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The Office (UK)
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this sardonic British mockumentary skewers the corporate world, exposing the drudgery, tedium, and mindless pranks that make up daily life for so many office drones. Central character David Brent manages to inadvertently offend nearly everyone around him with his casual sexism, occasional racism, and nonstop pompous blather. Nearly the entire series takes place in the office, but there’s plenty of talk about wild nights out drinking, plenty of swearing (including "s--t"), and a fair bit of flirting and sexual innuendo.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
David Brent (Ricky Gervais) thinks he’s God’s gift to middle management, but really he’s The Boss from Hell. He wants, desperately, to be everybody’s pal, but he usually manages to offend just about everyone in THE OFFICE with his constant stream of sexist, racist, and just plain idiotic verbal misfires. Don’t think of him as a total jerk, however; his comments don’t stem from hostility, but from sheer obliviousness and a near-total inability to empathize with anyone. The hilarious "Britcom" focuses on Brent and his coworkers in a regional office of a large paper supplier -- could anything sound drearier? By showing Brent’s daily offenses against propriety and his coworkers' pained responses, the show documents the never-ending tedium and petty infighting of the corporate world.
Is it any good?
Gervais is brilliant as the clueless office manager. Steve Carell has made the role his own in the hit U.S. version of the show, but Gervais deserves credit for inventing a character who's pure blather and corporate doublespeak to the core. The series uses the “mockumentary” format, following the office workers through their daily activities and letting them explain their inner thoughts directly to the cameras. This enables Brent to show, in his own words, that his displays of false bravado and accidental insults are no show. His public missteps and private self are one and the same, and nearly everything that comes from his mouth is cringeworthy.
Brent’s coworkers are just as important, and the series is spot-on in capturing the little details of their efforts to make office life bearable. The unctuous Gareth’s (Mackenzie Crook) attempts to cozy up to his boss make him almost as annoying as Brent. And it’s hard not to feel for Tim (Martin Freeman), who’s clearly unsatisfied with his sales rep position -- and his life -- and pines for the receptionist Dawn (Lucy Davis). Viewers will likely see some aspect of themselves in The Office, making this a comedy with universal appeal (although it may make teens want to avoid the real world a bit longer...).
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about office politics. Do you think this portrayal of office life is close to reality? Do the characters seem real, or do they seem more like stereotypes of office workers? Would you like to work in such an environment? Do you think many people actually do?
How is British comedy different from American comedy? How does this series differ from the hit remake on NBC? Why was this concept able to travel well across the Atlantic? Why do other remakes fail?