The Office series finale ended with the perfect talking head from Pam Beesly Halpert, played by Jenna Fischer. The employees of Dunder Mifflin had been followed by a documentary crew for nine years and even though they were just ordinary people, Pam pointed out, “there’s a lot of beauty in ordinary things.”
‘The Office’ said goodbye after nine seasons
The Office ended in 2013, with the plot picking up one year after the documentary aired, bringing the cast together for a Q&A session and Dwight and Angela’s wedding.
Steve Carell, who played Michael Scott, had a surprise return after leaving the show two years earlier. During the Sept. 8 episode of An Oral History of The Office podcast, host Brian Baumgartner explained, “Greg [Daniels, The Office showrunner and co-creator] wanted the finale to be a giant family reunion and any Office reunion wouldn’t be complete without Steve Carell.”
That small appearance by Carell, however, was shrouded in secrecy, with Baumgartner noting of Michael Scott’s return, “They lied to everyone else, including most of the cast, crew, and most significantly, the network.”
“The reason they had to lie was because they didn’t trust the network to keep the secret,” Baumgartner explained.
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Only 2 episodes left of an #oralhistoryoftheoffice !!! Today is episode 11: “It’s a Wrap” where we discuss the finale and the emotional ending of #TheOffice … And the great effort to make an old boss’ return a secret- even to NBC. “Michael… I can’t believe you came…” Check it out exclusively on @spotifypodcasts
How the idea of ‘truth and beauty’ was such a big part of ‘The Office’
During the Sept. 15 episode of An Oral History of The Office podcast, Baumgartner explored how Daniels instilled the idea of “truth and beauty” through all of the seasons.
Writer and producer Mike Schur explained how Daniels provided “phrases that were sort of the mantras early on,” with Schur noting, “The number 1 most repeated one was ‘truth and beauty.’”
“Greg would tell them everything should be true, it should feel real, ordinary,” Baumgartner said. Woven into that truth was finding the beauty in all of the ordinary stuff.
Schur explained how Greg “gave us an analogy for what the show was in the first season… imagine a completely paved parking lot in an office park, it stretching as far as you can see. And you’re walking across it and it’s a hot day… and then you look down and there’s a crack in the asphalt and there’s a single little dandelion growing through the crack. That’s what the show is… finding that tiny little tiny glimmer of truth and beauty and happiness in an aggressively unbeautiful landscape.”
Daniels elaborated on how that mantra informed the camerawork, sharing, “let the camera seek out truth, that’s the point of a documentary… and also not like a cynical negative truth. Where’s the beauty?”
Baumgartner explained some examples of truth and beauty on the show, “like the way the cameras barely captured Jim and Pam’s first kiss… when Michael fell in love with Pam’s painting of Dunder Mifflin, or when Jim finally gave Pam the note he had swiped from the teapot years before.”
‘The Office’ wrapped up the show with the perfect last line of the whole series
The Office managed to tie up everyone’s storylines beautifully and gave fans the ending they wanted, but it also provided a perfect final line, delivered by Fischer as Pam, that really summed up the entire nine years.
The line was written by Daniels and it tapped into his mantra throughout the show of “truth and beauty.”
“I thought it was weird when you picked us to make a documentary,” Pam says in the talking head interview. “But, all in all, I think an ordinary paper company like Dunder Mifflin was a great subject for a documentary. There’s a lot of beauty in ordinary things. Isn’t that kind of the point?”
Schur remarked that Daniels “nailed it” with the very last line of the entire show. “At the very end of the day, he sort of laid out his view of why the show mattered for everyone, through Pam,” he explained.
Daniels added, “It’s like saying that real life matters and real people are interesting so I think it was very connected to the whole fabric of the show from the get-go.”
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