The UNLIKELY HEROES that saved “The Office” from being canceled

Every time I try to get a friend to watch “The Office ”, I always hear the same thing, it’s either:  I couldn’t go through the first season, or: I loved it but it actually went better after the second season. Now that I’ve finished the series and went back to the first season, I realized why I was getting those reviews, and after a little research, everything made more sense.

As you may know, the original “The Office” is the British version developed by Ricky Gervais, so, when showrunner Greg Daniels decided to produce an American remake, he was aware that a refreshing touch was needed in order to succeed, even with that in mind, the pilot was an exact copy of the original´s, and even when the next six episodes of the first season were different and had their own voice, reviews were mixed, and so were the ratings.

There were many factors to blame, but in my opinion, there’s a reason why remakes are made, and in this case, it’s simple: British humor is much darker, and even when the American version is built around cringe-worthy moments and some hateful characters, it had to found a way to adapt to an American and more optimistic audience, so this is what they did:

NBC really considered canceling “The Office” after the first season, but star Steve Carell had just finished filming 40-year-old virgin, which ended up being a success and put Carell in the spotlight, also in 2006, iTunes started selling videos, full-length movies, and shows, including “The Office”. People were buying everything that was available, considering this, NBC decided to give the sitcom one more chance, but this time many things would change.

First, Michael Scott´s character had an extreme makeover, not only considering that they changed his physical appearance, including his hairstyle and his dressing presentation, but the world’s greatest boss really needed to step up, because fans were just wondering: how is this idiot the boss? Are his dumb actions going to put the other characters we love in danger of losing their jobs?

 Therefore, producers told writers to make Michael a more “competent” boss; in addition, they asked them to change the endings of each episode, as we get to see many times Michael in a bad position at the end of episodes in the first season. A happy ending or at least a more enthusiastic conclusion would leave the viewer with the same feeling when leaving the couch.

Now, what about all the other characters? Well, even though we actually get to see the actors grow and mature thru the series, instead of changing them like they changed Michael, the decision was that all the workers at the office would just be 10 percent nicer to Michael, as we get to see many empathic moments later on in the season from the workers to their boss and vice versa.

Eventually, this bet worked, “The Office” went on to release 9 seasons and became one of the greatest sitcoms ever made by their unique mockumentary and comedic style. As a huge fan of the series, I was impressed when I learned this, wouldn’t imagine a world with anymore:

“Dundler Mifflin, this is Pam”.

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