Dear Dunder Mifflin…I Resign

Photo courtesy of
‘Dunder Mifflin, Inc.’
courtesy of ‘Marcin Wichary’

Dear Mr. Wallace:

I’ve been a faithful employee of Dunder Mifflin going on five years now. I loved showing up each week; my fellow employees were quirky, endearing and awesome. Even my boss, Michael Scott, was fun – if a bit clueless. He had his redeeming qualities, which made him sufferable through his more manic periods.

But lately, ever since the merger and that whole Jan fiasco, life at D-M has been painful. I don’t rush to get out of bed on Thursdays anymore. And I cringe now when I walk in the door. I don’t know, maybe it’s me and not you.

See, my boss seems to be suffering from a breakdown. He’s turned into a thirty year-old child on a constant basis now; I can’t rely on him to effectively run my business any more. I’ve not seen quality salesmanship from him in a while and I’m concerned that his focus is not on the business and our clients, but instead in this reckless pursuit of, well, everything else.  I honestly feel like I’m in high school again and I can’t take it any more.

My co-workers have also gotten more freakish. Before, I knew Meredith was a loner – quiet, affable but pretty much ketp to herself. But lately? She’s like some washed-up hooker eager for alcohol and sex and pretty blatant about it now, even exchanging sex for favorable supplier terms. Toby, the HR guy, won’t even address it – but then again, he avoids everything anyway.

And I still don’t understand why Ryan, that temp-turned-corrupt VP-turned-ex-con-turned-temp, is even allowed to work here? I know Michael’s unhealthy man-crush is partially to blame, but I also hold the company responsible. I can’t even leave my briefcase out with him around because I’m concerned he’ll steal it and go buy a thimble of blow.

We won’t discuss Dwight. I’ve been told by Toby you have several cartons of memos on him (or by him?) and frankly, it’s all true. All of it.

So I’m leaving. I have to. When it gets to the point where the office is nothing but a fun house freakshow, where no real work gets done but apparently everyone’s laundry is out for all to see and play with, it’s just not a worthwhile investment in my time and talent. Consider this my notice; I gave two weeks already and there’s no changing my mind.

I hope D-M survives this recession. But until you fix that Scranton branch, I highly doubt it.

I’d wish you luck…but I think Kevin ate it.

Sincerely,

Me

I was a big fan of The Office. (The US version, in case you wondered.) The hijinks at this mediocre company, the cast of characters – it was all a great blend of comedy that was very relatable to events and attitudes I myself have witnessed and experienced.

But not anymore.

Lately, I’ve found myself resistant to watching it, letting several episodes pile up on the DVR, when before I couldn’t wait to watch. I think the slide started sometime last season, when Michael (the boss) began acting more and more like a whiney, bratty kid and less like the confused but redeemable moron he was. Seasons 2 and 3 remain the pinnacle of the show, in my opinion, and largely because of his innocent stupidity and redeeming value when the going got tough.

Now? It breaks the realm of believability. Every week, it’s more and more ‘over the top’ in terms of how Michael acts. No offense to Steve Carrell’s acting skill – he’s a great actor of both spoken and physical comedy – but the writers have taken Michael’s character too far. It’s like each week has become a “what doesn’t Michael know now?” or “what stupid worldview does Michael have tonight?” moment, coupled with his inane antics to ‘rectify’ the situation like he’s an overgrown ten year-old child. Repeatedly.

I can’t take that any more. It overshadows the paltry story arcs that remain – the unconvoluted ones – and frankly, makes me cringe way too much per episode. Don’t get me wrong, ‘cringe-worthy’ television is okay, but in small doses. The Office makes it 20 minutes of ‘cringe-worthy’ showiness that is less funny and more about me surviving the episode without being highly stressed-out and irritated.

It’s interesting to see, with that admission, how my taste in television has changed. I find more and more now that I depend on Netflix to provide me visual entertainment; I can count on one hand how many shows I look forward to over the course of a year – and over half of them are on the USA Network at the moment. They’re all shows with depth of character and a story that arcs the season, as well as each episode. I like that – it mirrors my taste in books and, more interestingly, my writing style. I love crafting long-ranging stories (most of what I do for BattleTech is just that) and building characters from it; it’s no surprise that my taste in television reflects that now.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love the silly and inane – witness the fact that I’ve devoured the entire first season of Animaniacs already on Netflix. But those are small doses of laughter, taken at appointed times, like a nice chocolate bar after a good meal. That was what The Office was for me on Thursday nights.

I just can’t live on a diet of chocolate for so long without getting sick.

So farewell, Michael, Jim, Pam, Dwight and the rest. I’ll enjoy my Season 2 & 3 DVDs and the occasional rerun of your escapades on TBS. But you can continue your insane, unreal story without me.

It was fun while it lasted.

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3 thoughts on “Dear Dunder Mifflin…I Resign

  1. Well put. Just one of the many reasons I dropped cable when I moved out here. You also hit the nail on the head with the “cringe-worthy” note. That is one of the main reasons I can’t enjoy shows like “Curb Your Enthusiasm”. I spend the whole time cringing and feeling bad for people to the point where I want to start yelling at the TV. If I need to add to my personal stress level (I don’t), I’ll take on another project and not lose my mind watching “comedy”.

  2. Is this about that TV show on NBC that I don’t get? The one that sorely needs a laugh-track?

  3. Well, Ben, I never watched it during those early seasons, and when I did take your advice and check it out, I think those halcyon days were already past. I never cared for it, and for me NBC has not had Thursday shows worth watching since spring 1998. There are not really any comedies on right now that appeal to me. How I Met Your Mother season 4 was terrible; The Big Bang Theory has its moments, but again, that show is more about over-the-top caricatures of academics than anything realistic or even stereotypical.

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