Why Everyone in "The Office" Is a Terrible Human Being
Sure, terrible is a strong choice of words, and nobody's perfect, but you might be surprised just how many transgressions the cast of fictional paper-selling company Dunder Mifflin commit. I love the show, love the writing, but even I tend to forget just what errors these screw-ups have done. Don't believe me? Here are the major flaws of everyone from The Office!
Michael's not the worst of the bunch, as he genuinely means well, but the longtime branch manager makes faux pas after faux pas, miraculously avoiding termination long after it's due. The show's wiki (don't judge me) even states: "He will continually make awkward, inappropriate, or ignorant comments during conversations with people." Michael has also expressed (sometimes unwanted) romantic interest in several bosses/coworkers including Jan, Pam, and Holly.
Michael's mistakes include:
- Ignoring Dwight's serious concussion in favor of his mildly burned foot.
- Knowingly dating a married woman (Donna) until his employees finally persuade him otherwise.
- Hateful (albeit amusing) behavior towards Toby. Some prime examples: Michael refers to Toby as the antichrist, gives him the finger, and claims he'd shoot Toby twice with two bullets rather than aim for for Hitler or Bin Laden.
Despite Michael's copious blunders, we're just getting started with hidden flaws...
Receptionist Pam is often regarded as one of the show's most altruistic characters, yet even she dabbles in deviance. Here are some of Pam's darkest moments:
- Pam cheats on her fiance Roy by kissing Jim (twice!), and many would consider her close friendship with him during this time inappropriate.
- Pam often partners with Jim to prank Dwight, and their practical jokes range from harmless to almost cruel.
- Pam is rather hard on Michael for dating her mother, first publicly belittling him, then hitting him.
- Pam tricks Gabe into promoting her to a fake Office Administrator position, and buys the silence of her coworkers who find out using extra vacation days or new computers.
One of Pam's pranks, designed to impress Jim, resulted in her and Dwight getting trapped in an elevator. While by no means a catastrophe, if you were her boss, would you want to pay her for the day that she sabotaged two employees' worktime? Well, Pam's no saint, but at least she's not as bad as...
Who doesn't like good ol' Jim? Funny, charming, and generally reasonable, many relate to Jim the most, and his will-they-won't-they relationship with Pam provides many of the series' softer moments. Nonetheless, let's review Jim's failings:
- A smaller sin, but Jim routinely pranks Dwight to an extent that would get him fired in reality.
- While she certainly wasn't stopping him, Jim knowingly pursues an engaged woman (Pam) for months.
- Jim lies about the length of his jury duty to extend his break from work.
In short, Jim has many on-screen moments of compassion, but detailed scrutiny reveals a tendency to manipulate and deceive others. In fact, a fan crafted a persuasive theory that he cheats on Pam with Cathy, which you can read here.
Generally perceived as a kind character, humans resources member Toby harbors deep-rooted self-esteem issues that occasionally emerge in surprising manors:
- Toby, jealous of Pam's attrraction to Jim, purposefully reveals their relationship to the office in an attempt to shame them.
- While Michael earns the lion's share of blame for their strained relationship, Toby has been seen vindictively enjoying Michael's pain. For instance, he lies in order to prevent Michael from receiving assistance for a burned foot.
- Toby pursues an uninterested Nellie to the point of stalking her.
If you're still not convinced, examine an intriguing theory that he's secretly the famed Scranton Strangler, offering an even darker look at his psyche.
Poor Andy can't catch a break with his various romantic pursuits never working out. For the first few seasons we encounter him, minus a few suck-up tendencies and anger issues, Andy's a pretty cool guy. Then, the last season hits and, well...
- Andy lies to higher-up David about his performance as manager to make himself look good. This gives him unearned vacation time, but (rightfully) causes others to resent him.
- Andy asks Toby to falsify information about his record.
- Andy ruins his relationship with Erin, then tries to sabotage her connection with new boyfriend Pete.
A final minuscule nail in the coffin, Andy is one employee responsible for leaking the story of faulty printers to the press, endangering the company's reputation (and thus everyone's career).
Know-it-all yet naive Dwight fluctuates between effective salesman and office nuisance. His belligerent and competitive attitude often rub others the wrong way, and he's performed some rather dangerous actions:
- Dwight stores a variety of weapons in the office, including a large survival knife, blow dart, compound bow, sword, and brass knuckles.
- Dwight purposefully sets the office on fire to test his coworkers' response in a crisis. Suffice it to say, they fail miserably
- While it's an accident, Dwight very nearly kills Andy by firing a loaded gun in a crowded room
- After being asked by Angela to temporarily care for her sick cat, Dwight (without consulting her) puts it in a freezer, planning to kill it with its senses numbed.
Beyond all this, Dwight is shown to willingly sleep with Andy's fiancee, Angela. Not cool, man.
Here's one I likely don't even have to explain—Ryan repeatedly illustrates his egotistical behavior. Prime examples include:
- Seeing him as a rival, Ryan (unsuccessfully) tries to discredit Jim and have him fired.
- Ryan uses Kelly's infatuation with him for casual relations, never telling the smitten woman he doesn't particularly like her.
- It's on Kelly too, but Ryan abandons his own son Ravi to child services.
Ryan's shown to treat individuals like objects and a means to an ends, showcasing his manipulative personality. He also develops an addiction to cocaine and steals a pair of bowling shoes from an alley he briefly worked for. Icing on the jerk cake, Ryan.
With her superior attitude and hypocritical mindset, Angela's already on thin ice in the morality department, and her poor choices further extend the issue:
- A small point, but Angela steals the power cord for a karaoke machine to make her Christmas party better than the one planned by other coworkers.
- The show implies that Angela has had some degree of sexual relations with her church's pastor.
- Angela cheats many times on her fiance, Andy, with Dwight. She also cheats on The Senator.
We have more than enough concrete evidence to accurately gauge Angela's character, but yet another fan theory postulates that she also cheated with Roy, Pam's ex-fiance, one more potential strike in a long list.
Who is the worst Dunder Mifflin employee?
What About Everyone Else?
We could further discuss the drastic flaws of less prominent characters, like the affairs of Stanley and Oscar, Jan's borderline sexual predator-like treatment of Michael, and the evidence that Creed has killed someone, but for brevity's sake we'll wrap things up here.
Again, I'd like to emphasize I enjoy the show. Chances are you do too. We want to admire these characters because we watch them grow, learn to love their quirks, and generally root for them. But by removing our rose-colored glasses, we witness them at their most despicable low points.
Still, their potential for failing make their triumphs more meaningful, and paints a realistic color of life: often painful, but worth it in the end.
© 2018 Jeremy Gill