Why everyone should watch The Office (U.S.)

There are so many reasons to watch this beloved TV show: brilliant comedic performances from actors Steve Carell, John Krasinski, and Rainn Wilson (to name a few), characters that you become so invested in that you cry when one leaves the show (no spoilers), and a relatability that hasn’t stopped even five years after the finale. And for those who have no clue what I am talking about, I encourage you to search The Office or peruse its IMDB page. But those are not the reasons why everyone should watch it.

As it turns out, The Office is a great way to learn what NOT to do when it comes to the workplace. I only realized this significance a few weeks ago during a discussion with a sociology graduate student at Princeton. We were talking about behavior at work as well as the various spoken/unspoken behavioral guidelines that keep the workplace a safe, productive atmosphere for all. But inevitably, people lose sight -- or just never understand -- what is and isn’t appropriate conduct on the job. When we turned to examples in the media of how people convey these guidelines, we came to The Office.

It is more important now than ever to learn how to properly interact and behave at work. Personally, I would attribute this fact to the digitalization of society. A lot of hirees, and managers too, have never learned or forgotten common sense in the office because they lack fundamental social skills caused by a focus on electronic communication. Consequently, a large number of people in the workforce require training on what constitutes proper office behavior. While the HR department might think they are best suited for this educator role, it would be more fun to learn office behavior from a non-confrontational, hilarious TV show. As such, people on the younger, less socially-inclined side should take note and sit down to enjoy some quality programming while absorbing a variety of workplace snafus: see why sticking to a Christmas gift price limit is important, see some of the pitfalls of office romances, and see why controlling displays of anger, among other emotions, is absolutely necessary.

Now I know what some of you may be thinking: I know workplace etiquette; surely I can’t get anything out of this. Unfortunately, the saying that no one is perfect applies here too. Sometimes it’s hard to constantly hold ourselves up to a mirror and keep our activities within an acceptable sphere; sometimes we are the person in charge, and it’s hard for the head honcho to be reminded of when he’s crossed some line or bored his subordinates to tears. That’s where the fiendishly clever satire of The Office comes into play. Perhaps the most immediate examples conjured are the hijinks of the boss in The Office: Michael Scott. While your boss is hopefully not nearly as crazy as Mr. Scott, watching someone in a position of power make a fool of himself should prove to be as humbling as it is funny. To recap, even those who seem to have office behavior down pat should watch the series. There are so many valuable lessons to be learned, that surely some will be applicable. And if even that doesn’t catch your attention, I urge you to remember that it’s better to be reminded of our professional shortcomings via comedic satire than via complaints or awkward meetings with coworkers.

So go watch The Office! Grab a family member, a friend, a coworker, or perhaps your own entire office and watch it on pretty much any of the major streaming platforms. Don’t miss out on the fun or the lessons, and save yourself some heartache when you or someone you know at the office is tempted to shout “that’s what she said!” Just don’t.