Archive for July 30th, 2017


by Robert Hornak

Weird to think, but in the late ’90s, Ricky Gervais was Stephen Merchant’s boss at the London radio station Xfm. In a prime example of life imitating future art, Gervais claims he lied to get his job as head of communications and needed someone around who actually knew what they were doing, and Merchant’s application was the first that looked reasonably good. “You’ve charmed me,” I can hear him saying to Merchant in the interview. The squat boss and his lanky assistant were fast friends, their bond being comedy… and comedic ambition. Later, Merchant made a short film for his BBC production course that featured a game Gervais as a sniveling, loutish boss. BBC saw it, commissioned a pilot, and The Office was born. Not a hit at first, it would eventually win BAFTAs and spin itself off into multiple international versions, including the American iteration, which barreled through nine successful seasons. Yet even after the world consumed it, then reconstituted it into its various images, the British original still stands as the greatest, purest examination of its themes, namely negotiating in realistic terms that critical gap between the tedium we must endure to sustain our lives and the relationships to be mined from the perfect strangers who populate that tedium.


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