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Highlights on Off The Ball


The OTB Culture Hall of Fame - EP3 | Stefanie Preissner on The US Office

We've been inducting extraordinary works of movie and television into our NOW TV OTB Culture Hall...


The OTB Culture Hall of Fame - EP3 | Stefanie Preissner on The US Office

We've been inducting extraordinary works of movie and television into our NOW TV OTB Culture Hall of Fame, with Rocky III and Gladiator making the cut so far.

This week we're turning to a comedic cult classic, as writer, actress, and columnist Stefanie Preissner joined Ger and Eoin on OTB AM to discuss her love for The Office (U.S. version).

"I just don't think there is another show that is as charming, witty, and humorous as The US Office. I think it is miles away from its UK counterpart, and I think that comes from being so character-driven.

"The characters are some of the most nuanced that I've ever seen. It's nearly impossible not to get a laugh when you see the chemistry the characters have with one another.

"And that's quite difficult to do - there's hard comedy and soft comedy. Hard comedy is your broad strokes, it's often physical and very broad, so someone falling down the stairs in a very funny way, like Fawlty Towers. You don't have to have watched an episode to get a laugh.

"Soft comedy is really, really hard, but what The Office does is it mixes hard and soft comedy. You have something that is objectively funny, like Dwight Schrute setting fire to the office in one of the cold openings.

"The soft comedy comes from the fact that we know Dwight is the fire officer of the building and has, time and again, been trying to get people to take his role seriously. They just do it so well.

"It's something that you can just turn on the TV [for] and enjoy because of the hard comedy, but there's a really nice pay-off for people who watch every episode because of the soft comedy, the Easter eggs you get."

Eoin says he feels as though much of the charm of the Steve Carell version of the show comes from the writing, and a change of tack after Season One.

"If you watch it chronologically... there is a huge change of the character of Michael Scott. Michael Scott in Season One, because the script is very similar, is an American version of David Brent, he's not charming at all.

"I'm a fan of The [UK] Office as well but I think the American Office is a hell of a lot better. It's more universal because Michael Scott is a more charming character, they take the edges off him completely in Season Two.

"They get rid of the slicked back hair, they get rid of some of the lines that, when you look back seem a lot more cheeky. That shift from the writers... is the single biggest reason why it becomes this charming show."

Ger questioned whether The UK Office deserves a little bit more credit and respect for creating the characters and themes that became the American version. Stefanie though argues there were clear reasons why the UK show didn't take off as much.

"The UK Office ran out of steam because The US Office was successful once it took off, once it stopped doing what The UK Office was - it was depressing, the characters are stuck in a kind of purgatory for years on end longing for something different but never finding it.

"The American one took that and made it hopeful, [and] we went with them. There's nothing more depressing than watching depressed people stay in a depressing setting and finding it depressing.

"Yeah it was a springboard, but a really depressing springboard that no-one wants to continue watching. I also find Ricky Gervais incredibly depressing."

Conflicting feelings arose around John Krasinski's character Jim Halpert - and while Eoin thinks he is the most overrated character on television, Stefanie feels his relationship with Pam Beesly is his saving grace.

"I think it does redeem him eventually. But when you look at it with a 2020 lense, and especially a feminist lens, he is an incredibly problematic character.

"He kisses a woman who he knows is engaged, he is the bully continuously and he bullies Dwight. He is all of those things that are velcroed onto him to give him humour and texture, [but] when you look at him as an overall character he is probably a little bit problematic.

"It's his relationship with Pam, and the love that he shows her, that does redeem him. In the later seasons he becomes quite sympathetic to Dwight and allows Dwight to take the lead and he becomes his assitant or wingman.

"It's like 'fair play Jim'. I think we know in the real-world Jim could do anything that he wanted and he could have gone off and done his sports / athlete company. He gives up personal ambitions for these people who he has come to love in this workplace."

Catch up on previous episodes of The OTB Culture Hall of Fame:

Episode One - Andy Lee on the magic of Rocky III.

Episode Two - Dermot Kennedy on his obsession with Gladiator.

The OTB Culture Hall of Fame is brought to you by NOW TV, where you can stream classic Box Sets, the latest award-winning TV shows and unmissable movies with a new premier every day. Visit to check out the wide variety of great entertainment and movie options.

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Eoin Sheahan Ger Gilroy Now TV Off The Ball Otb Am Sport Stefanie Preissner The Office The Office US