in love with Jim Halpert. Pam creates murals for the Irish Cultural Center, won a dundie the office award Michael gives out to staff for the whitest shoes, but is never allowed back at any Chili’s location for the rest of her life.

Angela Martin (played by Angela Kinsey) is the cat-loving and strict accountant who has an on-and-off-again relationship with Dwight Shrute. She was the head of the party planning committee (until she was blackmailed out of the title by her colleague, Phyllis Vance), married to a state senator (but then divorced), and is known for throwing her cat Bandit into the ceiling to save him from a fire. 

Kevin Malone (portrayed by Brian Baumgartner) is a clumsy and socially awkward accountant with slow wit but amazing drumming skills and a bomb chili recipe. His sense of style can be highlighted by his wearing tissue box shoes to Jim and Pam’s wedding. Kevin might not be the smartest of the accounting bunch — as seen by his made-up number “Keleven” used to balance his accounts — but is one of the most lovable characters on the show.   

Andy Bernard (played by Ed Helms) is known as the Nard Dog. He is an Ivy League graduate from Cornell and was part of an all-male acapella group called Here Comes Treble. Andy went through anger management training after punching a wall, starred in a Scranton production of the musical “Sweeney Todd, auditioned to be on “America’s Next Top Acapella Sensation,” and ultimately went back to Cornell to work in the admissions department.  

Toby Flenderson (played by Paul Lieberstein) is irrelevant.

Kelly Kapoor (played by Mindy Kaling) is a high-maintenance customer service representative who introduces herself as “the minority executive.” She spices up the show with her knowledge of fashion, dating, reality TV, and celebrities. Her toxic relationship with temp Ryan Howard takes over her life and gives her the one thing she always loves… attention. 

Here’s my Top 10 Episodes

  1. “Product Recall” is the most iconic episode in the show’s history. Jim dresses up like Dwight and pretends to be him, matching his clothing, office desk accessories, and mannerisms, which leads to one of Jim’s quintessential quotes: “Bears, Beets, BattleStar Galactica.” 
  2. “The Dinner Party” is probably the cringiest episode ever created. Michael and his then girlfriend Jan host a dinner party with Jim, Pam, Angela, and Andy, but all goes wrong from the start. Michael and Jane end up fighting the whole night, leaving their guests in a truly awkward position. 
  3. In “Frame Toby” it is no secret Michael hates HR representative Toby Flenderson. Michael buys what he thinks is cocaine and puts it in Toby’s desk to frame him and ultimately get him fired. Michael’s plan backfires when he finds out what he paid $500 for was mozzarella. 
  4. “The Injury” begins with a panicked Michael calling the office after burning his foot on a George Foreman Grill. Dwight races to his rescue, getting a concussion in the process which leads to an emergency room visit.
  5. “Niagara” follows Jim and Pam and their journey to get married in Niagara Falls surrounded by all the people they love and everyone from the office. Andy Bernard tears his scrotum while dancing battling Kelly Kapoor and the staff dance down the aisle while Chris Brown’s “Forever” plays in the background. It’s the perfect flash mob scene
  6. “Goodbye Michael” is probably one of the hardest episodes to watch as a longtime fan. Michael departs “The Office” during its seventh season. Michael leaves Scranton to move to Denver with the love of his life human, resource representative Holly Flax.
  7. “Threat Level Midnight” is an original Michael Scott production of a spy movie starring Agent Michael Scarn trying to defeat the longtime nemesis, Goldenface. Written and produced by Michael, it includes cameos from all our favorite characters like Michael’s ex-girlfriend Jan Levinson and warehouse worker Darrel Hannah.
  8. In “Stress Relief” Dwight sets the office on fire to prepare the staff in case of an emergency, but it ends up giving salesman Stanley Hudson a heart attack. This event scares everyone, making Angela throw her cat, Bandit, into the ceiling to save him. Later in the episode Dwight cuts off the face of a CPR dummy and casually wears it as a mask.
  9. “Fun Run” is the first episode of season two and starts off with a bang: Michael hits supplier relations rep Merideth Palmer with his red Chrysler car. 
  10. “Gossip” includes hard-core parkour with the three musketeers Michael, Dwight, and Andy bouncing all over the walls leading to Andy falling into an empty Vance Refrigeration box.

Most Notable Pranks

  1. Stapler in Jello (Season 1, episode ): The very first prank in the show’s history is when Jim puts Dwight’s stapler in Jello mold and Dwight is forced to eat it out. 
  2. Faxes to Future Dwight (Season 3, episode  7): While Jim is at another Dunder Mifflin branch in Stanford,  he uses Dwight’s stationary to send him messages from future Dwight warning him about possible dangers.  
  3. Christmas-Wrapped Desk (Season 5, episode 11): To get into the Christmas spirit Jim wraps Dwight’s desk and desk accessories in colorful Christmas-themed wrapping paper.   
  4. The Ultimate Guide to Throwing a Garden Party (Season 8, episode 4): Jim writes a book all about throwing the ultimate garden party which Andy ends up buying. The steps to achieve this great party make the event itself awkward and somewhat uncomfortable. 
  5. Identity Theft (Season 3, episode 2): Jim dresses up like Dwight and pretends to be him,  copying his every move and making Dwight think his identity has actually been stolen.
  6. Asian Jim (Season 9, episode 3): Jim hires an actor to pretend to be him and convinces Dwight that Jim has been Asian the whole entire show.  

And finally, The Dundie for Worst Character Goes To…

As the replacement for manager Michael Scott in season seven, Deangelo Vickers made an impression as a rude and somewhat insane boss. I mean, it is hard enough to replace the World’s Best Boss, but Vickers came nowhere close. Played by Will Ferrell, Vickers was a sexist, awkward, and cringy replacement. Being played by one of the funniest comedians you might think that Vickers would be a funny character.  I am sorry to tell you this, but nope. 

His unlikeable nature made him a forgettable character and made me thankful he was killed off in a basketball accident. His dry sense of humor and brutal honesty made him a mean and unlikable boss earning him my Dundie for Worst Character.