Why Don't Jim and Pam Have Any Friends on The Office?
The consensus around the Internet today is that last night's wholly unfunny edition of The Office was its worst entry of the season. There's only so much you can say about an episode that so aggressively left the bounds of earthly reality (Michael and Andy on a bus to Mexico to build schools; really?), but one thing did stick out like a badly infected thumb: Why don't Jim and Pam have any friends?
"Christening" was the name of last night's failure, and (as you can guess) it centered on the christening of Baby Cece. The Office has done fine work with this potentially shark-jumping plot turn -- Jim and Pam's early stages of parenthood have been a subtle highlight of this season, and the writers have done a good job incorporating Cece into their lives (and the lives of other Dunder-Mifflin employees), without sacrificing the greater good. So consider my surprise when it was revealed that Cece's godparents were just two schmucks that Pam met during "Mommy & Me." Forgive me, but: Seriously?
For once, Michael's absurd belief that his employees are part of his family felt almost warranted: Why shouldn't he be Cece's godfather when Jim and Pam bestowed the honor upon some nobody? It's no wonder his feelings were hurt.
But there's a larger problem here -- and part of the reason why Jim and Pam have stopped being compelling characters. To counterpoint Mike Ryan's outstanding essay on why The Office isn't going to miss Steve Carell next season: How normal and relatable is Jim when he doesn't have one person to interact with outside of the office? Answer: Not very.
Sure, it's rare that isolated comedies -- whether they be of the workplace or familial variety -- have room for outside influences, but that doesn't mean they can't be referenced. I don't need (nor really want) Jim to grab a beer with some old college buddy, but I'd like to think he has an old college buddy. "Christening" shattered that illusion.
Even more disheartening and upsetting: It was easy to fix. When Michael asked who Cece's godparents were, couldn't Pam just have pointed to the pretty couple and said, "Our neighbors"? Or, "Jim's old college roommate"? (Or, hell, even Jim's jerky brothers, whom The Office forgot existed.) There was no reason for the godparents to be relative strangers, unless of course The Office was trying to tell us something: Are Jim and Pam really just as messed up and weird as everyone else working at Dunder-Mifflin? Judging from this one big character flaw, absolutely.