The workplace sitcom is more popular than ever. During the coronavirus lockdowns of 2020, US audiences streamed 57 billion minutes of the American version of The Office. Having only watched its UK counterpart, I used my newfound downtime to stream those nine seasons, too, along with the seven seasons of Parks and Recreation, set in the local government offices of a fictional Indiana town, and the most recent seasons of cop comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
In a time where many of us have been siloed at home, cut off from the trivial and often annoying interactions of the workplace, there was a strange comfort in watching a comedically heightened version of these spaces and the characters that populate them. Here is work without the labour, these shows seem to say. It is a space that, while often boring, ultimately enriches our lives through social interaction – making all those hours spent behind the desk eminently worth it.
That’s all well and good for a dose of escapism, but for most of us it doesn’t ring true. We know that work is labour – emotional, mental and physical – and that it is a necessity we are chained to in order to make money. Life tells us that work is a slog; it is a means to the weekend.
Read the feature in the Guardian.
[This piece was published on 03/05/21]