Nine million nine hundred eighty six thousand minutes. That’s how many minutes, at least, people have spent watching and rewatching The Office. While the NBC series originally left the air in 2013 after a nine-season run, the American version of Ricky Gervais’ British workplace comedy continues to find new generations of fans from Netflix and cable syndication.
So what is it, exactly, that makes the show so rewatchable? Perhaps it’s the triple threat that was Mindy Kaling: actress (161 episodes), writer (27 episodes) and director (two episodes).
Originally titled “Goodbye Michael – Part 1,” Kaling wrote and directed the show’s 147th episode, “Michael’s Last Dundies,” which saw the Dunder Mifflin employees celebrating another facetious awards ceremony as an honorary sequel to the show’s classic seventh episode, “The Dundies” (also written by Kaling). Dwight wins for Promising Assistant Manager, Erin wins for Cutest Redhead and, like at the Chili’s from episode seven, everyone gets kicked out of the restaurant.
While the Dundies offer the show’s signature laughs and awkward pauses, the final moments of the episode (which conclude Steve Carell’s penultimate episode as Michael Scott) is one of the most memorable sequences in the show’s run. Without Carell’s knowledge, the cast breaks into a parody of Rent’s “Seasons of Love,” serenading both the character and actor with comedic brilliance (“You hit me with your car.”/”You helped me get off drugs.”/”I watch you when you sleep.”/”I forgive you for kissing me.”) and genuine adoration (“Remember to call or text or email … or call”).
Audiences, too, appreciate Kaling’s indelible mark on a workplace comedy seemingly more popular now than its original run on primetime. It still has viewers of all ages meeting in one place—conference room, five minutes.
Brigid Presecky is the Vice President and Managing Editor of FF2 Media, an online media company for female film critics, supporting the work of female writers and directors. She assigns, edits and publishes work celebrating women artists, acting as a liaison between writers and readers.