The Office hasn’t been rebooted, but it is in the midst of a revival regardless. It’s been 15 years since the sitcom made its United States debut, and almost seven years since its finale ran, but Netflix, Jenna Fischer (Pam) and Angela Kinsey (Angela)’s rewatch podcast, and Billie Eilish are three of the culprits keeping the show at the forefront of pop culture. As remakes and reunions for beloved shows from the past few decades continue to dominate the airwaves, some have called for Dunder Mifflin to turn the lights back on and bring back everyone’s favorite (terrible) boss, Michael Scott. And the odds are likely — last year, NBCUniversal made a $500 million deal for the show's exclusive streaming rights with the goal of reviving it on the network's new subscription service, Peacock, in 2021. But would The Office feel the same if it came back today? Or would its punchlines feel stale in today’s climate, only to leave us feeling disappointed with ourselves for loving this show so damn much in the first place?
Welcome to Cross / Pop, where MTV News navigates pop culture's biggest questions with logic, reason, and personal preferences. In this week's edition, Department Coordinator Dan McKenna and Associate Producer Alissa Godwin debate whether The Office should get the coveted reboot treatment.
Is The Office still relevant enough for a reboot?
Alissa: The Office is definitely still relevant enough for a reboot! Have you scrolled through Twitter at all? Every other meme is from the show. Fans still quote iconic lines from their favorite episodes (“I’m not superstitious, I’m just a little stitious;” “Bears. Beets. Battlestar Galactica.”), dress up like Jim and Pam for Halloween, and turn to the Michael Scott “It’s happening” GIF every time something major is taking place. People love The Office, and in an age of nostalgia and reboots, fans would lose their minds to see the Dunder Mifflin crew back together again.
Dan: Sure, it’s true that The Office is still all over social media, but that alone doesn’t warrant a reboot. While all of us can relate to the general debauchery of The Office, that doesn’t mean we should bring it back for a 2020 audience. The most relevant thing about this show is the way men use it as a personality trait on dating apps. Sure, people might want to reminisce about their favorite show moments, but a lot of the comments and jokes made would be borderline problematic today. I mean, do we remember the "Diversity Day" episode? Let's leave impersonating other races in the past. Office scenarios are always going to be current and relevant, but it’s time to leave the stories of Dunder Mifflin behind.
Would any aspect of the show require tweaking to fit with today’s mentality?
Dan: The Office was pushing buttons even back when it first aired; I cannot imagine a world where Michael Scott could get it together and not be offensive. Do we really need to bring back “that’s what she said” jokes? Honestly, I don’t think the show would be the same, and Michael would end up a social pariah. Leave it in the past, rather than bring it to the forefront and risk getting the entire franchise socially canceled.
Alissa: Some of Michael’s jokes definitely would not have aged well, but they were never meant to. The cringeworthy moments brought on by Michael made viewers so uncomfortable that it drove home the point even further that whatever Michael was doing or saying (kissing Oscar just because he found out he’s gay, not allowing Phyllis to be Santa Claus because she’s a woman) would not be acceptable outside the walls of Dunder Mifflin. Bringing this character and his ignorant way of thinking back in today’s climate and pitting him up against someone like a woke college grad or a strong activist might just unveil a new wave of comedy that would open the eyes of many and bring generations together.
Were there any loose ends, anything left unsaid after the show's original ending?
Alissa: The show wrapped up pretty nicely, I will admit, but I think fans will always be dying to know what Pam said to Michael in his last episode. We deserve some answers after all these years. Additionally, as with any reboot, we want to know how the characters are doing today. How are Jim and Pam? Did Pam become a painter? How many more children did Dwight get from Angela? Did Ryan give in and marry Kelly? Is Creed still alive?
Dan: I agree, Alissa, I would love to know how everyone in the show is doing after all these years, but it’s difficult for a show to tie all of its loose ends up with a series finale. I do think that having a few unanswered questions lets the viewer make up their own narrative for the characters. I would rather be able to imagine Jim and Pam happily married for the rest of their lives than a reboot dash my fantasies. I can understand people wanting to know what happens next, but in this case it’s best to leave it finished and wrapped up with a bow on top.
What characters do we need more from?
Alissa: This is something none of the Dunder Mifflin employees would agree with, but we need more Michael Scott. We lost major time from our fearless leader in the last two seasons (episodes I can never bring myself to watch because it’s just not the same), and fans are dying to learn how his life turned out. Is he still with Holly? How is he as a father? Does he still keep in touch with Dwight? Michael’s presence in the office couldn’t be filled by just any regional manager. His unique way of bothering the entire office that taught you to welcome the distraction, his special love-hate relationship with Dwight, his longing to be close to Jim and Pam, and his overall affection for his entire Dunder Mifflin family — these are all qualities that proved how, beyond his inept facade, Michael Scott was the heart of the show. I don’t think a reboot could work without him.
Dan: Fans of The Office might think they want more from characters, but at this point they’re so worshipped, no story would do the fans justice. You don’t want your memory of Michael Scott to be ruined forever, do you? People just want to make their wishes canon, and anything otherwise would just leave them feeling unsatisfied.
Have any modern reboots actually felt successful and satisfying?
Alissa: Although it hasn’t come out yet, fans are living for this upcoming Lizzie McGuire reboot. It feels like a dream to get the chance to see what Lizzie is up to in her thirties. Whether Hillary Duff and Disney come to an agreement on Lizzie’s adulthood or not, fans want to meet new and grown-up iterations of characters they once loved so much. Fans want to see their favorite characters, in these new times in their lives, deal with new trials and tribulations, and be reminded once again that they can still relate to someone they used to hold so dear. Will and Grace, for example, did the whole reboot thing so well. Jack and Karen still made us laugh our asses off. And as a Friends stan, that upcoming reunion has me endorsing the whole reboot concept until I’m blue in the face. It’s only right that The Office follows suit.
Dan: While many shows have been making a return to the small screen, that doesn’t mean we should add The Office to the list. Sure, Will and Grace was a fun return to ‘90s nostalgia, but usually these reboots have shaky starts and barely find their footing before eventually being taken off the air. When a show is so beloved, a reboot will do nothing but pale in comparison. Rather than indulging a pipe dream, let’s save the disappointment of a reboot, and make some room for new, original stories. Who needs Dunder Mifflin when there are so many other, more diverse workplaces to choose from.
Reboots can be tricky, particularly for a franchise as beloved as The Office. If things don’t turn out exactly as the fans hoped they would, or if characters don’t grow to fit with the times, the show runs the risk of completely alienating its biggest champions. Still, it will never not be fun to see your old faves revive your small screen heroes — even if it is just for a brief reunion.