Like everything from cultural imperialism to one specific type of muffin, The Office was a British idea copied by the Americans.
Both the British and American versions of The Office have been stormed the ratings, both the British and American versions of The Office have mined comedy from awkward and mundane situations and both the British and American versions of The Office have spawned movie stars, as seen in everything from Get Smart to Love, Actually to Pirates Of The Caribbean to that rubbishy George Clooney film about American football.
But which is better – the British Office or the American Office? It’s a debate that everyone has an opinion on but nobody has comprehensively won. And that’s why we’re here now. Using a complex scientific algorythm based on five categories, we’ve decided to find out which version of The Office is best. You may disagree with us if you like. Just know that if you do, you’re wrong…
The most important factor of The Office is the manager, whether it’s Britain’s David Brent or America’s Michael Scott, because the entire show hangs around their actions. Both are essentially the same character – awkward, overcompensatory show-offs without a shred of self-awareness – but, although Michael Scott has long since developed into a more rounded character, he’s never quite managed to capture the stupefying arrogance of David Brent.
UK: 1 – US: 0
BEST LOVE STORY
Tim and Dawn or Jim and Pam? Same syllables. Same longing looks. Same dowdy cuteness and unflattering haircuts. But, again, the difference between the British Office and the American Office is one of time. It was easy to string out Tim and Dawn’s unspoken office romance over the two short seasons of the BBC Office, ending the entire show with the flourish everyone craved. That wouldn’t work with Jim and Pam because there are just too many episodes of the NBC Office for it to stay fresh. That’s why we had to suffer through uncomfortably daytime soapish exchanges like the one above before they actually got together. And stayed together. And got a bit boring. Another point to the UK.
UK: 2 – US: 0
BEST SUPPORTING CAST
Here’s where the sheer amount of NBC Office episodes actually work. Although funny, the BBC Office supporting characters are never more than broad sketches, and most scenes they’re in all depend on reactions to or from Ricky Gervais for humour. Meanwhile, over on NBC, some of the best comedy writer-performers around have been cast to flesh out the parts and create a network that exists outside of Michael Scott’s involvement. It’s probably the American Office‘s greatest achievement, so it can claw back a point here.
UK:2 – US: 1
That’s what she said
A big one – what will each respective version of The Office be most fondly remembered for. The BBC’s Office, without question, has The Dance – a moment that won’t only be reenacted in pubs and playgrounds until the end of time, but will ensure that even if he cures cancer and wins the Nobel Prize, someone at the ceremony will yell “DO THE DANCE!” at Ricky Gervais. And he will do it. Meanwhile, NBC has “That’s what she said,” a smart, short, sophisticated line that anybody can drop into any conversation without looking too much like a copycat bellend. Plus people won’t think you’re a tit if you do it in public, which pushes it a million light years past The Dance.
UK: 2 – US: 2
The Office – Lady Suit
A contentious one, we know – it’s difficult enough to get people to agree on the funniest moments from any given episode of The Office regardless of which country it’s made, let alone the entirity of both shows combined. But screw it, this is our list and it’s scientific and if you don’t agree then you hate science. In the UK Office, Ricky Gervais grabs a serious moment and spins it into the stratosphere, while Steve Carrell’s scene is a masterpiece of escalation. But science tells us that Gervais shades it. You hear that, haters? SCIENCE.
UK: 3 – US: 2
So that’s it. Conclusive proof that the British version of The Office is slightly funnier than the American version of The Office. However, if we were doing a side-by-side comparison of British and American versions of Extras, America would have won. Even though there isn’t an American version of Extras. Basically we’re saying that Extras wasn’t particularly good.