Hello readers. It’s been a while since I have written to you all here on TheTwoCents, and it’s been long overdue. I write to you in the midst of an emotional roller coaster. You see, I haven’t just been trying to prepare myself for the finale of The Office, but I am getting married next weekend.
So, while Angela and Dwight were planning their wedding, I was doing the same. But the wedding is a story for another time, for now, let’s talk about the emotion of last night shall we?
Well, even if “we” don’t, I’m going to anyway. It’s how I roll.
Yes, I know. The show limped to the finish line. I’ve been one of many critics who have been disappointed in The Office, for the most part, for the past few seasons. I use the word disappointed on purpose. I didn’t think the show was bad – even at its worst it was better than most on TV. But as a person who fell deeply in love with the show in the first 4 seasons, when the show went bad it hurt like a fight with your significant other.
In the past few weeks, the writers and cast found their stride again. They remembered to make the show about the people and not so much about going for the easy joke. Just as we were falling in love all over again, they left us.As Creed sat in the middle of the group and played and sang, we all were in that circle with them. That finale was as much for the cast and crew as it was for us fans.
I know that a TV critic is supposed to stay impartial to things, but I never made any promises to do that, especially not with The Office – the show that made this site (now read by nearly 2 million people a year) a possibility.
Venture back with me a bit. I sat in a night-school college classroom in 2006 and was tasked with creating a website about something I have a strong interest in. I racked my brain and wondered how much I could really use a website for discussing community theater or the greatness of Don Mattingly. Then Jim stood on the top deck of the Booze Cruise with Pam and there were these 20 seconds of silence. 20 seconds of fans all around the world WILLING Jim to say the words he’s dying to say. The words we were dying to say. The words, that if we were in the same position, wouldn’t have been able to say either. Pam smiled and walked away. The moment had passed.
I called, texted, emailed and MySpaced (yeah, really) everyone I knew about this moment. We all chatted about it and shared our thoughts. We all chimed in.
And TheTwoCents was born.
This is what I loved. This is what I wanted to do. I wanted a place where moments like this could be captured and the public could say how they feel. TheTwoCents became that place, and The Office was at the very heart of it.
What started as a night-school project has gone through many different ideas. A pop culture blog, a movie and TV blog and finally where it is today – all TV, all the time. In those early days we were all about The Office and they in turn launched the site, and myself, into a new world.
My very first celebrity interview was with Melora Hardin (Jan). My very first ‘Hollywood lunch’ was with Bobby Ray Shafer (Bob Vance) at a little cafe.My very first VIP treatment was at the 2007 Office Convention in Scranton where I was able to be an ‘insider’. I knew TheTwoCents was going to work when I offered a TwoCents pin to Angela Kinsey at the convention and she said “KP!!” before I even got to introduce myself. I even got to speak on a panel with other Office bloggers at the Convention. Along with my good friend Donna from LifeinTheOffice.com and Tanster from OfficeTally (who was IN and spoke in the finale!!) we sat with Brian Baumgartner (Kevin), Kate Flannery (Meredith) and Andy Buckley (David Wallace) and spoke with the fans.
At Casino Night at the Convention, I played poker with Ed Helms (Andy) and watched an impromptu concert put on by Craig Robinson (Darryl) who busted out Creep by Radiohead! I was in a world that I helped create. The Office Universe was all around us now.
The best part of the Convention was the love between the fans and the cast. We all knew each other, having just met. It was a bonding experience with so many but most especially with my staff photographer – who just happened to be my sister-in-law. We still sit and talk about the memories of that special weekend as if it was yesterday. I never would have put attend a sitcom television fan convention in Scranton, PA on my bucket list, but I would consider it a top 5 life event to this day!
The stars of the show wanted to be with the fans. That’s what made The Office so great. They were available. Accessible. Starting out, before getting in with network conference calls and dealing with publicists, these people spoke to me freely about this show that they loved working on as much as we loved watching. Along with Hardin and Shafer, I was able to talk to Baumgartner, Robinson, David Denman (Roy), Ken Jeong (improv partner with Michael), Kinsey, Flannery, Mindy Kaling (Kelly) and so many of the guest stars that played in the show. Everyone wanted to talk about what it was like working on this show. I don’t know any other show on TV that was that way.
These actors, living their lives out in Hollywood and sharing their time and thoughts with a guy in his apartment in Connecticut made a difference. They lent credibility to myself and TheTwoCents. The Office made TheTwoCents.
As the site grew, I was on calls with Rainn Wilson (Dwight), Steve Carrel (Michael), Jenna Fischer (Pam), John Krasinski (Jim), Greg Daniels (creator) and more. I was able to sit with the cast at NBC Network Upfront presentations and work with them in a more ‘professional’ capacity. But it’s the early days of just chatting or getting a MySpace message from them that will always mean the most.
I look back and wonder why was my love so strong? Why this show? Easy. As opposed to much on TV, the show was human. While I may love The West Wing or The Big Bang Theory, I don’t see myself playing D&D with the boys or running to Capitol Hill with Josh to get a congressman to change his vote. But I (and most of us) could absolutely see ourselves in this office. I’ve worked in many a cubicle (I actually worked in the building they used as the outside shot of Jim’s Stamford, CT office). I’ve suffered through a Diversity Day program, employee birthday parties and Christmas parties, and some awful bosses. I’ve dealt with a new health care plan, attending co-workers weddings and trying to get the cute girl to notice you. This show touched a chord in me. I wanted to go to Jim’s for the BBQ. I wanted to attend the Dundies. I wanted to be friends with these people. My heart broke every time Jim and Pam were THAT close to each other, when Michael finally found Holly, when Michael and Pam said goodbye in the airport, when Kevin needed to ‘stay strong’, and so many other moments.
I could sit here and list hundreds of favorite moments. But, if you’ve read through to this point, you know the moments. You’re as much as a fan as I am. We have that bond. I may not know you – but we have a bond. We are family in The Office‘s version of a band of brothers.
Last night, the cast and crew said goodbye. It was funny, sad, emotional and above all – human. That’s why we loved this show and these characters. It’s why over 1000 words have poured out of me so easily this morning.
I can honestly say that I will miss the people of Dunder Mifflin. Does that make me just a little bit crazy? I don’t care. They were there for me for nine years and I’m not sure any other show will ever feel the same.
To the hundreds of people who worked on The Office and the millions of fans, I say thank you for being a part of who I am. I will truly miss you.
– Keith Padin is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of TheTwoCents.com, a TV contributor on WPLR radio, a Member of the Broadcast Television Journalist Association and an Office Fan Forever. You can follow him @KPonTV.