Potvin Newsly

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

“The Office” (U.S. Version) Versus “Office Space”

[Last one before I leave this week…]

Something that annoys enrages me is when people erroneously attribute NBC’s The Office of being a copycat of sorts of Mike Judge’s 1999 masterpiece Office Space. I’ve had arguments over this. I’ve lost good friends to this. I should stop carrying knives.

Mostly what I’ve found is that these talebearers are simply ignorant. They know not of The Office. The Office is easily one of the best current shows on television, but they refuse to watch it. When asked why, they simply say something to the effect of “That show is a fucking piece of shit. It’s fucking stupid. They’re just ripping off Office Space, you know.”

You might say something like, “Uh, they’re not.”

They will immediately and strongly disagree with you.

At this point, if you’re like me, a stabbing is inevitable. There is little else to do.

One time, however, in the course of a conversation similar to this, I was a bit slow getting to my blade. This allowed my opponent to state his case. “Tell me that the ’40 Year Old Virgin’ guy isn’t just trying to be like Lumbergh.”

My fingers loosened their grip. “Steve Carell? That’s not so,” I stated, matter-of-factly.

“How are they different?” was his rebuttal. You want a burden of proof? You’ve got it, asshole.

Lumbergh is the personification of evil, ignorant, impersonal, and uncaring corporate practices. Lumbergh is a boss to be truly despised, because there is no good in him whatsoever. He’s only a tool used by the company to facilitate its workers’ collective unhappiness.

Steve Carell’s character, Micheal Scott, on the other hand, is a very compassionate person. He’s loathed because he’s so insulting and unaware of his own inefficiencies and egocentric attitude. But the fact is he cares for his workers deeply, and never intends to ridicule them, though he does (by accident) with great frequency. This makes him lovable, albeit to a very low degree, and instead of cheering when he fails, you almost have to look away to save both him and yourself from the massive embarrassments that are to follow.

These were not my exact words, but these were the basic ideas I brought forth. Shamed, my counterpart said, “Well, I have only seen parts of three episodes…”

Massive ridiculing from me ensued.

But this made me think: Are all of the people who hate The Office do so because they refuse to watch it altogether, even to judge it? It appears that many who enjoyed Office Space simply cast The Office to the side and said “FUCK YOU” to anybody who didn’t. For all of those, I have compiled empirical data that states, “No, FUCK YOU.” I am qualified to collect and report this information because I have seen Office Space more than five times, and I’ve seen each episode of The Office three or more times. My credentials lay before you now. What follows is my gathered evidence.

1. The Setting– At first glance, I can see how one might think The Office and Office Space are related. Both titles have the word “Office” in them, and both sets of main characters work at an office. If we look beyond those obvious similarities, however, we find that many ruffles reside beneath the surface.

First, Initech is a software company, while Dunder-Mifflin is a paper company. You might think the difference is meaningless, but it’s not. Mike Judge was putting on a satire of office work in the 1990’s, and making Initech a software company made sense, as it was matching up with the times. Dunder-Mifflin is decidedly a paper company because it is thought that nothing could be more dry and boring that a company that specializes in blank paper.

The inter-setting involvement is key, too. Ron Livingston’s character (Peter Gibbons), meets up with Jennifer Aniston (playing Joanna) at a Friday’s themed restaurant. Peter spends tons of time outside of his office environment, be it going to parties, sitting at his house, or driving around. The Office is primarily staged in the office itself. When the cameras go outside, the plot reflects whatever special qualities the settings may possess. The writers use the ironically “unnatural” settings outside of the office as strongly as possible.

2. Plot– Office Space is the satire of your atypical software company, and focuses on the problems of a handful of characters fed up with their jobs. The Office is a mockumentary styled situational comedy the portrays the lives of its characters, who are often happy (despite their work). Office Space as a movie had to have a defined outline. The Office burgeons new plot developments with every episode, and doesn’t focus on any one character’s developments for extended periods of time.

3. Characters– This is probably the easiest difference to point out between the two. The characters are nothing alike, not even remotely. I have already stated my case for Lumbergh versus Michael Scott, but here’s some more: Things Michael Scott has said that Bill Lumbergh would never say.

  • “That’s what she said.”
  • “She’s not yo’ ho no mo’.”
  • “I did not go to business school. You know who else didn’t go to business school? LeBron James, Tracy McGrady, Kobe Bryant; They went right from high school to the NBA… So, it’s not the same thing, at all.”
  • “I think if I was allergic to dairy I’d kill myself.”
  • “Abraham Lincoln once said that ‘If you’re a racist, I will attack you with the North,’ and these are the principles I carry with me in the workplace.”
  • “This is an environment of welcoming, and you should just get the hell out.”
  • “I’m still the same old Michael Scott; New and improved.”

There are many, many, painfully many more examples of this, but they are too many to list.

Next is Jim Halpert, played by John Krasinski, who would be best paralleled by Peter Gibbons. But if this is true, then Pam Beesly (Jenna Fischer’s role) must be matched with Joanna, and this makes little sense. Also, Peter’s anti-character is portrayed by Lumbergh. In The Office this should mean Michael Scott is Jim’s “enemy,” but this is not so. Although Michael and Jim are not compatible personalities, Jim’s adversary is better found in Dwight, who sucks up to Michael. Dwight Schrute (portrayed by Rainn Wilson) is a fundamental character to The Office. No such character of his description is matched in Office Space; An outside chance exists for Milton, but this would be difficult for even Jesus to justify.

I could describe so much more in such great detail that I could probably publish a fucking book on how different The Office is from Office Space. There’s way, way, way, way too much information on it to put in this web log. If you truly want to know, you must indulge yourself to find enlightenment on the matter; Watch both Office Space and The Office (not at the same time, idiot!) and see for yourself.

After a thorough comparison of the two, you will find that they are nothing alike.


  1. “I … hate .. so much about, the things that you choose to be.”

    “Toby! Yeah!”

    “So what line of work you in Bob?”

    3 best lines period. Can’t believe you left out the Toby hatred line. BTW I’d compare Dwight to a mix of The office lady that says “Just a moment!” Michael Bolton and the copier. Rolled into one.

    “PC load letter .. what teh *&^% does that mean?”

    Comment by ohthathurt — Tuesday, January 15, 2008 @ 9:08 pm | Reply

  2. PSS. Office Space VS The Office was a misleadinig title. I almost punched the monitor into my chaplain due to the heresy and appertaining rage to such a title.

    I myself have never met someone who didn’t like “The Office” for such an idiotic reason. My mom just thought 40 year old virgin was lewd. Therefore can’t shake the thoughts of the “lady *&^%ing a horse” story whenever she watches Steve Carell. I didn’t watch ER so I don’t get George Clooney being a movie star. To me, seeing him on screen running the show only leaves me wondering why I should care. So I can pick up what she’s throwin down.

    Comment by ohthathurt — Tuesday, January 15, 2008 @ 9:18 pm | Reply

  3. I don’t understand your second comment at all. What is “misleadinig” about the title? I wasn’t going to say which was one better, I was merely pointing out the differences between the two. “Versus” can, and often does mean “as compared to” or “in contrast with” so, one could argue (as I am right now) that the title was not misleading at all. Suck it.

    Also I’m not sure how George Clooney plays into it, but nice touch (I guess?).

    PS: It’s PPS not PSS. You’re welcome.

    Comment by Jill Hater — Wednesday, January 16, 2008 @ 1:05 pm | Reply

  4. It was misleading. “Versus” means you’re pitting two in a ring and only one will emerge victorious with the others house fired and ravaged wife and children in the wake of it’s verility.

    Pitting The Office, and Office Space against eachother because, they’re so totally different, Is heresy.

    Your post was a rant on people who try to pit one against the other and how stupid they are. I agree, and therefore was enraged at the your title that made you seem like one of them, and I didn’t know a collective “they” even exsisted before the log. So for a moment, I was mislead, and had to keep reading to get on track.

    A more appropriate title would have been.

    “Only an Idiot Would Title Anything “The Office (US Version) vs Office Space.”

    PSS up a rope btw.

    Comment by ohthathurt — Wednesday, January 16, 2008 @ 7:24 pm | Reply

  5. It was only misleading because you harbor closed-mindedness that only allows you to think that “versus” has but one meaning; This is false. Check your local dictionary if you think I’m wrong. Your enragement was likely (though not necessarily) caused by your own ignorance of the English language.


    Comment by Jill Hater — Wednesday, January 16, 2008 @ 8:30 pm | Reply

  6. Versus:

    1. against (used esp. to indicate an action brought by one party against another in a court of law, or to denote competing teams or players in a sports contest): Smith versus Jones; Army versus Navy.

    2. much less used and mostly by canadian immagrants – as compared to or as one of two choices;

    Even if you can relate to the meaning of the 2nd Canadian definition, comparing the two offices is what you yourself decry in your post. You’ve got way too much text agreeing with me to flip flop on it now.


    Comment by ohthathurt — Thursday, January 17, 2008 @ 5:12 pm | Reply

  7. I decry calling “The Office” a copycat of “Office Space”, not the comparison of the two. The whole post is based on contrasting them and seeing their differences to point out that “The Office” is not stealing from “Office Space”. I’d call you a fucking idiot right now, but I think that’d cross the line from friendly argument into spiteful quarrel, so instead I’ll just call you a regular idiot.

    Also, I’m done with this exchange.

    Comment by Jill Hater — Thursday, January 17, 2008 @ 8:23 pm | Reply

  8. Jill Hater Says:

    “I decry calling “The Office” a copycat of “Office Space”, not the comparison of the two.”

    Jill Hater also Says:

    “Comparing these two is just like comparing apples to oranges, but imagine that the apple is really an apricot and the orange is really the murder of a child that took place in the year 1832. See? They’re not alike at all.”

    Jill Hater should have admitted by now:

    “I decry calling “The Office” a copycat of “Office Space” BECAUSE comparing these two is just like comparing apricots to the suspected arsenic murder of Napoleon Bonaparte’s first son in 1832.”

    I might declare as Jill Hater did:

    “I’d call you a fucking idiot right now, but I think that’d cross the line from friendly argument into spiteful quarrel, so instead I’ll just call you a regular idiot.”

    Comment by ohthathurt — Friday, January 18, 2008 @ 12:40 am | Reply

  9. [No comment in regards to the earlier argument, however Napoleon II died at the age of 21, hardly what most people would consider to be a child.]

    Comment by Jill Hater — Friday, January 18, 2008 @ 9:06 am | Reply

  10. I edited this for you, Double-D.

    Comment by Jill Hater — Tuesday, January 22, 2008 @ 7:40 pm | Reply

  11. Wow, that post was very thorough. I love Office Space, but I love The Office even more. Thanks for the fun read.

    Comment by Abigail Santos — Saturday, February 2, 2008 @ 5:33 pm | Reply

  12. I forgot to mention… this knife set is pretty awesome.


    don’t ask me why I know about this knife set. My friend is just really intrigued by them.

    Comment by Abigail Santos — Saturday, February 2, 2008 @ 5:34 pm | Reply

  13. Do you earn a commission for every one of these sold? You’ve aroused my suspicions…

    Comment by Jill Hater — Sunday, February 3, 2008 @ 12:52 am | Reply

  14. I was going to leave a interesting comment agreeing with the post and bringing in an interesting, parallel comparison, but after having read the comments in which the poster comes across as an ignorant, judgmental asshole, I won’t bother. I can totally see now why some people might say, “That show is a fucking piece of shit. It’s fucking stupid.” It likely has little to do with what they really think about the show and a lot more to do with being confronted by such an unfriendly cow.

    Comment by Foo — Friday, February 29, 2008 @ 10:02 am | Reply

  15. Wow. Score one for Dave, I guess.

    Comment by Jill Hater — Friday, February 29, 2008 @ 3:22 pm | Reply


    Comment by ohthathurt — Tuesday, March 4, 2008 @ 11:56 pm | Reply

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