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The American “Office” vs the British “Office”

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I know what I’m about to say is not fair. I’m about to compare a British television show to an American one. These two things are inherently different, apples and oranges! Gala apples and tangerines! British television shows only last a few years, so each episode has to mean more. They simply don’t have the time to run amok with story lines that make no sense.

Lately I have given up watching The Office it WAS good but it just isn’t anymore. It’s a huge disservice to the original British version, and that’s unfortunate, because the British Office was fantastic. Ricky Gervais’ name is on the credits of the American version, but he must be busy doing stand-up and turning down offers to host award shows. He’s clearly not paying attention. What we’re left with is a disaster.

I’m not going to advocate doing something else on Thursday nights. I am going to plead with you to watch the British version. Give it a chance, and I think you’ll see what I mean.

After the jump I break it down.

The first episodes of the British and American versions are virtually the same. The boss pretends to fire the receptionist for stealing post-its, someone put a stapler in jello etc. The feeling was different right from the start, Americans need more action, they need more resolutions and it’s that incessant need for action that destroyed the show.

Time:
You know how many episodes of the American Office there have been? 86. You know how many episodes of the British Office there were? 14! FOURTEEN! Each one perfectly executed. Two six episode long seasons and a two part Christmas Special and that’s it! At the end of the second season you know what gets resolved? NOTHING. No love interests, no big dreams coming true. Nothing happens and you just have to live with it. Then they waited an entire year to bring the Christmas Special. When I was watching the show for the first time my friend and I were so upset at the end of the last episode of season two we were both crying. We felt like we had been punched in the gut and would never recover (but like, in a good way). This was in my poor grad student phase so I had to count quarters and scrounge for money to be able to buy it the next day. I couldn’t live 24 hours without knowing how my friends were, I felt like I knew them. I felt like I worked with them and maybe it’s crazy but I genuinely loved them. Now what’s happening in The Office? Michael is quitting but obviously not because he’s the main character, Jim and Pam are already engaged, and the plethora of unnecessary characters just fiddle around in the background. I don’t care about any of them (with the exception of Stanley, who I care about with a heart full of Stanley Nickels.)

Jim Halpert vs Tim Canterbury
Tim Canterbury is an underdog. He lives with his parents, and he is in love with Dawn who is engaged to Lee. He doesn’t have upper-management dreams, he doesn’t know what his dreams are exactly (like so many of us real people). Tim is adorable but not handsome, he’s frustrated, but not a go-getter. He’s just a regular guy who knows the deal but can’t catch a break or the motivation to change his life. Jim Halpert on the other hand is charming and too good looking. He tried the awkward thing and he just can’t do it. Tim’s looking at the camera shrug is brilliant, Jim’s got old. With Stringer Bell’s current dislike for Jim he’s finally falling into the underdog position, and it’s refreshing for a change.

Pam Beesly vs Dawn Tinsley

I want to hug Dawn. If she was here right now I would hug her and we would jump up and down and scream a little. Then we’d hold hands and sit on the couch in the break room and talk about how her and Tim are doing and how the drawing is going. She’d get serious and ask me how my leg is doing post-break. I’d tell her how I keep yelling at Juan because I look fat in pictures and Dawn would tell me to embrace my body and to just love myself. She would remind me that anything is possible and she spent so many years worrying about the little things but now she’s really heading in a positive direction. I would thank her for talking to me and she’d say, really Hawkes, I’m your friend and I care about you a lot. If I saw Pam right now she’d give me dirty looks and take a while to warm up to me. Much like my relationship with Kate Jackson, so really I guess that makes her pretty believable. But seriously, she fails graphic design but instead of taking it over and getting her certificate she comes home because she misses her boyfriend! That’s just silly. Dawn would never do that, and Tim would never let her.

Dwight Schrute vs Gareth Keenan
I think it’s too easy to like Dwight. He does hilarious things, and then he does mean things. He kills Angela’s cat and shows no remorse what so ever that she was cheating on her fiancé with him. But then you say, ok, so he did some mean things but he’s still great, he’s still the comic relief. Which is what I’m trying to get at, he talks too much. He’s too far over the top and out of control. Gareth perfectly nails the British comic subtlety. He was in the military and thinks that’s the way everything should be run. He’s both calculated and stupid at the same time. Gareth believes that he’s right and every ridiculous thing that he does isn’t unbelievable and is always understandable. You know someone like Gareth, I guarantee you. You met him in college in an advanced calculus class that he didn’t belong in so he sat in front asked too many questions. You don’t know Dwight, and you never will.

Jan Levinson vs Jennifer Taylor-Clark
Jan is exactly what is holding women back from positions of authority in the corporate setting. She has this job that’s higher than Michael’s, but she messes it up by getting romantically involved. She loses her job so she pouts around on the couch for weeks gets fake boobs and now she’s pregnant? So a smart, educated independent woman can’t work with a charmer like Michael Scott and not fall for him? For crap’s sake she could have done so much better, her character could have been the boss. On The Office how many women are in leadership roles? Karen Filippelli? But she’s pregnant! Why can’t a woman focus on her career? Holly Flax had to leave because she fell for Michael too! It’s literally a tragedy. Jennifer Taylor-Clark on the other hand is a career minded independent woman. She makes managerial decision with both sternness and grace. David looks her in the eye and literally begs not to be fired and she doesn’t give in she doesn’t falter. Everyone likes her but everyone respects her first and it’s important to show that.

Charles Miner vs actual Idris Elba
It’s not totally unbelievable that a British guy would work in steel then work in paper and move to PA to work at a paper company. It’s not! Let him have an accent!!

Michael Scott vs David Brent
This one’s hard. But please hear me through. The things that Michael Scott does are totally unacceptable and inappropriate. You cannot act like him and retain a job, you just can’t. David Brent is awkward and silly, he’s narcissistic and insecure, but he’s a person that you could meet. He had a dream to be a singer and it didn’t quite work out, so he’s selling paper. So he’s sad. That’s all, mostly he’s a lonely guy who just wants people to like him. In the very last episode David’s been online dating and each has been a disaster worse than the last. The last date comes to the Christmas party and they meet for the first time. David’s exhausted and defeated and is completely honest with her about his failures. He totally lays himself out on the table for the first time. The woman looks at him and says, “So what? So you’re not what people expected you to be, you’re still you, you still have your dreams and your integrity. Just keep on.” And his face changes. His face changes and your heart moves. You realize that after everything, after all the jokes have been told and all the songs have been sung that David Brent is a good guy. You instantly love him for the first time and the last time in those last minutes of the show. You fall in love with David Brent’s complexity and sincerity. It’s the perfect place to leave your old friend, the perfect moment to say, I know you’re going to be ok. The best thing for Michael Scott right now would be if he actually quit Dunder Mifflin and made some serious changes. A little time in the real world, in a place where he has to earn respect and where you can’t just fall into managerial positions by accident might do him some good. The things that Michael Scott does now would even make David Brent cringe.

Ok, ok, I’m done! In prelude to your arguments I know it’s a different show and a different cast in a different country so that comparing them is probably futile. But I feel very strongly that it’s crossed a line and gone on too long and it’s lost what made The Office great in the first place. The British version isn’t as slap-stick, but it’s still very very funny.

If you love the American version I implore you to check out the original. You won’t regret it!
I’ll be back once this disaster hits the airwaves.

If you made it this far please watch this treat:

49 thoughts on “The American “Office” vs the British “Office””

  1. Brit Fancy says:

    This is awesome. You are so right on about everything! This season is just dragging on, frankly, after season 3, I just started getting tired with all the antics at Dunder Mifflin. Jan was awesome until they made her completely pathetic (selling candles out of Michael’s condo? Really?). It makes me miss Slough!

  2. Brit Fancy says:

    This is awesome. You are so right on about everything! This season is just dragging on, frankly, after season 3, I just started getting tired with all the antics at Dunder Mifflin. Jan was awesome until they made her completely pathetic (selling candles out of Michael’s condo? Really?). It makes me miss Slough!

  3. tank says:

    This might be biased since I am American and the Office is my favorite show but here I go anyways. I went out and bought the British Office. I had heard some great things about it and I love Ricky Gervais. Honestly at first it was hard to understand everything, not being use to the accent, but eventually I caught on and I found it to be overall a great show. Its possibly my favorite behind, of course, the American version. It was similar yet greatly different than the American Office. To me it seemed more like a movie than a TV series. In the British office you really only get to know the five main characters well. The rest are basically background characters to take up space. In the American version these background characters are more developed and you get to know their personalities as the show goes on. This brings some great dynamics to the show that the British Office did not have. I mean the Dwight, Angela, Andy love triangle. Kevin. I don’t know what I would do without Kevin. And honestly my favorite character, and I’m not lying, Creed. These characters bring so much to the American office that the British one doesn’t have. On the point of realism I do agree that the British office is more realistic, and it is likely that you would run into someone like a David or Gareth in your life. This is great and all but if I wanted to see a realistic office I would get a job in one. When I watch TV I want to see something to take me away from my world. Overall I think the American office has more laughs because of the off-the-wall style antics of Dwight and Micheal. Sure it might not ever happen in real life but that’s not why I watch it. I could go on all night about the differences(and these shows ARE vastly different)and what I prefer but it all comes down to opinion. Overall these are both great series and they are both worth watching. Lets just be glad we have twice as much to enjoy.

  4. tank says:

    This might be biased since I am American and the Office is my favorite show but here I go anyways. I went out and bought the British Office. I had heard some great things about it and I love Ricky Gervais. Honestly at first it was hard to understand everything, not being use to the accent, but eventually I caught on and I found it to be overall a great show. Its possibly my favorite behind, of course, the American version. It was similar yet greatly different than the American Office. To me it seemed more like a movie than a TV series. In the British office you really only get to know the five main characters well. The rest are basically background characters to take up space. In the American version these background characters are more developed and you get to know their personalities as the show goes on. This brings some great dynamics to the show that the British Office did not have. I mean the Dwight, Angela, Andy love triangle. Kevin. I don’t know what I would do without Kevin. And honestly my favorite character, and I’m not lying, Creed. These characters bring so much to the American office that the British one doesn’t have. On the point of realism I do agree that the British office is more realistic, and it is likely that you would run into someone like a David or Gareth in your life. This is great and all but if I wanted to see a realistic office I would get a job in one. When I watch TV I want to see something to take me away from my world. Overall I think the American office has more laughs because of the off-the-wall style antics of Dwight and Micheal. Sure it might not ever happen in real life but that’s not why I watch it. I could go on all night about the differences(and these shows ARE vastly different)and what I prefer but it all comes down to opinion. Overall these are both great series and they are both worth watching. Lets just be glad we have twice as much to enjoy.

  5. JAM says:

    This is greatly biased. I tried getting into the British office and I couldn’t! It was boring and I did not connect with any of the characters at all. The American office has humor and each character is a great representative of typical office persons. I honestly think that whichever you saw first is the one you will like better. Oh, and I still love Jim’s shrugs.

  6. JAM says:

    This is greatly biased. I tried getting into the British office and I couldn’t! It was boring and I did not connect with any of the characters at all. The American office has humor and each character is a great representative of typical office persons. I honestly think that whichever you saw first is the one you will like better. Oh, and I still love Jim’s shrugs.

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  9. phil says:

    Anyone who thinks the American version is half as good as the UK one is one if not all of these things:

    1) American
    2) Slightly dumb
    3) Doesnt understand comedy.
    4) cant appreciate the nuiences of comedy.
    5) Did i mention american?

    I like the american version, its a good show, makes me chuckle, the english version however – is halarious – and one of the (if not the) best comedy shows ever made.

    Gervais is genious, you could watch it without sound and it would still be funny.

    I often hear amercians talk trash like, “its to cringeworthy” etc etc, poor buggers dont understand thats the whole point of the show.

    American TV as a whole is far superior to any other countrys, obv British is second -) but America has it covered 100%, but to even consider the US version of the office being superior is a clear sign that you are one of the above or just plain deluded with some kind of Patriotic bs.

  10. phil says:

    Anyone who thinks the American version is half as good as the UK one is one if not all of these things:

    1) American
    2) Slightly dumb
    3) Doesnt understand comedy.
    4) cant appreciate the nuiences of comedy.
    5) Did i mention american?

    I like the american version, its a good show, makes me chuckle, the english version however – is halarious – and one of the (if not the) best comedy shows ever made.

    Gervais is genious, you could watch it without sound and it would still be funny.

    I often hear amercians talk trash like, “its to cringeworthy” etc etc, poor buggers dont understand thats the whole point of the show.

    American TV as a whole is far superior to any other countrys, obv British is second -) but America has it covered 100%, but to even consider the US version of the office being superior is a clear sign that you are one of the above or just plain deluded with some kind of Patriotic bs.

  11. PerryBlake says:

    Many people need to be told when to laugh and need a show to have obvious punchlines and “funny moments” so that even if they are not paying attention they can still laugh. The British Office is not that show. You have to pay attention to get it and appreciate it.

    Ricky Gervais is a genius and The Office is one of the greatest shows I’ve ever seen. I gave the American version a shot but found it to be way too over-the-top, completely unbelievable and too schticky for my tastes. You mention in your blog that you know Gareth and you don’t know Dwight. Well, I would expand that to say that the things that happen in the British Office could actually happen while the things that happen in the American Office would never, ever happen.

    It’s a matter of taste, though, and I prefer the British one.

  12. PerryBlake says:

    Many people need to be told when to laugh and need a show to have obvious punchlines and “funny moments” so that even if they are not paying attention they can still laugh. The British Office is not that show. You have to pay attention to get it and appreciate it.

    Ricky Gervais is a genius and The Office is one of the greatest shows I’ve ever seen. I gave the American version a shot but found it to be way too over-the-top, completely unbelievable and too schticky for my tastes. You mention in your blog that you know Gareth and you don’t know Dwight. Well, I would expand that to say that the things that happen in the British Office could actually happen while the things that happen in the American Office would never, ever happen.

    It’s a matter of taste, though, and I prefer the British one.

  13. The1revelation says:

    100% agree with all these things. You perfectly nailed the Dwight/Gareth comparison.

  14. Brooke says:

    I think people need to understand that American and British humor is different. For example, no you would never (hopefully) know someone like Dwight, but he's so over the top and weird and funny you love him. It's not supposed to be totally realistic, over the top humor is appealing. They are totally different shows, but, being as I like over the top thing's like Dwight (???), I think the American version is hands down better.

  15. Lorri says:

    Love American humor and love British humor. I’m American but truly appreciate both. The two Office shows are not to be compared as in “good” or “bad”…. they are two completely different types of humor and I crack up laughing at both!!!!

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  18. matt says:

    you really shouldnt compare these shows. but you mentioned that so whatever. your take on women and there role in comedy gives me chills though, the women characters in the american office have vital roles only because they are involved with the male characters. thats why pam, jan, and whatever her name was all had feminine complications. call me sexist or whatever else you have in your purse, but women arent funny. women comics are holes.

  19. Jared says:

    Ok…. I know that the American show copied the The Office, but I’m sorry, this review is COMPLETELY biased. I have watched both, and I don’t understand how you didn’t compare the actual acting of them both… Rainn Wilson blows Mackenzie Crook out of the water as far as acting goes, as well as Jenna Fischer being a better actress than Lucy Davis.. You didn’t say ONE good thing about the American version and the whole comparing of the characters was pathetic. I don’t understand how you can possibly read this review and say that you did not have some sort of patriotism when writing this review (if that’s even what you want to call it). Both bosses are hilarious in their own way, and both Jim and Tim are very likable. But please, watch the first episode (because they are almost exactly the same, sometimes even using the same lines, I don’t like the unoriginality from the American writers either, trust me) and compare the acting, with an unbiased standpoint. Honestly, this review was completely slanted towards the British version for reasons I do not see.

  20. tinman says:

    They are both good in their own way, they just have different “Rules”

    The British Office was not allowed to step outside the reality of what would happen in an ordinary documentary and in real life. And that’s what made it great some people who watched the first series actually believed they were watching a documentary.

    When they did the First series in the US they tried to make it like the British office (ie 100% authentic)
    It was boring and stupid
    It didn’t get good until the writers said “F£$k it we will have the boss jump on to a bouncy castle in the parking lot”

    its like how WWE is an American thing and wouldn’t work if the British did it.
    We would feel to silly watching it.

    Comparing the two versions of the Office
    is like comparing boxing and WWE

  21. Dkukiewicz says:

    I’m British but saw the American office first and instantly didn’t like it, it didn’t seem funny, but then about two years later I watched the full UK office and loved it. The last scene was amazing. In response to those who say that the characters are not developed in the UK office I think that is sort of the point – Gervais and Merchant didn’t want to be expositional when they wrote it they wanted it to be real. It is taken as read that all these characters will already know each other before the series starts. Dwight is funny but just seems like a terrible person where in the real office the characterisation is so good that you like all the characters (except Chris Finch) despite all their flaws. Like a large amount of US comedy this US office is based on one-liners and slapstick and very little substance.

  22. April says:

    I really want to get into The Office (UK) and I’m sorry I can’t help the fact I’m American. I just can’t 😐 The American Office characters have kinda grown on me. And I mean, c’mon they’re outrageous because they’re American. That’s the humor of the country and there are some real live Americans that do way more outrageous stunts than Micheal Scott and still have a job.

    I agree with Jared in the fact that this “comparison” was way too biased. They both have their pros and their cons. And, that “incessant need for action”? The action is called conflict. It’s what makes a story a story and a show a show. Even if nothing is accomplished in the end, there still needs to be conflict inbetween. Ongoing conflicts keep a show going and an audience wanting more. Sorry the knucklehead American had to explain this. 😛

  23. TeaOhEm says:

    Really guy? You managed to say NOTHING bad about the Brit version and NOTHING good about the U.S. one… I stopped caring what you had to say half-way through the first paragraph… You are so completely and totally biased that you should not have even contributed your warped opinion.

  24. Nathan says:

    I have to agree with Tank on this one,
    I watched both offices and enjoyed both — but the British one seemed more like a movie/mini-series to me.
    The American one seems more like a Tv Show —
    -the characters are dynamic
    -almost every character has a personality which is focused on at different parts.
    Not to say one is better than the other, but I personally like the American one more as a television show.

  25. ryan says:

    The American version of the show is better. The characters are all much more likeable. Your criticism of Dwight is that he is “too easy to like?” I would say that’s the show’s strength. They take characters like Michael or Dwight, who could both easily be obnoxious and unlikeable in the hands of lesser writers or actors, and they make them very human, relateable, and yes likeable. The British Office doesn’t do that. Gareth is exactly like what Dwight could be if done poorly: namely a character that is just flat out unlikeable and irritating. Dwight is more over the top, sure. He’s also funnier. But is he someone you would never ever meet as you assert? No. He actually reminds me a ton of my cousin Dennis.

    Dwight vs Gareth? Dwight a million times over. Jim vs Tim? Jim- he has more personality. Pam vs. Dawn? Close, but at least Pam is attractive. Michael vs. David? Also close, but I think Michael’s character is better because he better displays his humanity and vulnerability. He’s a more well rounded human being. David is just a character.
    The rest of the ensemble? American Office all the way. Not even close. Angela, Stanley, Creed, Kevin, Oscar, etc… every one of them is a great character, someone that you probably know in real life, funny, memorable… the British office characters are more like wallpaper. And I guess that is part of the show’s effort to be subtle and passable as a real documentary… but overall I don’t think that’s a good thing.

    The American office is more fun, funnier, with better actors and more likeable characters. Ricky Gervais is a great comedic actor, and that’s the only thing that I would really consider as a big positive in the British version’s favor… but Steve Carrell is just as good or better. So that’s not enough.

  26. lucero pinedo says:

    congratulations…you’ve just managed to say everything good about the U.K version and completely rip on the U.S version.A) I agree with what tank said,”when we watch television,we want things to seclude us from the real world.If we wanted something real, we’d go get a job or something”.B) Why the hell would Pam give you dirty looks?! you gave us no evidence at all. C) You’ve gotta appreciate both of em equally.Kudos to the U.S version for being able to run the show for 7 years and for having the many viewers that the show has earned.As for the U.K. version, congratulations on ricky gervais’s comedy exellence.Even though the U.K version was more realistic than the U.S version it was still television gold that should be required viewing.

  27. Bets says:

    This article nails it exactly.
    The UK Office is a pretty accurate depiction of the dreary lives most British office workers face. Michael Scott isn’t going to come bursting in with a bouncy castle. This is real life. Why do people seem to feel they have to be sucked into an American sitcom every night? Why don’t people face up to the crumminess of every day life?
    The American Office is thickened, unsubtle humour which is just not funny. Jim and Pam’s love story doesn’t even compare with Tim and Dawn’s.
    And this is coming from an Australian.

  28. Felix says:

    I’m American, I saw the US version first but the UK version is so much better that it’s not even a fair comparison. You guys are complaining that the UK version is more of a mini-series or movie – that’s the entire point of a mockumentary! It’s not supposed to go on endlessly. See, Ricky Gervais knew when to quit and end the show. The US version does not. I originally did like the show, but it went from a relatively smart show with well-written characters to a bunch of one-dimensional caricatures in order to gain laughs. In other words, it became just another sitcom.

    Beyond that, the UK version is simply far more BELIEVABLE. Not only is Dwight way too over-the-top, but Pam and Jim were made to be way too likeable to the point they are almost Mary Sues. Part of the charm that lies with Tim and Dawn is that they are just average, or even extremely flawed, people that you might encounter in your everyday life, yet at the same time, they make them characters that you want to root for. Meanwhile, Jim was made to be God’s gift to women and Pam was created as the perfect “girl next door” type of person.

    I admit I didn’t like the UK version at first, and I agree, it was difficult to get into at first. But on the second viewing, I saw one of the most engrossing, well-written, and beautiful shows ever made. It’s not just about the humor, it’s also the story that it tells that is so touching to watch as it unfolds. Of course, if you’re just looking for cheap laughs, you’re going to miss all of the subtleties of the UK version. But I ask, as someone who has “converted” to the UK version, I implore everyone that simply tried watching it once or twice, to watch it in its entirety, and watch closely. The UK version is simply an absolute masterpiece.

  29. Julia says:

    I personally prefer the American version better. I’ve read most of the comments above and disagree with the everyone one who says that if u prefere the American one over the uk version you are dumb, American, and don’t know comedy. I think both are funny but the uk version is to real. No one watches television to watch things that go on during an ordinary person’s ordinary way. People watch television to imagine how life would be if their’s weren’t ordinary. The American version has a great contrast between characters who are as normal as Jim and characters who are as strange as Dwight & micheal. I watchedthe uk episodes also and found it funny but I never found it funny enough to actually laugh out loud. There characters were more realistic but that’s not what I wanted out of the show. Some characters I actually found boring and ordinary, but in the American version every character was ful of personality, if not they were kicked off the show (Pam’s ex-fiancé). I would rather wish that someone with an outside vote (someone whom is not from the uk or America) to decide which one is better, because I do believe that a majority of people (both from America and the UK) are guilty of choosing what they are use to rather than what they would chose if they had an open mind and maybe I’m guilty of this too. Back to why I believe the American version is better…. The fact that the American office was an office where the characters hardly worked and mostly played was my favorite part because it seem more like a class room or a gathering of friends rather than work, and that is a good thing, to me, because if I wanted to watch a show of how an office works and hardly played I’d get a boring job. As for the boss characters, both were amazing and I can’t choose who was better. Again, my preffered version is the American based on the way all the characters meant something instead of just 5 characters. I wouldn’t call the uk version bad though because it was good and the original, but you have to remember that the original doesn’t always mean the best, it just means it came first.

  30. Oscar from Chile says:

    First of all I apologize if my english isn’t good enough, I’m from Chile, and here it goes an UNBIASED OPINION..
    The first time I watched the office I watched both pilots (US & UK versions) and I didn’t laugh too much with none of them, however I continued watching the american one, and it became one of my favorite shows ever.. and now I started to watch the UK one, and I have hardly laugh just a couple of times, Actually I watched with my girlfriend and she fell sleep (she also watches the american one with me, and she loves it). So I Guess UK one is not as good as US one. Anyway I’m going to go on with the rest of the UK version, I only have watched the first three episodes but anyway I think my opinion won’t change. GREETINGS FROM CHILE!

    PS: Even the secundary ones are good in the US office, I mean: Stanley, Kevin, Creed, even Meredith, those guys are HILARIOUS 🙂

  31. Meg says:

    SPOILERS for UK version…..

    When they kiss is the UK you feel a surge of warmth and want to cheer and cry and clap. Can anyone honestly say they have the same reaction to the first kiss between the smug, irritating Jim and Pam?

  32. rj says:

    brits and americans will never agree on this. seinfeld is one of the funniest shows ever – maybe THE funniest – and the british don’t like it. we overlap on humor but we aren’t the same so most americans will like US and most brits will like UK.

  33. Brit Office Fan says:

    Definitely prefer the British version.. and I’m not British or American.

    Why? Because the British version doesn’t bash you over the head with humour, as 90% of American comedy does. It doesn’t have to explain the jokes, or be too obvious about it. Subtle humour, where your brain does a bit more thinking than in-your-face humour, is much funnier.

    Seinfeld (as mentioned above) was fantastic, and as overt as that show was, it actually was a very intelligent comedy (for the first few seasons anyway) and didn’t need the dumb tricks shows like the American Office and other contemporary programs force upon you.

    As far as the casting goes.. Well, a wise person once told me, that Americans actors “act”.. you might think that’s perfectly normal and right, but it’s not. The best actors are those that own the role, and make it appear as if they ARE the characters.. This is what Brits do better than Americans. In general, Americans are overt actors, Brits are subtle.

  34. rose says:

    just finished watching the UK version and i exactly feel the same thing! i can’t watch another episode of it anymore and it feels so sad, because they had been amusing and wise sometimes.. i learn a lot from it and laugh more, now should i check the US version after all?

  35. Xavier Guidry says:

    Are you serious? The author is completely wrong on the comparisons. The Tim character has upper management dreams just like Jim!! He mentions it to Dawn more than once. David and Michael both couldnt be real bosses. I mean Ricky Gervais talks about sex and totally outrageous. How can you say Pam is boring? She does different things in life. You are comparing based on having watched the UK first. Obviously they’re going to be different, why would the American version copy the exact same story and characters. They used basic qualities of the UK characters and added crazy American characteristics. You are saying the American one should’ve been based the exact same as the UK if youre going to complain about the differences. There would be no point for a new version otherwise. Know your facts and television trivia before you go bashing Americans.

  36. Maylene says:

    I have seen both of the offices. i dont find the uk version very funny, but its not because of the jokes. i just dont understand what they say alot of the times.

    for example:

    in the uk version, episode 1, David calls someone a “slag”. i know that its an insult, but since i’d never heard the word before, it just didnt strike me as funny. there are a lot of times where things like this happen in the show.

    i think that has a large role in why most people here seem to prefer the office from their own country. (for the record, what i understood did make me laugh)

  37. Fjord Prefect says:

    Did someone mention subtle English humor? What, like Benny Hill?

  38. steph says:

    People complain that the british characters don’t have personality or don’t shpw their humanity “they’re just characters”. I’d like to call bullshit in that one. Just because the characters inner selves aren’t spelled out in precise words doesn’t mean that they don’t have inner selves. David is quite complex as shown in the scenes where he exposes his vulnerable side even a little bit. He’s rude and obnoxious but when he’s tearing up asking for his job in the series 2 end you feel for the guy. You feel for him because he isnt over the top. Hes a real person and he’s relatable. When my life is going bad i dont feel comforted by immersing myself into an over the top show full of gags, i feel comforted by the uncanny resemblances i share with every single character in the UK version (barring finch) and knowing that other people experience the same shit that i do. For the record (since it seems to matter) i am from the US, and sometimes i wish i wasnt because i completely understand where the negative stereotypes about us come, and in some cases they’re rather justified.

  39. Daniel Hoffschneider says:

    You are very right! The British Office seemed more real than the antics in Scranton. Don’t get me wrong. I love The American Office, with it’s humour. I just think The British Office is more real.

  40. leighton says:

    I’m not american and i have seen both shows and i get the humour (see humo-U-r with a u) in both because it is very similar i don’t think pple would miss that but seriously pple i mean cmon! it is so obvious that the american version is waaaaaay better than the british version. For starters watching british tv makes me feel like i’m in the 60’s and i have a nob turn television – it is soooo slow and there is something up with the colour it is like the americans live in HD or something. Anyways maybe its bcuz the us office is longer and i have grown to love the characters especially dwight, jim and pam but the british one is pants compared even tho for british tv its pretty good.

  41. OfficeFan says:

    Hi, I’m not American nor Britisch and I have seen and enjoyed both the US and the UK versions of ‘The Office’. However, The Office UK is without a doubt my favorite television series of all time, with Seinfeild as an honorouble second. In my opinion the power of both The Office UK and Seinfeld is quite similar: They manage to make you like the characters without using cheesy moments and they manage to make you laugh without using easy humour.

    As mentioned above, there are a lot of differences between the UK and the US shows and what kind of comedy you prefer will mainly depend on personal taste. However, what catapults the UK version into a different league for me (besides the brilliant comedy of the first two seasons) can best be explained with the Christmas Specials. The second season didn’t have a happy ending: Dawn and Tim didn’t get together and David dit get fired. Just like Seinfeld, they didn’t just give the audience what they wanted. In life, things simply don’t always work out…

    Now, with that in mind, you watch the predicament of Dawn, Tim and David very differently during the Christmas Specials. You honestly don’t know if everything is going to be ok. You honestly don’t know whether David is going to screw up his date and as Dawn’s cab is driving of into the night you honstly don’ know whether those stoplights are going to turn on or not… You feel the insecurity that the characters are feeling. You live with them. And, for me, that is why The Office UK is more than just a good laugh. It can move you in all its simplicity.

  42. Carlos Malan says:

    I tried the British “Office”, and it seemed like a actualy worked in an office. Thanks british tv. your version of comody is watching people work.

  43. Mike says:

    The British Office is witty and smart, the US Office is just another “modern” American comedy relying on non sequiturs and nonsensical chatter as a substitute for humor.

  44. Thierra Christopher says:

    It seems like Americans think the American version is better and Brits think the British version better. I don’t understand why it’s such a big deal because both execute comedy in different way. I personally like the American version better because I was crying on Micheal’s last Dundies and freaking sobbing on the finale. I feel the best part about it for sure was the connection I got with the characters. We can’t even begin with the characters…. From Stanley’s grumpy attitude and sudoku puzzles to Pam’s adorable cuteness. I have a huge problem with this post because you pretty much bashed every charecter on the American version… It almost made me think if you even watched both versions?

  45. duh says:

    British comedy isn’t intelligent.
    They are a bunch of inbred islanders who’s history is full of evil choices.
    The smart people left for what is now the US.
    Its no surprise we score higher than you in intelligence tests across the board, invent more than you, earn more than you.
    Everything you do is dated by American standards.
    British people are dumber than racist American black people.

    Btw The Office is waaaaaaaay better. Waaaaaay waaaaaaaay better than that crap of an excuse for a piece of art that the British came up with, which was simply the failing prototype to one of the best shows of the new millennium.

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  48. Pavan says:

    As an American who’s favorite show list is almost entirely British, the difference is obvious. Subtle humor and realistic dialogue are the cornerstones of British comedy, while American comedy requires some over the top acting and can produce some ridiculous scenarios that will have you in tears. The American show has much more to ofter, solely because of its length. The greater number of episodes allows for the development of a whole host of characters, which compensates for the slightly stagnant host of main characters. Jim and Pam’s love story is exactly what you’d expect out of an American rom com, complete with a violent ex-boyfriend, a broken engagement, and a healthy resolution to a drawn out, obvious, will they-won’t they type situation. The British version is way more realistic in character development of the original cast, allowing for a better sense of investment in the subtle dimensions of characters like Tim and Dawn. The idea behind the office and mockumentaries is to create a relatable cast whose humor is one you would find commonplace in your own life, and in this goal, the British version clearly takes the cake. However, like all American things, we take a concept and blow it up big. From modern family to HIMYM, characters are given a list of traits to which they adhere time and time again, almost religiously. The subtle growth of people is of no interest to us, because the majority of us would rather see the natural humor that comes out of pitting characters in strange and unfortunate situations. In this, the US version of the Office exceeds all expectations. Michael’s childish behavior never ceases, though this was a given when you hire an actor who stars in Anchorman or 40-year-old virgin. Jim and Pam become an afterthought, transitioning from a focal plot line to a vessel for continuing the plot lines of other characters. This constant introduction of new characters and new situations produces both hits and misses, but overall provides a wider broad of appeal in terms of humor. If you want layered, well-developed, tightly scripted, dynamic characters that are well developed, watch the UK version. If you’re up for a rollercoaster ride of antics and a wider range of gimmicky characters, Creed, Stanley, and Kevin will steal, sass, and eat their way into your heart. Or you could just try them both and decide which you like for yourself.

  49. Engelbert Humperdinck says:

    I’m English and prefer the UK version. I find plenty of American stuff funny like The Simpsons, Family Guy (the Star Wars spoofs were genius), Futurama, The Big Bang Theory, Frasier, Cheers, Emo Philips, Superbad, the Live Prude Girls on YouTube, so I don’t think it’s a case of me only liking British humour and never finding American humour funny. (And I don’t even find all British humour funny). It’s just that in this instance I don’t find the American version of The Office that funny. Is it because the humour is going over my head? Or is it because I find the humour basic, unsubtle and unsophisticated. I’d say it’s the latter. Office Space though I found very funny. It astounds me when some Americans say they find the UK original boring. All I can think is that the comedy must have gone completely over their heads. They must have missed the subtlety of the humour.

  50. Cottonball says:

    Talent of actors and actress is looked upon very differently by different nationalitys, different personalitys and different places of employment. People in postions of power or wealth find certain situations funnier than a poorer person who comes home from work looking for something crazy to make them laugh,.America has a large amount of people who do not watch television to find some deeper meaning to life, that is what books are for to learn and to laugh but in a smarter way. The UK has more shows with grusome deaths and strange sexual situations than America does, this is because the UK is more down to earth amd realistic, if you live there you will find that more funny by default. American television is designed to make you laugh,break your heart,make you look over your sholder in fear and motivate you.One can connect with the characters faster on the American version, others who watch the UK version connect slower with the characters but perhaps in a deeper way. I believe that different persons like different things.

    Also Americans are not dumb we are the largest superpower in the world,some of the richest people ever know live here,there are a vast ampunt of well educated people who make this their home and if Americans are dumb then why are there smart Britains living here in this dumb country.

  51. Luke says:

    The UK Office is so bad compared to the American version. There’s a reason why the UK one ended so early and the American version had 9 seasons.

  52. Your Dick says:

    Im Canadian and I have watched both all the way to the end, and as a country I definitely prefer the UK, but I also definitely prefer the American version of “The Office”, and most of your arguments are totally wrong, The Office(US) will always be better than The Office(UK).
    BAM!

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