How ‘The Office’ Became the Most-Watched TV Show

by Karsen Marczuk

Picture this, you’re sitting on your sofa with a cold soda in hand, feet up on the coffee table, it’s pitch black outside and the sun went down an hour ago. It’s 2005 and you flick on the plasma TV, scrolling through the channels when you find NBC, instantly clicking on the channel. Before you know it, it’s midnight, you’re wide awake and still laughing. You remember you have to work the next morning, but it’s too good to turn off. You’re watching The Office.

The show is set in Scranton, Pennsylvania, in the sales office of Dunder Mifflin Paper Company. This show does an excellent job of distracting people from real life by setting the action in a type of workplace many long to escape. The Office makes its audience feel better about their job and life by showcasing a workplace with an even more boring décor and average co-workers.

Season one premiered in 2005 and was inspired by the British series with the same name before coming to the U.S.A. Throughout the show, Dunder Mifflin was constantly affected by poor sales threatening the Scranton branch to close.

In case you’re not familiar with the show, here’s a quick summary of what the show was about; Michael Scott runs the Scranton branch, Pam and Jim flirt for two seasons until they become a couple. Dwight Schrute puts Angela’s cat in the freezer and in the three last seasons Steve Carell is replaced with everyone from James Spader to Will Ferrell.

THE OFFICE -- "Niagara" Episode 604/605 -- Pictured: (back row l-r) Ed Helms as Andy Bernard, Leslie David Baker as Stanley Hudson, Steve Carell as Michael Scott, Jenna Fischer as Pam Beesly, John Krasinski as Jim Halpert, Rainn Wilson as Dwight Schrute, Phyllis Smith as Phyllis Lapin, Brian Baumgartner as Kevin Malone (front row l-r) Oscar Nunez as Oscar Martinez, B.J. Novak as Ryan Howard, Mindy Kaling as Kelly Kapoor, Angela Kinsey as Angela Martin, Kate Flannery as Meredith Palmer, Paul Lieberstein as Toby Flenderson, Ellie Kemper as Kelly Erin Hannon, Creed Bratton as Creed Bratton -- (Photo by: Byron Cohen/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images)
THE OFFICE — “Niagara” Episode 604/605 — Pictured: (back row l-r) Ed Helms as Andy Bernard, Leslie David Baker as Stanley Hudson, Steve Carell as Michael Scott, Jenna Fischer as Pam Beesly, John Krasinski as Jim Halpert, Rainn Wilson as Dwight Schrute, Phyllis Smith as Phyllis Lapin, Brian Baumgartner as Kevin Malone (front row l-r) Oscar Nunez as Oscar Martinez, B.J. Novak as Ryan Howard, Mindy Kaling as Kelly Kapoor, Angela Kinsey as Angela Martin, Kate Flannery as Meredith Palmer, Paul Lieberstein as Toby Flenderson, Ellie Kemper as Kelly Erin Hannon, Creed Bratton as Creed Bratton — (Photo by Byron Cohen/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images)

The characters help make the show so enjoyable. Steve Carell plays Michael Scott who is the Regional Manager of the Scranton branch for seven of the series’ nine years and he effectively anchors a hilarious cast. The three main characters that the show focuses on include Dwight Schrute, played by Rainn Wilson, Pam Beesly, played by Jenna Fischer, and Jim Halpert, portrayed by John Krasinski.

According to Emmys.com, The Office received 42 nominations and took home five Emmys throughout its run. This included “Emmys for Outstanding Single-camera Picture Editing for a Comedy Series- 2013, Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series- 2009, Outstanding Single-camera Picture Editing for a Comedy Series- 2007, Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series-2007 and Outstanding Comedy Series- 2006.”

After nine seasons, The Office aired for one last time on May 16, 2013.  But not long after the show was finished, Netflix picked it up. As of March 2020, The Office still continues to dominate as the most-watched show on Netflix according to Nielsen, which measures Netflix viewership. In a recent Nielsen study, which surveyed streaming service viewership from March 9-15, 2020, The Office exceeded all TV shows with 1.23 billion minutes watched.

But what makes The Office so easy to binge watch?

First off, The Office is a comedy show which allows viewers to get comfortable with the show as well as the characters. The show is set in an office environment and for many, they are able to relate to it. After watching the show you’re able to make a connection with a character and you start to immerse yourselves in the show.

Another reason is choosing a show can be difficult. When starting up Netflix, people don’t want to have to go through each row and category to find an interesting show when The Office is waiting right there and you already know what it’s about.

Also, after watching the show multiple times, there’s still new things to learn. Whether it’s a joke, a character or even a whole scene, watching the show over and over again allows you to laugh at all the same jokes but with the possibility of catching new ones that you may have missed the first time.

Something that makes The Office different from other shows is the cinematography. According to nofilmschool.com by Jason Hellerman, published on Sept. 4, 2019, says the show occasionally goes handheld to give the audience a look into what it’s like when things go out of control. “Any time a character chases someone or they have to pick up and move fast, we get a sense of urgency and excitement.”

Also, the use of pans to help keep the storyline going in a natural way. In the show they use them for a joke reveal, for emotion and for reaction. The use of zooms and snap zooms are well known in the series. “Since the story takes place in reality, we have an acceptance that the cameras won’t always be in the best place to capture a reaction or action shot. That gives the zooms an opportunity to capitalize on anything that’s funny, angry, a discovery or mistakes.” With the use of snap zooms this provides the ability to shoot close-ups without making the scene feel cinematic or unnatural. This helps with being able to immediately push in on someone and understand the shot while keeping the viewers within the reality of the show.

"The characters react to the promos airing for the documentary that is The Office."
“The characters react to the promos airing for the documentary that is The Office.”

To wrap up, personally, I love The Office, I can watch it over and over again and not get bored. Unfortunately, in June of 2019, a tweet from Netflix said NBC has decided to take back The Office for their own streaming platform. The show will remain on Netflix until January 2021.  This completely sucks, but while the time remains, I plan on watching the show as much as I can for the next two months.

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