With the start of 2021 came the moment we all dreaded for so long: The Office has officially made its grand exit from Netflix.
Now, the only option for streaming the beloved sitcom is an NBC-owned service that, let’s be honest here, no one is actually going to try.
With the absence of the Dunder Mifflin gang, Netflix users will have to turn to another sitcom to get the fix of dry humor and chaos that The Office leaves behind. However, there’s a big piece missing, as The Office’s partner-in-crime Parks and Recreation dipped from Netflix last year (as if 2020 didn’t cause us enough pain).
As we wallow in the void left behind by producer Michael Schur’s greatest hits, it feels like a good time to put them at the forefront of another Filmnetic Face-off to answer the age-old, highly-debated question: is The Office or Parks and Recreation the better TV show?
By Season 1, Episode 2 of The Office (yep – good ole’ “Diversity Day”), it became instantly clear that the show would leave a long-lasting impact on TV audiences with its dry, borderline-uncomfortable humor and cast of oddball characters, led by the always-entertaining Steve Carrell, who was robbed of an Emmy for his performance as Michael Scott. By Season 2, arguably one of the show’s strongest seasons, there was no turning back.
Let’s be clear here: the humor of The Office is not for everyone. It’s one of those love-it-or-hate-it things. Nonetheless, it’s rare to see the show swing and miss when trying to get a laugh out of audiences. Whether it’s Michael forcing his employees to play a murder mystery dinner party game to distract them from possible bankruptcy, or Dwight’s infamous attempt at a fire drill, The Office knows how to be outrageous without being entirely unbelievable.
What The Office did correctly was go beyond simply throwing over-the-top humor at audiences. By presenting the show in a documentary-style format, where characters could “interact” with viewers in a way, the show was able to create a deeper sense of attachment to the Dunder Mifflin team. Viewers feel as if they are actually watching the characters’ lives unfold: every cringe-worthy, emotional, and heart-warming moment.
The show’s creators wrote episodes brilliantly, but the real success of the show comes from the way that it allowed its cast to simply play to their strengths and make the characters what they wanted them to be. It’s hard to separate Rainn Wilson from Dwight Schrute or John Krasinski from Jim Halpert, leading you to wonder how much of their roles actually involved acting.
Parks and Recreation
At face value, Parks and Rec appears to be a lot like The Office. After all, its early days of development saw it as a spinoff of its predecessor. However, Parks and Rec found its own identity in a way that sets it apart as quirky comedy with lots of heart.
Parks and Rec delivers its humor in a way that is eccentric and outgoing, making for the ultimate over-the-top, feel-good show. It has a unique gift that few shows possess: the ability to take utterly ridiculous storylines that would be too bizarre to succeed on any average show and turn them into iconic plot lines that stick with a viewer in the best way possible. Consider the thought of any other show making a miniature horse the centerpiece of an entire town, killing that horse off and then having the townspeople host an elaborate memorial service for the horse, complete with a rock ballad spinoff of “Candle in the Wind.” It’s a ridiculous plot line – one that only Parks and Rec could get right.
Yet, even the show’s most chaotic moments are balanced by the kind emotional storylines that almost make viewers forget they’re watching the same show that held a memorial service for a miniature horse. Parks and Rec knew how to develop and grow its characters and their relationships brilliantly over its seven-season run. From Ron and Leslie’s heartwarming “opposites attract” friendship, to Andy and April’s quirky romance that just made sense, to Tom and Donna’s infamous “Treat Yo Self” day, Parks and Rec handled its relationships arguably better than any other sitcom on TV.
It seamlessly put its characters through developments that changed them for the better, yet without stripping away the quirks and characteristics that made them so lovable to begin with. By the show’s finale, it’s hard to not to feel like you watched your family grow and change before your eyes.
Choosing between The Office and Parks and Recreation feels like a crime, but The Office gets the upper hand by a small margin. Its dry, deadpan humor is executed to perfection, leaving behind a legacy of iconic lines and moments that have stood the test of time for over 15 years now.
Carrell’s performance is hailed by many as one of the greatest TV performances of the century, with some hailing it as one of the greatest of all time. His performance is elevated even further, though, by the subtly brilliant cast around him, most notably with the likes of Wilson, Krasinski and Jenna Fischer as as Pam Beesly.
While The Office succeeds at delivering laugh-til-you-cry moments, it also delivers emotional moments that feel raw and believable. The fact that the show has steadily grown in popularity throughout the years and is adored by viewers who were mere toddlers when it originally aired speaks volumes about the impact it has left on television. There’s no slowing The Office down, and that’s why it takes the crown in this Filmnetic Face-Off.
Winner: The Office
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