With a new The Office tonight, we wanted to repost, by itself, the Office then-and-now comparisons we included in last week’s recap. We felt it deserved its own moment in the sun.
The transformation of Dwight [in last week’s episode] reminded us of a troubling trend within the show itself. While this episode showed Dwight being made over into a glasses-less, monochromatic tie-free aristocrat, The Office has to some degree been making over Dwight and its other characters over the course of its run. Characters should grow and change and evolve, but it should always serve the story. However, if you look at the physical appearances of the actors, they look more glamorous and polished now than they did at the start of the series, and not necessarily because the characters have improved their style. It’s a concerning phenomenon, and we hope it doesn’t point to the actors themselves, the stars of the shows, objecting to the dour, depressing style that defined the early seasons of the show and its progenitor. Behold, a side-by-side comparison:
Like we said, characters change, that’s a given. Their looks, their hairstyle, their clothes, their personality all change. We want that. We don’t want static characters. That’s lesson #1. But, at the same time, it would be disappointing if the appearance of these characters is due in part to the actors’ vanity. Are we seeing Jim Halpert or John Krasinski? The UK original was known for its gritty look, an anti-network sheen, bordering on depressing. And the first two seasons of the American version adhered to this (albeit in a less severe form), allowing for somewhat schlubby characters and grubby visuals (as much as network TV allows). But over time that’s changed, and the show glistens now in a way it didn’t before. And in some respects the storylines and tone have changed as well, gussied up and simplified. Now the show doesn’t need to return to its original look, throw out the new wardrobe and ban make-up. But it needs to remember where it came from. And where it originally was going.