Meet The Boss
Can—and should—The Office survive without Steve Carell?
The Office has finally crowned its new king, and it’s not James Spader. After weeks of NBC teasing Spader as the possible new boss of Dunder Mifflin, the show pulled a fast one and revealed that Andy Bernard (Ed Helms), salesman and a cappella singing extraordinaire would serve as the new office manager at Dunder Mifflin.
Ever since Steve Carell announced that he would be leaving the hit show at the end of the season last year, fans and critics alike have been buzzing about who would replace him and speculating whether or not the series could even survive without him. After the season premiere last week, it seems like some of those questions have been answered.
In terms of ratings and viewership, the premiere was down 11 percent in the key 18-49 demographic that advertisers focus on when compared to last year’s premiere. In total viewers, the premiere had an audience of 7.64 million people—last year’s premiere had 8.40 million viewers last year. It’s not a significant drop off, but it should also be noted that according to TV by the Numbers, this is the lowest rated premiere since the first season.
Last night’s episode saw a decline in viewership in the key demo by 13 percent and had an audience of 6.60 million viewers. Not the best sign, but almost every show Thursday night saw a decline in numbers when compared to last week’s ratings.
And what exactly have people been saying about the new boss? Most critics seem to agree that having Andy as the new boss is an interesting choice, but they also note that the show seems to be replicating the old formula of storytelling that The Office used in the early seasons. The show seems to be, creatively, hitting a wall and instead of using Andy as a way to employ character development and inject new life into the show, the writers are trying to go back to the basics and reuse some of the same scenarios Michael Scott found himself in and, honestly, did better.
The Office is no doubt, far beyond its glory days, but I’ll admit the show still surprises me from time to time with great episodes. I thought the season premiere was a good attempt at starting the transition to a new boss. Last night’s episode, however, was a mixed bag for me. The episode seemed reminiscent of a story they’ve already told and I wasn’t a fan of the pregnancy walk side plot, but I couldn’t help but feel a little warm and fuzzy inside towards the end as Andy once again pulled through for his co-workers.
We are, however, only two episodes into the season and The Office has a tendency of being hit or miss as stated previously. We’ll just have to wait and see if having the “Nard Dog” will actually breathe new life into the show or if we’ll just be getting a second-rate Michael Scott each week. As for the question, “can the show survive?” Even though ratings have declined, The Office is still NBC's highest-rated comedy and I think the show still has a large enough fanbase for it to continue on for for at least another season or two.
But I think the question now isn't whether or not can the show go on but rather should the show go on? Tough call.