The original title of the book is The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s: An Oral History, but I figured that might be too long for the title. Anyway below is my review of the book that I discovered when I was seeking out something to read on my favorite comedy show.
In short, I loved it! I think if you are even a casual fan of The Office, you’ll enjoy the book. It’s an oral history, where interview snippets of cast and crew – writers, cameramen, directors, everyone – are collected and structured around themes that chart the Office journey right from its inception in UK to its culmination as (pretty much) a cultural phenomenon. I really liked reading the thought processes and all the big and little considerations that went into making the show, like the office layout in relation to the characters, the shape of the reception, the fact that it was important Michael Scott was good at his job, and seeing the original character descriptions and how each actor fit into it in retrospect, to name a few.
There were chapters on each season, some of the main characters, the camera, and the writing. There were chapters dedicated to reminiscing some of the highlight episodes (though there were never enough of these). I loved the ‘Rise of Creed’ chapter but what I loved more was the fact that there was a chapter on the ‘Rise of Creed’ in the first place! And it was amusing reading the initial reviews of the first season especially the negative ones on Steve Carell.
“The insurmountable problem may prove to be Steve Carell himself. He’s an amusing sketch comic but he comes across as an actor doing a bit,…Worse, he makes the character too one-dimensionally unsympathetic. He captures Michael’s delusions of grandeur but misses the poignancy in his mad dash for popularity. But then that’s what happens with copies. Inevitably, something great gets lost”
__ USA Today (reviewing season 1 of the US version of The Office)
To be fair, I’m not a big fan of Season 1 Michael either. But then, how the turntables!
This book ended up being like The Office itself for me – a comforting, fun space with a whole lot of heart that I want to revisit occasionally, and a constant reminder of Steve Carell’s talent. The chapter on Steve was gold. Hearing of different examples of Carell’s professionalism and talent from multiple quarters was so heartwarming; you want to love the entirety of this amazing character that has absolutely mesmerized you and made you cry with laughter, and the chapter was like here you go, don’t worry, you don’t have to put an asterisk to this guy, you can love the art and the artist with this one. And that was such a relief and joy.
“….We all knew he was number one at the show, but he didn’t accept that. He made it seem like there was no hierarchy…..He never changed. The show did not change him one bit.”
__Kate Flannery (Meredith)
I do have a few minor gripes about the book but I don’t even feel like airing them.
5 stars for the nostalgia and for initiating a rewatch.
Originally posted on Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4032213800