Jezebel Cancels Each Character From ‘The Office’

Jezebel Cancels Each Character From ‘The Office’

Mindy Kaling says The Office is "so inappropriate now," and "most of the characters on that show would be canceled by now.” We have thoughts.

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2023 will mark a decade since The Office ended its nine-year run, and as the sitcom about finding beauty in the mundanity of life in corporate America remains somehow as relevant as ever, its modern legacy is the subject of frequent debate. Mindy Kaling, a writer on the show who also portrayed its iconically air-headed customer service rep, Kelly Kapoor, is the latest to weigh in, and she didn’t hold back.

In a Tuesday interview with Variety, Kaling called The Office “so inappropriate now,” and apparently, she isn’t the only one who feels this way. “The writers who I’m still in touch with now, we always talk about how so much of that show we probably couldn’t make now,” Kaling said. “Tastes have changed, and honestly what offends people has changed so much now. I think that actually is one of the reasons the show is popular, because people feel like there’s something kind of fearless about it or taboo that it talks about on the show.”

Kaling’s words have sparked a lot of back-and-forth on the internet, since office workers now spend our days on Twitter instead of pranking our co-workers. Some have pointed out that if The Office were as offensive as Kaling suggests, it wouldn’t currently be the main attraction of NBC’s streamer, Peacock, or constantly re-running on NBC. I imagine the majority of dating profiles I swipe through would also try and avoid referencing the show as their entire personality, too. But of course, to Kaling’s point, the crux of much of the show’s humor is workplace sexual harassment, body-shaming, and everyday racism—even if none of it was exactly glorified.

Kaling isn’t the first Office alum to question the show’s place in modern popular culture. In 2018, Steve Carrell, who led the show for nearly a decade as the famously incompetent branch manager Michael Scott, said pointblank that the show probably wouldn’t work today, because “the climate’s different.”

In any case, Kaling also speculated that her character would have “quit Dunder Mifflin to become an influencer, and then probably be canceled, almost immediately.” She continued, “Actually, most of the characters on that show would be canceled by now.”

That particular bit got me thinking: Who else on this show might be canceled? The correct answer is all of them—except Karen Filippelli (Rashida Jones), who was perfect and deserved better. But pretty much everyone else sucked, if for no other reason than their total and complete inability to mind their own business and let their co-workers work.

Without further ado, I present a list of The Office characters who might be canceled by today’s standards:

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Jim Halpert

Jim Halpert

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Jim Halpert is oft understood as The Office’s effortlessly charming protagonist, but he’s perhaps aged the worst out of anyone on the show, mainly because he was supposed to be better. As one viral tweet posits, Jim spent the majority of the show “constantly bullying an autistic co-worker to impress a girl who’s already engaged.” That’s, err, definitely one way to put it.

On top of the constant pranks, there’s also the matter of buying a house for Pam without asking her, and essentially leaving her to be a single mom in Season 9. They worked everything out, and Pam liked the house, but those are pretty bright red flags to me. And then, of course, there’s the arrogance of posturing as if you’re simply too cool and smart to take any of your co-workers seriously.

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Pam Beasley

Pam Beasley

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Pam Beasley wasn’t just complicit in the frequent bullying and public humiliation rendered upon Dwight; she was on the frontlines alongside Jim. I don’t know that I could say she did anything especially ~cancelable~, but she definitely committed some kind of fraud in that one Season 7 episode in which she self-appoints herself as “office administrator” and gaslights a hapless Gabe Lewis into going along with this. And, look, I frankly respect that move from her, but you never know what’ll rile up the morality police these days!

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Michael Scott

Michael Scott

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There are too many obvious reasons to cancel Michael Scott—the sexual harassment, racist microaggressions, workplace relationships, outing Oscar Martinez, or sending a semi-nude photo of his female boss and girlfriend to the whole company, to name a few. But if you need more than that, there’s always the time he promised a class of toddlers in an underserved community that he would pay for their college tuition, and then…didn’t do that. And perhaps today’s conservatives would cancel him for that time he wore a women’s suit?

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Kelly Kapoor

Kelly Kapoor

I think Kaling’s analysis—that Kelly would inevitably become some kind of influencer and then just as inevitably be canceled—is pretty spot-on. A woman whose New Year’s resolution is “to get more attention by any means necessary” is going to run into some trouble. We learned in one episode that Kelly’s go-to excuse for anything that arose was quite literally that she’d been “raped,” which definitely wouldn’t go over well amid today’s aggressive anti-Me Too backlash. I imagine her insistence that if she’d “created a website with this many problems, I’d kill myself” re: Dunder Mifflin Infinity wouldn’t win her many points with mental health advocates today, either.

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Stanley Hudson

Stanley Hudson

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In the early seasons, Stanley Hudson emerged as The Office’s unproblematic king—he clocked in, clocked out, and he minded his own business. By the end of the show’s run, it’s unclear how many extramarital affairs and even how many marriages he racked up. Cheating is a pretty hot-button issue these days, though, in Stanley’s defense, at least he never self-identified as a Wife Guy.

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Dwight Schrute

Dwight Schrute

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When it comes to Dwight Schrute, the better question might be, what did he do that wasn’t cancelable? And I couldn’t tell ya! The beet-farming landlord undeniably had his more sympathetic moments, namely sparked by his soft spot for Pam, but he had an ongoing obsession with body-shaming co-workers Phyllis and Kevin, treating women like farm animals, and, of course, being a volunteer cop.

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Phyllis Lapin

Phyllis Lapin

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Poor Phyllis Lapin was more often the object of office bullying than the perpetrator. But the old bird—who, mind you, was the same age as Michael Scott—had plenty of sassy moments, too. I imagine she’d be canceled for blackmailing Angela over her infidelity, for, what, half a year, all as part of her machiavellian scheme to hold power over the Party Planning Committee? There’s also the ongoing popular fan theory that she and her husband, refrigerator magnate Bob Vance, ran an underground criminal mob together.

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Ryan Howard

Ryan Howard

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One of my favorite pastimes is honestly rewatching Seasons 1 through 3 of The Office and just savoring how normal Ryan Howard is in this stretch of the show. What would inevitably result in Ryan’s eventual cancelation, you ask? As my co-worker Caitlin Cruz put it, given his tendency toward skeeviness in the later seasons, I doubt he’d survive the Me Too era. And I bet he’d be up there with Sam Bankman-Fried and Steph Curry in the hot seat for Bitcoin fraud right about now, too.

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Angela Martin

Angela Martin

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Honestly, forget Jim Halpert. This little lady and her inability to go two minutes without casting judgment on others was the center of this damn show. Nonetheless, given her fanatical puritanism and addiction to having sex on her co-workers’ desks (all while slut-shaming anyone who so much as dared to flash an ankle), I have my doubts that she’d hold up to the Woke Mob’s strict scrutiny today.

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Kevin Malone

Kevin Malone

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Like Phyllis, more often than not, Kevin was an innocent victim of workplace bullying—he was just trying to come into the office, be spectacularly bad at his job, then go home, and I respect that. But, of course, he’d simply have to be canceled for all the porn he was constantly watching at work. It would be one thing—and still a bad thing—if he worked from home, but this was pre-covid. There’s also the fan theory that he secretly defrauded the company out of millions, but honestly, in these post-Occupy Wall Street times, I see that as more of a pro than a con.

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Tobey Flenderson

Tobey Flenderson

The Office Toby Touches Pam’s Leg

Look, I get that Dunder Mifflin Scranton wasn’t exactly an ideal office to work as a human resources rep, but the man was stunningly bad at his job. Enabling years of casual sexual harassment and racism in the workplace is one (bad) thing, but this man also put his hand on Pam’s thigh, a scene so cringe I am still struggling with PTSD from witnessing it.

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Andy Bernard

Andy Bernard

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Well, Andy Bernard punched a hole in the wall and is a descendant of slave owners born into obscene wealth. So those are promising starting points. He also refused to let his much younger girlfriend-slash-employee, Erin, dump him, and—speaking of dumps—memorably took a huge one on David Wallace’s car. Boom! Canceled.

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Jan Levinson

Jan Levinson

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Six words: snip snap, snip snap, snip snap. I sincerely regret the divorce or whatever in her childhood made Jan Levinson the way she is, but that’s no excuse for subjecting Michael to frequent psychological abuse and reproductive coercion via repeated forced vasectomies. And she broke his $200 flat-screen TV, too. Never forget.

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Creed Bratton

Creed Bratton

12 Most Unforgettable Creed Thoughts | The Office | COZI Dozen

Yes, Creed Bratton was a perfect character, but let’s face the facts: He’s definitely killed at least one person.

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Meredith Palmer

Meredith Palmer

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Speaking of perfect characters, there’s also Meredith-freaking-Palmer. Perfect, brilliant, no notes, and 100% the blueprint for Abbott Elementary’s Melissa Schemmenti. But if I had to think of a reason she’d be canceled, it’d probably be her inability to not sexually harass every man who set foot in the office, flashing every one of her co-workers, or trading sex for steak with business partners— which, honestly, I have no issues with.

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