My favorite episode of The Office? It’s definitely the one where Michael accidentally wears a women’s suit, and then goes to New York to ask for a raise. Wait, wait, no. It’s the episode where Michael threatens to jump off the roof after he’s embarrassed by the warehouse’s safety training. Oh! How could I forget? It’s when Jan and Michael have an incredibly awkward dinner party and break up. No! It’s the one where Jan holds a women in the workplace seminar. But who could forget when Michael dresses up as Willy Wonka?
“The Office isn’t as good as it used to be,” everyone who’s watched the show will tell you, and they’re right. But I grew attached to the characters over that time and I still enjoy its occasional moments of brilliance. I want to know what happens to Jim and Pam and Angela and Oscar and Toby and Daryl and Creed and Meredith and Todd Packer. It’s a sitcom with a great ensemble cast, up there with Seinfeld and Cheers in the great NBC comedy pantheon.
It’s also fun, of course, that The Office happens to be set in Pennsylvania and references Philadelphia occasionally. (Do you think it is lame to feel validated by a television show’s mention of your city? Welcome to Philadelphia! I hope you enjoy living here; you’ll understand this eventually.)What’s great about The Office‘s Philadelphia references is how they avoid making the easy joke. It’s not all Rocky and cheesesteak lines. Several office members are fans of Philly teams (the characters essentially split, like the Scranton area does, between Philly and Pittsburgh fans). Kelly mentions Franklin Mills in her rundown of Pennsylvania malls. A deleted scene shows Michael thinking Allen Iverson is a huge guy. There’s a conference at the Convention Center, an episode where Angela says in her family “looks like someone took the slow train from Philly” is code for “check out the slut.” And Philly’s own Kate Flannery plays office drunk Meredith.
Last Thursday’s premiere hinted at an even greater role for Philly in The Office. Jim, realizing that he’s been stuck on a plot treadmill for the last two seasons, decides to accept his college roommate’s offer of partnering to start a sports management firm in Philadelphia. Jim has always been attracted to the city; he’s a Philadelphia sports fan and his Second Life character was Philly Jim, a sportswriter from Philadelphia. Personally, having the dream job of a popular, attractive television character makes me feel pretty good. And considering Jim turned down a good job offer at corporate in New York City, a sitcom star spurning New York for Philly would be icing on the cake. (Hi again! New here? You’ll get why we’re this way eventually.)
There aren’t too many sitcoms set in Philadelphia; the reigning champion is It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Amen was a decent-if-schmaltzy post-Jeffersons vehicle for Philly native Sherman Helmsley, and there’s an episode in Philly-set Boy Meets World where Cory attends a Jake “The Snake” Roberts-Vader match at The Spectrum. The fourth season of little-watched ‘Til Death was the most surreal sitcom since Get a Life. And, of course, there’s the cartoon Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids. Unfortunately, Kevin Hart’s The Big House—a reverse Fresh Prince where a rich dude moves to Philly—lasted just six episodes.
So we Philadelphia sitcom fans will take the Philly references where we can get them. But Jim and Pam moving to Philly to create their new life in the end? That might be too much.
Where Will Jim and Pam Live in Philadelphia
I’ve been hashing it out over the past week: Where would two yokels from Scranton in their 30s live in Philadelphia? The obvious answer is the Far Northeast, but I could see Jim and Pam moving to Manayunk or even Lower Bucks County, too. Or maybe they’ll be among the gentrifiers in Point Breeze, hiring a babysitter so they could go drink at American Sardine Bar. They’ll move to the suburbs for the schools after five or six years in Philly.
What Will Happen to Jim and Pam in Philadelphia
Jim’s sports management firm idea fails, and after bouncing around for a bit he eventually gets a job as a salesman in South Jersey. He continues to spin his wheels until he starts a Philadelphia sports blog, which becomes a small success when he posts a reader tip about an opposing hockey team in town getting into a fight on the Continental Midtown roof deck. He eventually lands a weekly sports column for The Philly Post. Jim blows off steam by getting Union season tickets and tailgating at every home game in Lot A.
Pam continues her art career, showing off her terrible art at terrible First Friday show that goes unmentioned by the alt-weeklies. Undeterred, her Philly Fringe show about her time as a receptionist for a monster of a boss in Scranton, Pennsylvania, becomes the runaway hit of the 2014 festival.