Here’s the thing: like many Millennials who overly rely on pop culture “blankies” for comfort, I watch The Office constantly. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cycled through the show, always watching from beginning to end, never picking random episodes. Part of the palliative magic of the show is the overarching narrative: watching Jim and Pam fall in love, Michael’s growth from the almost unwatchable cringe of Season One to the boss who cries with Jim on his last day in Scranton, Dwight ascending from ARM to Regional Manager, over and over and over again. It’s deeply comforting.
I might not know when I’ll get to visit my elderly parents again because of a global pandemic, but I do know that I will be dazzled by the slow burn of Jim and Pam’s love story every single time I watch it, and sometimes I need to forget everything but that.
But even as a die-hard Dunderhead (my dad recently discovered this term in a bathroom reader and told me about it), there is one season that I positively dread during each re-watch cycle, and it’s not Season Eight, or Season Nine. (Yes, even with Season Nine Andy.) No, the worst season of The Office is Season Six.
It’s absurd that this season is able to fail so spectacularly, even when I take into account:
- It actually starts out great with “Gossip”! That’s a really fun episode.
- The aforementioned Seasons Eight and Nine
- How much I adore Jim and Pam’s wedding
- Date Mike and Recyclops, two of my absolute most favorite Office things
- The fact that “Murder” is probably in my top five favorite episodes
Despite of all that working in its favor, I still struggle to watch Season Six every time it comes around, and here are some reasons why:
Let’s get the obvious out of the way: “Scott’s Tots” is a 100% unwatchable episode. We all know and acknowledge this universal truth. On top of the positively supernatural cringe factor (laptop batteries; really?!), not even the subplot is enjoyable. Dwight setting Jim up with the employee of the month prize is so contrived; I hate it, I can’t watch it, burn it with fire. This entire episode is so bad, so unwatchable, that it alone could bring down the season, I think.
But it had help. Plenty of help.
My next huge problem with this season is the Jim-as-co-manager plotline. The entire arc feels really out-of-character and awkward. Jim, whose entire personality revolves around being a slacker, is suddenly a task-master as co-manager? I hate him during the “Koi Pond” episode, and don’t get me started on the sheer ineptitude of deciding who to give raises to. WITH BOSTON BAKED BEANS. Absolutely none of this vibes with the Jim we’ve come to know and love, so it all feels wrong on a deep level. Nobody wants to watch bad-guy Jim, and we definitely don’t want to watch incompetent Jim.
Pam’s reaction to Michael dating her mom is extremely hard to watch. It’s not that it’s not understandable that she would be upset, but again, it feels out-of-character for her to be so mean about it. Are we supposed to blame pregnancy hormones? (I’ll admit; one bright spot comes from this episode: Michael’s face when he sees Toby teaching Pam how to throw a punch is a GEM.)
Michael appears to really like Erin for all the episodes up until “Secretary’s Day,” when he claims that he thinks she’s “kind of a rube.” It’s simply a terrible continuity error. He supposedly dislikes her so much that he doesn’t want to take her out to lunch, which is so ridiculous because all Michael ever wants to do, ever, is go to lunch with his employees. It’d be like if Leslie Knope suddenly turned down a waffle. It’s just fundamentally wrong for the character.
Now for some random, smaller issues:
- I find the “Delivery” episodes to be way too long. They did not need to be a two-parter! Stretching these out just really feels like pandering to Middle America.
- Dwight referring to Isabel as “a bumpkin” is SO WEIRD. This is Dwight Schrute, borderline-Amish beet farmer with an outhouse, calling someone else a bumpkin. It makes zero sense. Later on he almost gets engaged to “an actual milkmaid,” in his own words, but gorgeous, normal Isabel is “a bumpkin?” Okay, whatever, Season Six. Go home; you’re drunk.
- Michael is so H O R R I B LE during the Christmas episode (when he gets angry about Phyllis getting to be Santa Claus). And I know the whole thing is that Michael is always horrible at Christmas and that’s the joke, but still. I find his Jesus thing funny for about one minute and then it gives me a headache.
There’s just so much that happens in Season Six that feels off. It’s not as much fun as the other seasons, and I dread watching it. Even “Murder” and Recyclops and CREED GRABBING HIS CROTCH WHILE DANCING DOWN THE AISLE can’t save it, which is a tragedy. Those moments all deserved better seasons. Kathy M-F-ing Bates deserved better.
All right, time for you to sound off. Do you agree? Disagree? You’re wrong if you disagree, but I’ll listen politely. Comment below with any of your Office Season 6 thoughts!