The Office is finally getting one of those podcasts where people go deep into the making of individual episodes (not unlike that one Office head writer Mike Shur has for his creation The Good Place) and it already looks like a must-subscribe – if only to ask “hey, are you going to address that gay panic episode?”
Said podcast – Office Ladies – has just been announced for October with hosts Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey (aka Pam Beasley and Angela Martin) who are real-life besties as well as co-stars, and both extremely funny people.
And the description – “Each week, Fischer and Kinsey break down an episode of The Office and give exclusive behind-the-scenes stories that only two people who were there would know” – suggests that it’s going to skip over particular favourites rather than every single one of the 201 episodes. Not least because is anyone really after a deep dive into season one? No: no, they are not.
But even so, it raises the question of what they plan to do about the episodes which are horribly problematic in 2019. The blithe sexual harassment Michael Scott regularly dishes out. The abusive relationship played for hilarious laffs between he and his boss Jan. The regular low-key racism – look, there’s a lot.
And yes, I know it’s a comedy and the Scott character was meant to be a gormless twat, but Scott is always presented as a sympathetic character doing his nest, unlike the British equivalent of Ricky Gervais’ unambiguously odious David Brent.
For example: that episode where Michael outs one of his staff and then forces a kiss on said employee to prove that he’s not a homophobe.
It’s called Gay Witch Hunt and it was the season three opener in 2006 – so not exactly a billion years ago. At the time everyone loved it, but watching it now… oh god, it’s not good. The language. The slurs. The forced kiss. The gay panic around the only LGBTIQ+ character on the show. All of that.
Anyway: I’m dead keen to hear how the podcast handles the gay panic in The Office, and the many other moments which are pure cringe. There’s only so many times a host can go “well, it was a different era,” surely?