Everyone has been there: Something starts as a joke or an offhand comment, like you tell a friend you have a crush on this guy, and then you keep joking about it and joking about it far past the point where it’s funny anymore, and instead it gets weirdly serious and everyone is uncomfortable because you pushed it too far and now it’s really awkward, but it’s too late to back out. Going too far and caring too much was the plot last night on The Office.
Whether you found the above situation oddly amusing or deeply unsettling is how you probably found Dunder Mifflin this past episode, which featured a nine-months-pregnant Pam training her temp replacement, the very cute and young Cathy, and growing increasingly paranoid that Jim thought Cathy was hot.
In the “Don’t Ask A Question You Know You Won’t Like The Answer To” school of thought, Pam knew that Cathy was — objectively! — very attractive. Hottest in the Office Ryan even wanted in on that. Heck, Pam even wanted some fries with that shake. But when Ryan asked if Cathy was single, Jim said he “doubted it,” leading Pam to believe that Jim was attracted to Cathy, and lying for her benefit. I’m actually with Pam on this one — “doubting it” doesn’t mean you want to date her, but it does mean you know she’s hot. She should have accepted it and moved on, but Pam wouldn’t drop it.
I’m trying to cut Pam some slack this episode. Overall, I think recently she’s been a lot less fun of a character than she used to be. I’m not sure whether it’s having her grow up and become less amused at office hijinks, or whether she just — by nature of the writing — had to become the sane, and therefore less fun, character at Dunder Mifflin. I know many have made the opposite argument about Jim: He needs to grow up and drop the stale shtick with Dwight. But a less playful Jim makes for a much duller show (see season 5, when he was temporarily co-boss with Michael). Of course, I find Jim objectively attractive, so that probably plays a fair amount into my reasoning. I’ve also never been nine months pregnant, so I feel like I’m in no position to judge this round.
Anyway, being a good husband, Jim naturally didn’t confirm Cathy’s hotness, and instead explained to the camera: “No, I’m not going to tell my nine-month-pregnant wife that I find her replacement objectively attractive. I’m also not going to tell my 2-year-old daughter that violent video games are objectively more fun. It’s true, but it doesn’t help anybody.”
At lunch, Pam wandered into the break room, where everyone was discussing Cathy’s relationship status. Ryan heard she was single, leading to my favorite group scene of the evening, where the whole gang could tell Pam was upset and all tried to make her feel better by talking about how beautiful she — and Helen Mirren — were. Phyllis told her she had, “that pregnancy glow” and Gabe — who really is continuing to be a favorite character of mine — creepily explained, “It’s one of the most common fetishes.” Dwight, of course, was disgusted by this whole exchange designed simply to make Pam feel better. “Helen Mirren was born Helen Mirenoff. You’re fake-salivating over a Soviet-era Russian.” Talk about an exit line.
NEXT: Pam and Dwight team up on a search for the truth