7 life lessons from 'The Office'
The groundbreaking sitcom is ending its 9-year run, but before the office doors close forever, here are a few rules of the road from the show's story lines.
Mon, May 13, 2013 at 11:17 AM
Pam and Jim's relationship seems to have worked, but does that mean office relationships are a good idea? (Photo: Courtesy NBC)
After nine seasons of workplace pranks and clandestine romances, we’re finally saying goodbye to "The Office." The show was a comedy, but within those boundaries, it found ways to be sweet and touching. Thanks to a well-rounded cast, we got to know the real, flawed people who worked there — and in some cases, we even learned from them.
Here are a few lessons to take with you.
1. Keep your work life and love life separate.
This might be controversial considering how much people love Jim and Pam, but while their marriage endures, that's not the norm. Look around this fictional office and see the many failed romances: Dwight and Angela, Kelly and Ryan, and Jan and Michael are all examples of bad coworker relationships. Just because one couple managed to defy the odds and (mostly) make it work doesn’t mean that dating your coworkers is likely to last — and it will definitely be awkward at some point. (And if you pull an Angela and date two people in the same office, just assume they’ll find out about each other.)
2. Don’t assume the world stops turning when you’re not there.
Ed Helms' character Andy left the show for a few months this season so he could film "The Hangover 3." When Andy returned to Dunder-Mifflin, he was surprised to learn that everything had continued right along without him: Erin moved on with Gabe, and Andy was demoted to a lesser job and almost got fired for his response. Remember that the things you do — particularly at the office — affect other people.
3. Create your own opportunities.
When Michael started to feel marginalized at work and couldn't deal with the pressure from the head office, he created his own rival company, the Michael Scott Paper Company, and hired away some of his Dunder-Mifflin employees. Though the project didn’t last long, it gave Michael a boost of confidence and eventually helped him get the attention he craved from his Dunder-Mifflin bosses.
4. Don’t underestimate the people around you.
In season 3, one of the big mysteries was who would get the corporate Dunder-Mifflin job that Jan was about to lose. Andy, Karen and Jim all interviewed for it, but the big job went to – surprise! – Ryan. Though Ryan started off as a temp and everyone dismissed him as being too young and inexperienced, it turned out that he had an MBA and was more than qualified for the job than anyone else. Everyone in the office was blindsided, but they wouldn’t have been if they’d paid more attention to Ryan from the start.
5. Always have a backup plan.
Jim and Pam’s wedding in Niagara Falls should have been a sweet and happy day. But then Michael slept with Pam’s mom and Andy got injured and the big day is almost ruined. Luckily, Jim was aware of his coworkers’ potential to wreck everything and had a backup plan: a small, secret wedding for him and Pam on the Maid of the Mist, the boat that goes under the falls.
6. It’s never too late to chase down a dream.
Pam started out as a receptionist, but she had always harbored a dream to become an artist. Pam spent three months in New York City taking art classes. After she came back to Scranton, got married, and had kids, she still found ways to keep her hand in art and even got hired by Angela to do a mural for a public building. Though she isn’t going to be the next Picasso, Pam found a way to pursue her creative outlet and kept it going.
7. Be there for your friends when they really need you.
As much as Michael sometimes drove Pam crazy, he was a true friend when she needed one. Pam was depressed about Jim’s relationship with Karen and was on the verge of breaking down at her art show because no one from Dunder-Mifflin came. Then Michael showed up, bought one of Pam’s pieces, and told her he was proud of her. It was a sweet moment in an often-ridiculous show, but it showed that Michael understood Pam and knew that she needed support.
To help you remember these life lessons and get in the mood for the show's finale, enjoy this video of the cast's favorite bloopers throughout the seasons. (And don't forget this gem from Meredith: Always wear underwear if you plan to do yoga!)
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