Truths & TV

The Office and ‘The Other’

Learning to love those who are different

There are few shows in recent memory that have the staying power and rewatchability of NBC’s The Office. Despite ending in 2013, The Office has continued to remain a mainstay in most households, regularly ranking as Netflix’s most watched show per a recent write-up done by Variety. The show is so popular in fact, that NBC is going to pay $500 million in order to get the streaming rights for the show back from Netflix so that it can form its own service with The Office at the forefront of their offerings.

Half a billion dollars. For a TV show that is now 6 years past its finale and nearly 14 years old since its original premiere date. That’s crazy.

The fact that The Office is so popular even today should not come as a surprise to any of its fans. Offering more laughs-per-minute than nearly any other show, incredibly engaging story lines, and a cast of characters that become less like parts of a television show and more like a part of each viewer’s family, The Office possesses an almost magnetic like quality that draws you in and refuses to leave you.

But what lies beneath the surface of the show, beyond the likeability of the cast and it’s ability to permanently implant quotes in your head, is the fact that it teaches us all one simple truth…

We are supposed to love those who are different from us. We are called to love ‘the other.’

the office and the other image 2
Essentially my second family

Philippians 2:3-4 states: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

And whether it be Jim and Dwight, Pam and Angela, Andy and Dwight, Pam and Michael, Jim and Michael, the entire office and Michael, etc., each character learns to–for the most part–genuinely love and care for each other. They stumble and fall along the way, as all people do, but by the end of the show it is evident that this rag-tag group of coworkers have essentially begun to live out what is preached in that verse from Philippians.

Now I am not saying that The Office is the ideal representation of Christian values in pop culture, and if you watch the show then you will know that those values are rarely ever a consistent presence. But what the show does do is highlight the fact that we can and must still care for those around us, regardless of how different they are.

Stumbled upon this strange promo pic. Pam in a pantsuit and Dwight with new glasses? Wut

This world is extremely divided. At least that’s how it seems.

Every news report or article constantly highlights only the extreme cases and differences between us and the other. The other politically, the other religiously, even the other when it comes to taste in entertainment. Marvel VS DC, Star Wars VS Star Trek, Lord of the Rings VS Game of Thrones, the list goes on and on.

We are conditioned to only see the differences and to define ourselves by those differences, rather than celebrate them and see them as a means over which we can further bond and learn to care for one another.

The Office shows how those lines can be crossed and how you can love the other despite, and because of, those very differences.

At the start of the series I don’t think any of us as viewers would expect Jim to be the bestest mensch in Dwight’s wedding, or for Michael and Pam to be having a tear–soaked goodbye. They were all simply too different and they just outright did not get along. Heck, Jim bullies (“pranks”) Dwight in the first episode and Michael fake fires Pam and makes her cry.

But regardless, the characters see through their differences and learn to love each other, and we as the audience do the same.

How many of us could serve to learn and live out that lesson ourselves?

All too quickly we assume the worst in anyone that differs from us. And while there are plenty of situations where truly toxic and harmful people exist that we should take every precaution to avoid, there is undoubtedly a large number of people that we simply do not give the time of day to because they are ‘the other.’

So the next time you encounter someone that differs for you in someway–yes, even politically; especially politically–try to remember that if you can get attached enough to a fictional character to cry when they leave at the airport, I can guarantee that you can probably care for someone different than you too.

Now time for The Office rewatch #17

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