The Office: US vs UK

No one expects a paper company to be funny, but the The Office has done just that. With popular series in both the U.K. and America, the show has shed a new light on the dynamics of an office. In 2001, the British version launched on BBC and did not receive the desired ratings, despite the fact that it has now become a hit show in the country.

“The spirit of the British show is that the reality of office life is that it can be like a prison,” Greg Daniels, co-executive producer of the U.S. version, said to Associated Press. “You don’t get to choose who you are sitting next to, so you have to deal with characters who are irritating.”

The inner workings of the office in which the show takes place are presented in a ‘mockumentary’ style, where characters frequently acknowledge the camera. The characteristically crude, witty humor of original writer and actor Ricky Gervais is evident in the screen writing. His character David Brent is the classic “worst boss ever” with no reservations when it comes to expressing himself. This makes for hilarious entertainment, leaving audiences disappointed when they finish the two short seasons.

Since 2005, the American series has also been very successful, gaining some of the highest ratings on all of NBC. The U.S. and U.K. versions are closely related, with similar humor, characters and plot.

“It’s far more exciting for me to be one of the very few Brits who have actually been appreciated by an American audience,” Gervais said to Esquire magazine.

Both versions give an inside look at a struggling paper company, and characters are also surprisingly similar. Michael Scott and David Brent are the stereotypical disliked boss, religiously followed by Dwight or Gareth, their assistants. Jim and Pam and Tim and Dawn are all pent up with their jobs, but in love with the other. Even though the show focuses on comedy, its characters are endearing and pull the audience in more and more each episode.

After more than 100 episodes, the American version is no longer living in the shadow of the original. The plot and characters are similar, but the U.S. Office is less dry comically. Still, this is better for an American audience, which seems to not only enjoy the humor, but the ongoing story as well. The Office is comedy genius, turning a seemingly dull office into a story that is inciting laughter and garnering fans.