Whether you cross decades or cross the pond, you can find shared shenanigans, duplicated drudgery, synchronized self-absorption, and facsimilied foolishness. Office politics and the cubicle life play themselves out in some amazing comedies which don’t try to hide that they’re dipping in the same office pool. From Peter to Tim to Jim, we feel a kinship and a frustration with life under the sun. For those of us in leadership positions, there is the nervous laughter as we fear people view us like Lumbergh, David Brent, or Michael Scott. In part, I think all of these feelings hold a kernel of truth, which is why we laugh at exaggerations (oh, you HOPE they’re exaggerations, don’t you!)
Mike Judge capitalized on our frustration as we hit the end of a century with Office Space (for a review of his film, click HERE). Now, Ricky Gervais has provided some inspired comedy that needles many of us right where we live, as the 21st century seemingly offers yet another “case of the Mondays”. The chief question with these comedies remains… are we laughing AT these archetypes, or WITH them?
The Office began with two seasons of a dry British comedy, totaling a whopping 12 episodes and a Christmas special. The Mike Judge influenced comedy even referenced Peter Gibbons with a wink and nod. When the comedy crossed the pond, changed the names, and went through Hollywood’s copy machine, lovers of the BBC show feared it would come out half as crisp. To be fair, Steve Carrel and crew have made a darn good comedy in their own right… so long as they know when to quit and go out on a high note. Time will tell.
Four episodes were watched with a live audience with discusion between each (if you’re an avid fan of both shows, you can listen to the audio without the episodes at hand, but if you’ve seen these episodes it will be even better).
(American) SEASON 2, EPISODE – Performance Reviews
(British) SEASON 1, EPISODE 4 – “Free Love on the Freelove Freeway”
(American) SEASON 2, EPISODE – Conflict Resolution
(British) SEASON 1, EPISODE 6 – “Selling Out”
Audio Review of The Office episodes below (British & American)