By: Aaron Karesh | Business  | 

“The Office:” The Virtues Learned in the Halls of Dunder Mifflin

There’s no shortage of television shows that are based in offices. From “Billions” in Stamford, to “Suits” in New York City to “House of Lies” in Los Angeles, we have come to expect certain things out of certain industries based on what these shows portray. But life is not as it is on the screen; TV shows do not accurately portray life in corporate America. But there is one exception: “The Office.”

We’ve all seen “The Office;” if you haven’t, borrow a Netflix login and watch it now. “The Office” is based in Scranton, Pennsylvania and focuses on a fictional, regional paper company called Dunder Mifflin. Unlike the aforementioned shows, “The Office” comes pretty close to portraying office life in a realistic manner.

Ask any hedge fund employee or “hedgey” and they’ll tell you that while intriguing, “Billions” is not what their day-to-day looks like; ask any attorney or consultant and they’ll say the same about “Suits” and “House of Lies,” respectively. Those shows play up the glitz, glamour and cut-throat nature of corporate America, while, in reality, it is nothing like that. “The Office” on the other hand, shows what an office environment really looks like. Blatant HR violations and other cringe-worthy moments aside, Michael, Jim and the rest of the Scranton branch introduced us to true friendship, the inevitable time-wasting that goes on at work and the personal sacrifices people make for their loved ones. Allow me to elaborate.

Throughout the show, the members of the Dunder Mifflin Scranton branch have fun both in and out of the office. Be it the infamous “Chili’s Dundee Awards” or the Flonkerton competition at the “Office Olympics,” the paper-sellers are enjoying themselves every step of the way, building true camaraderie — no small feat considering their dreadful job selling paper in the Scranton Metropolitan Area. Another major feature of “The Office” is how much time is wasted. Now, in the real world you will be hard-pressed to find another Jim-Dwight relationship where all they seem to do is waste time, but even in so-called “legitimate,” “fast-paced” or whatever adjective is used to describe an investment bank, law firm, consulting firm or hedge fund, people waste time. Jokes are made, pranks are pulled and conversations are had, and you know what? That’s not a bad thing at all. Lastly, we see real people make real sacrifices for their loved ones. Michael left Scranton to move to Colorado with Holly. Jim gave up on his successful side-gig because it took him away from Pam and his kids. All of these portrayals are real, and they happen in every single office in every single city across the country. Yes, “The Office” is souped up in its own way, but at its core, it has a certain realness that isn’t found in most shows.

In “Billions,” “Suits” and “House of Lies,” we are taught that in order to be successful, you need to be the biggest, baddest shark in the water. You need to eat what you kill and be utterly ruthless. “The Office” teaches us that chasing money and corporate domination just might not be worth it.