Biggest Pop Culture Controversies: The Office (UK) vs. The Office (US)


Every Monday, thanks to our sponsor Oreo Cakesters, we bring you pop culture controversies. We’ve pitted TV’s biggest comedians (Jay Leno vs Conan O’Brien) and Vampires and Sorcerers (Harry Potter vs Twilight) against each other. Up this week: two of TV’s biggest comedies.

“The British one was better!” = An ubiquitous, almost necessary refrain that quickly attached itself to anything written about the first two seasons of the Steve Carell American rebrand, and for a season or two, who could argue? The British Office was, and remains, a landmark achievement in television and humor (humour), providing more simultaneous laughs and insight into human banalities in its tidy two-season run than several entire art movements — how could a remake of an instant classic ever hope to equal, let alone surpass, its original?

Now, however, the American Office is well into its sixth season with no signs of stopping, and has clearly and unarguably carved out its own identity, at least differentiating itself — if perhaps not surpassing — the scope of the original with its expanded universe. The plots and characters have evolved to a level of detail that its intractely scripted predecesor simply couldn’t hope to achieve in its all-too-brief lifespan. Is this artistic dilution? Or just a bunch more awesome episodes of a thing we love?

13 episodes of tidy, impossibly dense, start-to-finish history-making genius, or its expanded, evolved, successully mainstreamed offspring — who do you pick? Who CAN you pick? Feel free to debate away in the comments, or just take the cop-out (and ultimately correct) answer and just love them both “equally,” like your own painfully awkward children.

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