The Office isn’t your ordinary American television sitcom. Genres such as cringe comedy and mockumentary have been credited to it’s comedic style, but there are many love relationships formed within this small work environment. This allows for consideration that the show is not only a comedy, but also a relationship based drama. Cringe comedy refers to film that uses social awkwardness as the main source of comedy. This is true for the show. The genius humor and awkwardness Steve Carrell displays is one of the main components that makes The Office such a hit. He has also starred in a number of romantic comedies such as The Big Short and Crazy Stupid Love. The drama-comedy factor of The Office is what really sets this show apart from others. Relationships are the primary focus of the storyline in Season 4 Episode 14, framing the storyline for the rest of the series.
The Office is primarily considered a cringe comedy, but the conflicts dealing with romance and relationships suggests that it is also a drama. The opening scene for this episode starts with main character (Michael Scott) meets the new employee (Holly Flax) for the first time and claims he’s just found love at first sight. This would be the official start of a relationship that would last for many episodes ahead. At first, they start out perfect, two lovers whose socially awkward personalities instantly complement one another.
As the relationship goes on, we start to see a lack or disequilibrium in the storyline. Vladimir Propp, 20th century literary theorist, explains that there must be some sort of disequilibrium before a problem comes to a resolution in a narrative structure. Holly is suddenly transferred back to her old job, 6 hours away, and their relationship has to be put on hold for a while. Michael is devastated and even though they never technically broke up, we see the lack as Michael and Holly being distant lovers.
Next, Michaels ex-girlfriend, Jan, spills the news that she’s having a baby. Michael was with her while she got pregnant so this means that he is going to be the father. He now shifts his love towards Jan as he prepares for parenthood. Literary critic Roland Barthes made a theory about narrative, expressing the need for a hermeneutic code (science of interpretation). An enigma, uncertainty or mystery to the viewer, for this situation would be the question: is Michael going to be responsible enough to care for that baby?
Audience says: No
Michael: It’s not that children make me uncomfortable, it’s just that, why be a dad when you can be a fun uncle? I’ve never heard of anyone rebelling against their fun uncle.
We find out that the baby is unrelated to Michael because his ex-girlfriend went to a sperm bank without telling him. Upset about his situation, he says he will never find a love like Holly again. We are left hanging at the end of the episode, anticipating what he will do with his love life. The equilibrium is restored a few episodes later when Holly comes back to town and starts dating Michael again. We can conclude that The Office uses both Propp and Barthe’s narrative theories to enhance the effect of romance in the storyline, which is credited to the shows great success.
The Office embodies three genres of television: comedy, relationship based drama, and mockumentary, which makes the show extremely successful and unique. Many love relationships take place within this small work environment allowing speculation that the show is not only a comedy, but also a drama. Once the 4th season rolls along, The Office loses it’s domination of cringe worthy comedy and increases aspects of romance, making it superior to other American sitcoms.