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'The Office' Shows Even TV Romance Isn't Picture-Perfect
Danny Feld / NBC

'The Office' Shows Even TV Romance Isn't Picture-Perfect


May 16 2013
How Jim and Pam's struggling marriage saved the show's final season.

For me, it wasn't love at first sight. The first time I ever watched The Office, the scenes felt awkward and the staff of Dunder Mifflin seemed weird. But it didn't take long before I fell for those quirky characters, and I've been watching ever since.

Sure, The Office has been through its ups and downs (most notably, the departure of Steve Carrell as Michael Scott), but in its ninth and final season the show has gained momentum by way of two characters whose relationship hooked us from the very beginning: Jim Halpert and Pam Beesly.

Ever since the two exchanged witty flirtations during Season 1, viewers have been rooting for them. We watched as the two fell in love, married, and had children together. Then in this final season, we got a rare look at the strains placed on a marriage by shifting life circumstances.

Although Jim and Pam have a beautiful love story, it is their endurance that sets them apart. In today's pop culture, we don't typically see the "ever after" of a fictional couple's story. Once two lovers overcome adversity and finally unite, we are left to assume that the rest will just work itself out. Nevermind that their relationship was founded on deception (as in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Hitch, or Failure to Launch), nevermind that he was once a serial philanderer (Two Weeks Notice, What Women Want, and Crazy, Stupid Love), and nevermind that neither he nor she has a clue about healthy communication (The Proposal, The Ugly Truth, and Sweet Home Alabama). If they get together before the credits hit, we easily forget the complicating factors and celebrate the happy ending.

In this regard, TV doesn't fare much better than movies. Series finales often end with a wedding, or the promise of one to come. But Season 9 of The Office offered a refreshing change of pace and a much fuller picture of marriage. Jim and Pam are a great match and they are truly committed to each other, but happiness hasn't come easily. Their marriage is tested by the pressures of career and family, and viewers were left to wonder if the relationship would collapse.

What makes the Halperts' struggle compelling is that it was inspired not by TV tropes, but real life. The actor who plays Jim, John Krasinski, watched his brother endure the marital strain of work-related travel and pitched the scenario to the show's creator, Greg Daniels. Consequently, Jim took a job in Philadelphia while Pam continued to work at Dunder Mifflin, and the two were long-distance for the majority of Season 9.

From: May 2013

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