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Unpopular Opinion: “The Office” is Very Problematic

NBC’s hit “mockumentary” television show, The Office, ended in 2013. The show was extremely popular and praised by viewers and critics for its great characters, funny writing, and deep themes.

Even though the show ended four years ago, its popularity has begun to spike again. Recently, I’ve seen more and more GIFs and quotes from The Office posted on social media. As a person whose family has always been somewhat obsessed with the show and who used to be a huge fan of the show herself, I have to be honest: The Office sucks.

All of the POC and the one LGBT+ character on the show are constantly harassed and teased about their race/sexuality. The female characters are written passively and blandly, and for most of them, male characters are their main motivation. A serious abusive relationship between two characters, Jan and Michael, is glossed over because Jan is the abusive one, and when men are abused, it’s comedy, apparently. But the biggest problem with The Office is the main character himself, Michael Scott (not counting the seasons where he wasn’t in the show).

Michael Scott is racist. He repeatedly makes racist comments towards his coworkers, for which he is rarely reprimanded. He is sexist, and he verbally and sometimes physically harasses his female coworkers. He is incredibly homophobic; in fact, he even outed one of his employees, Oscar Martinez (who is also the only gay character on the show).

The worst part of Michael isn’t even his terrible attitudes towards other people, though. If he was just a racist, homophobic, sexist character, that would be fine; after all, there are racist, homophobic, sexist people in real life. However, the fact that Michael’s problems are part of his character and that we are supposed to adore and forgive him for these things he’s never even apologized for is a huge problem.

Racism is not forgivable. Sexism is not forgivable. Homophobia is not forgivable. None of these things are just “character flaws,” especially when Michael himself doesn’t understand what he’s done wrong.

Here are some of the other terrible things Michael Scott did:

  • Told a female employee (Pam) who wore glasses to work one day when she’d lost her contacts that she looked like she’d “given up.”
  • Gave another employee (Angela) an award for “tightest ass.”
  • Told Oscar Martinez that his “Mexicanity” was what defined him as a human being.
  • Called Oscar a f*g.
  • Outed Oscar to the entire office without his consent. In an effort to make up for it and prove that he wasn’t homophobic, he kissed Oscar non-consensually in front of everybody.
  • When a female coworker (Jan) said she didn’t want to discuss romance in the office, continued to pester her with compliments relating to her appearance.
  • Made condescending comments to his African-American employees, including calling them “ethnic” and “urban,” and pestering them about rap music.
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