sean complains about "the office"


I enjoy the American version of The Office, but a few things have been bothering me about it recently. To wit:

Documentarian ethics are being ignored:

I can understand when National Geographic producers don't intervene when a crocodile leaps from a river to eat a baby zebra. But the rules are different with human subjects. The people filming Dunder-Mifflin apparently let Andy Bernard wallow in the water for hours, even as he cried for help, and rather than rescue him, they recorded his distress. If any readers have a better knowledge of journalistic ethics, please correct me, but I think it's clear that this film crew is a bunch of assholes.

Blatant product placement is annoying:

There's no joke at all in the above scene: it's just a commercial for Outback Steakhouse. It's not even consistent, character-wise. The previous week's episode focused on weight-loss and the staff's varying attempts at healthy eating. This one was built around a "product integration" buy from Outback, home of Aussie Cheese Fries, AKA, the worst food in America. One week earlier, the show highlighted Stanley and his effort to drop seven pounds. This week, Stanley was stuffing his face with ribs as they went to credits.

From the NY Mag story, about a Toyota Yaris ad on Mad TV:

Showing the Yaris wasn't sufficient, said the rep from Madison Road. The characters must praise the car’s features: its roomy interior, its sleek lines. The writers pitched a spoof of a commercial, with a young couple making out in the Yaris, panting about its fuel efficiency. No, said Madison Road. Cut the parody bit. The skit should just feature the couple panting over the Yaris. They aired it.

I thought you were better than that, American Office.

Dragging out a romantic subplot only works when people like those characters:

Stretching Jim and Pam's courtship for three seasons: acceptable. Stretching out the love triangle of Dwight and Angela and Andy: unacceptable. When the annoying rageaholic a capella guy is the most likable one in a threesome, it's time to rethink that entire plotline.


The Outback plug was well integrated enough that I didn't realize it was placement, though that clip out of context makes it seem like it should have been obvious. I saw a commenter on another blog who noted that in context, the message seemed to be: "Outback: Sad people trade it for sex!" So we should be grateful they were able to be at least that subversive with their product integration.

I met with Mad TV's Dick Blasucci (quoted in the NY Mag piece) a couple times and he mentioned the awkwardness of their many, many sketches that had to integrate the Yaris. Adding to the weirdness was that the car's big ad campaign launch had not yet begun, so no one had heard of or seen a Yaris before. Thus the product placement stuck out even more because they were going out of their way to name-check a car no one recognized.

Andy is completely wasted in this love triangle plot. He was funny as an a capella loving rageaholic, but minus his rageaholic qualities he's just an impossibly credulous doofus with bleeding nipples and blistered palms, and it's not funny at all. When he first came to Scranton he seemed to be a match for Dwight, now Dwight can sucker him out of his car with a countdown. Andy's been neutered to the point of irrelevance.

Also, can they please stop thinking of reasons for characters like Jan and Ryan to keep showing up? It's just preposterous and boring.

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This page contains a single entry by Sean Keane published on October 16, 2008 7:52 PM.

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