One of the things I love most about Sage is that I can text her my TV related thoughts (that are usually CAPSLOCKED) at anytime day or night. So the following exchange is not at all unusual at 11:52 on a Friday night:
Me: First ep of The Office done. ENDING UNACCEPTABLE
Sage: GOD DAMN IT BRIAN.
Me: Like. I can’t. It’s stressing me out. STOP BLOWING HOLES IN MY SHIP.gif
(That’s right. When I can’t USE gifs, I still talk in them. I am a completely normal person, okay?)
When a series is in the home stretch of its final season, it is inevitable that there will be some form of Eleventh Hour Drama. Someone gets a job offer/opportunity to travel to Paris and has to decide whether to stay with her friends or to go and forge a new path. Sometimes an ex-boyfriend comes back for the lead character after realizing that she’s been the one the whole time. And he comes back for her in Paris.
But do you know why that drama worked on shows like Friends, Dawson’s Creek, and Sex and the City? Because the drama surrounded on again/off again couples like Ross and Rachel, Carrie and Big, and the Pacey/Joey/Dawson triangle, and since those relationships were all unresolved at that point in the series, some drama was to be expected (if not demanded). You didn’t see Friends throwing some sort of Hail Mary out of nowhere “is this relationship okay?” storyline with Monica and Chandler in the final season. And that’s why I am more than a little perturbed at what The Office is doing with Jim and Pam this season.
One of the best things about The Office over the course of its nine-year run is the way the Jim and Pam relationship was handled. Yes there was a good deal of pining and angst, but once they got together, they STAYED together. And the relationship progressed naturally through dating, dealing with long distance for a time, getting engaged, married and then starting a family (though not QUITE in that order. Which made it more realistic, quite honestly). We never once doubted that Jim and Pam were a team. Soul mates. Madly in love with each other, even once they got through the ridiculous honeymoon phase. Yes, as any normal couple would, they faced struggles. But even then we never doubted that our beloved PB & J would ride off into the sunset together, with CeCe and Philip in tow at the end of the series.
And I’m not just talking about the latest developments with Brian the Boom Mic Guy. I’ll get to that. But something has been off (especially with Jim) ALL SEASON. The Jim that kept his desires to join the business in Philly secret from Pam is NOT the Jim who bought an engagement ring the week he started dating Pam. The Jim that obliviously played basketball with his childhood hero all day while Pam struggled with the kids (and therefore the whole office) having lice is NOT the Jim who meticulously made Pam a Secret Santa Teapot filled with inside jokes. (Yeah, I know Pam didn’t TELL him about the lice issue, but still. We the viewers knew, so we’re allowed to be upset okay?) And the Jim that yelled at Pam about messing up a recording of CeCe’s dance recital is NOT the Jim who cut his tie in half to match Pam’s torn veil.
Let me set the record straight. I thought the fight about Jim missing CeCe’s recital and Pam messing up the recording was a SPECTACULAR piece of writing. It was a completely realistic fight, and Jenna and JKras played it perfectly. It is SUPPOSED to make you feel like you were punched in the stomach. And I wasn’t even bothered that the fourth wall was broken in that moment. I loved it in fact. It made sense, especially when you consider that this crew has been with these people for many years, that Pam would turn to the crew in that very vulnerable moment and ask “What am I doing wrong?”. After all, she’s spent hours in confessionals pouring her heart out to the crew, and it’s very likely that Brian was “assigned” to her, so she has a friendly relationship with him and would turn to him after such a devastating fight.
But they didn’t have to make him so cute. And they didn’t have to continue the breaking of the fourth wall after that episode. Because that’s where it started upsetting me. The playful bop on her head from the boom mic to remind her she’s not alone. The other cameras catching him gazing adoringly at her as Jim voiceover says that he fell in love sitting across from Pam and that it was important who sat across from her. Brian defending her honor from the awful warehouse guy (I’m not saying he should have let her been attacked, but you know what I mean) and then getting fired and then saying he was here for her if she needed him. It’s all too much too fast and from out of nowhere, and it’s what prompted my text meltdown to Sage. And Sage hit it on the head when she texted me back saying “It hate that it’s paralleled with how Jam STARTED.”
And it’s true. Brian has been there the whole time. He was there when Pam was with Roy and Jim was pining over her. He was there for Jim’s Casino Night confession of love and the stolen kiss. He was there when Pam was devastated over Jim’s relationship with Ann Perkins…erm Karen. He was there for Pam’s meltdown on Beach Day and he was there for the moment when Jim finally asked her out. Not to mention everything that came after that. He’s been there and he’s been falling in love with Pam the whole time, the same way the viewer have.
Which means Jim is turning into Roy. Let that sink in for a bit.
WHY ARE YOU TURNING MY FLAWLESS JIM HALPERT INTO ROY, GREG DANIELS???? THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE.
I get that Jim is under stress with this new job. It’s hard starting a new business, and he has staked his family’s future on this thing taking off. And he seems to be overwhelmed by his life in general, which is why he is reverting to this infantile bachelor who doesn’t clean up after himself and plays video games with Darryl all day in his Philly Bachelor Pad. He’s neglecting his marriage and enjoying freedom he hasn’t had for a long time, even if he IS doing it for the future of his family. Sure, Pam is not doing their marriage any favors by not telling Jim that she is under an incredible amount of stress being alone with two young children most of the time. And despite Pam saying that everything is fine between them, there was still visible tension between them in “Junior Salesman”. But I feel like the Jim and Pam of seasons past would be willing to talk about their problems more than the Jim and Pam of this season.
The thing is…we didn’t NEED this flicker of someone waiting in the wings for Pam. The Jim/Pam storyline for the season was interesting enough already. Marriages can go through rough patches. Jim’s desire to change careers vs. Pam’s desire to stay in the safety of Scranton is definitely a realistic issue that a marriage can face. And we did the whole “Will someone cheat?” thing LAST season with vile Cathy throwing herself at Jim all the time. So basically, I need them to cool it with Brian thing. We have ten episodes of The Office left and we ALL know that Jim and Pam are endgame. SO STOP MESSING WITH THEM PLEASE.
If they aren’t endgame, the entire fandom will burn Utica to the ground and that’s a fact.
Also, Greg Daniels? If this is how you wanted me to get re-invested in your show, then congratulations, sir. It worked.
What about you, fellow Office fans? How are you being affected by the Jim/Pam drama?