The Office is TV’s finest example of a full-blown Hobbesian state of nature (hey, you waste education your way…) — and, with lead-in My Name Is Earl, forms the most reliably funny hour in prime time. In The Office, in spite of a litany of rules, ”society” is one layoff or pay cut away from bloody chaos.
Now in its second season, The Office mines most of its humor from nominal branch head Michael (The 40 Year-Old Virgin‘s Steve Carell), who this week shoves aside women and children to save his own hide when a fire alarm goes off. Okay, the children part isn’t true, but the point is, it’s shove or be shoved on The Office. You can try prayer, but you’ll just get God’s answering service.
This show would be unwatchable if it were just 22 minutes of pathological torture. It’s the pathos that makes us care: the unacknowledged ardor between Jim and Pam (John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer); Michael’s constant attempts to score cool points; Dwight’s…well, just Dwight. But the undeniable message is that the best way to serve your fellow man is to leave him the heck alone.