It was announced Tuesday that NBCUniversal would be removing celebrated workplace comedy The Office from Netflix, striking a serious blow to those who have made liking the series an intrinsic part of their personality.
NBC outbid Netflix for the rights to stream the Steve Carell-led series, ponying up $100 million for all those sweet, sweet, ad-revenue-generating streams. The series will continue to stream on Netflix through 2020, but as of the start of 2021, fans will be forced to watch on NBC's streaming platform, creating a barrier to viewing for those who don’t have accounts for the new service.
The series, which premiered in 2005 and ended its nine-season run in 2013, has seen a cultural resurgence in the last couple of years, particularly on Twitter, where GIFs of Michael Scott screaming "No! God! No god please no! No! No! Noooooooo!" animate our collective suffering and the despondent state of the human condition, including our feelings about The Office leaving Netflix. That resurgence has sparked another phenomenon: people thinking that liking The Office is a meaningful personality trait.
This same phenomenon has occurred around the enjoyment of pizza, tacos, dogs, coffee, yoga, hiking, and so on. All of these things are wonderful (or not, depending on your preferences). However, considering them a discernible trait or a point of interest on par with, say, being a sociopath or having telekinetic powers would be incorrect. Liking The Office is roughly as interesting as being lactose intolerant. You wouldn't brag about being lactose intolerant, would you? Probably not, especially when the implications involve the person you’re regaling with your fascinating digestive stories will henceforth be imagining you having horrific diarrhea.
If someone pointed at me within a crowd and asked a friend of theirs, "Hey, do you know that woman? What's her deal?" and the best thing that person could muster was "Oh, that's Alex, she really likes The Office," push me in a volcano. If that's the most interesting character trait about me, then I have failed in my pursuit of containing multitudes.
The Office is brilliant (though let's be real—it should have ended when Steve Carell left the series), endlessly quotable, and undoubtedly one of the great comedies in entertainment history. But by no means was it a cult series that was unappreciated in its time, and as such, it has not created a fandom that binds fans that have felt misunderstood or alone in the world, like, for example, the fan bases of shows like sci-fi adventure Farscape, weirdo sketch comedy series The State, or the completely bonkers comedy Strangers With Candy. It was, in fact, NBC's most watched series even when it was in a ratings slump after Carell's exit. Liking the show is hardly unique, as is the case with liking dogs (hugely popular animals, big on the internet), pizza (literally named America's favorite food), or coffee (more than half of the US population drinks coffee daily). By all means, show your appreciation in cool and creative ways! Fans will find comfort and joy in the love you share for the series. However, if the appreciation of any of these things is the sole basis of your being, or one of the defining characteristics of your identity, perhaps you need to rethink some stuff. You know those people that love Disney, and have their entire homes decorated in Disney paraphernalia, and got married at Disney World while wearing Cinderella and Prince Charming costumes? They're not hurting anyone, and it's their life to live as they please... But it's still weird. There's a line, and you don't want to cross it.
As a new generation of television viewers has discovered the show, perhaps having missed it because they were small children watching Nickelodeon during its peak popularity, they have further expanded its already very large fandom. However, with the series leaving Netflix, not only will we likely see a spike in illegal piracy of the show, but we may also see a decline of people being annoying about making The Office their thing.
But probably not. It's far more likely that they'll latch onto another show they're only just discovering, like the far superior Parks and Recreation (which is part of The Office cinematic universe) or Frasier. Niles Crane was meant to be GIFed.
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