I recently came to the realization that NBC’s The Office is the only television experience that I share with almost all of my friends and family. It’s the one and only show that everyone at our office watches, and that we can chat about the following morning. It’s also a reminder that the so-called “water cooler moment” is now a rarity.
Prior to the internet, video games, TiVo, Netflix, podcasts, Youtube, and cable television, it was the norm to have TV shows that everyone watched and discussed the next day. Just 10 years ago we shared Seinfeld and Friends, but now our attention is fractured among an infinity number of entertainment options. For example, among my family and friends, I can only think of a handful of people who watch even one of my other favorite shows (Heroes, Chuck, 30 Rock, My Name is Earl, Scrubs, The Simpsons, and Pushing Daisies). There are just so many ways to be entertained that you can’t possibly keep up – even with the good stuff.
That’s why I feel The Office is so special. Somehow, it manages to transcend everything else competing for our attention to create a shared experience every Thursday evening. That’s pretty impressive, considering the current state of entertainment, and speaks volumes about the appeal of original, well written television.