“There was always a happy ending planned.”
The Office is one of the most beloved shows of all time, but it’s not without its controversial moments. One of the storylines that most upset fans comes in Season 9, when the series’ central romantic couple Jim (John Krasinski) and Pam (Jenna Fischer) go through some pretty serious marital struggles. In fact, those struggles are so intense and so real that when the show was airing, many fans were worried Jim and Pam might break up before the show’s conclusion. As it turns out, that was the plan all along.
Last year, author Andy Greene’s book The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s was released, and in it various people involved with the show spoke about the Jim and Pam storyline in Season 9. According to the book, Krasinski said he and showrunner Greg Daniels both hatched the idea of having Jim and Pam go through a potential split and seeing how each character would come out on the other side, while other people involved with the show said the idea was to actually break Jim and Pam up.
But when I spoke with Daniels recently for a press day promoting The Office’s arrival on the streaming service Peacock, he maintained that they never actually intended to break up Jim and Pam. They just wanted the audience to feel like they might not make it:
“The plan was never to split them up. The plan was just to introduce a little worry into the audience so that they’d stand up and pay attention and that there would be a little feeling of like the Act 2 break in a movie. But no there was never gonna be a split-up for them. There was always a happy ending planned.”
It worked a little too well, and in Greene’s aforementioned book various people involved with the show relay how the storyline had to be shortened from their original plan because fans were so upset at the rift between Jim and Pam. It was, uh, stressful to say the least!
I told Daniels they did their job a little too well because Season 9 is still a little hard to watch for this very reason, and he laughed in agreement while also noting he feels that dramatic shift made the series finale that much more satisfying:
“It was not a happy thing for people, but I feel like the ending of the series was good and maybe it wouldn’t have been so satisfying if there hadn’t have been a little bit of anxiety beforehand.”
But is it really the end? Daniels also told me the idea of a reboot or reunion is “not impossible” but he’d want to be involved if a continuation happens.
Look for more from my The Office interviews on Collider soon.
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