Rumours that NBC is planning a reboot of The Office for their Peacock streaming service are swirling; here's why it will fail
The Office is one of, if not the, greatest TV shows ever made. After a slow first season, the US version of Ricky Gervais' UK series became its own beast, combining a stellar ensemble cast with brilliant writing and clever direction to deliver some of the best comedy in TV history. It is currently the most-streamed TV show in North America and shows no signs of slowing down even though the last episode aired back in 2013.
One of the first successful sitcoms to not feature laugh tracks, The Office sports varied comedic range and made great use of their documentary film-style with incredibly awkward and cringey moments that people simply can't help but laugh at, particularly when it is accompanied by dead silence rather than forced laughter. The series' writing was stellar and consistently stayed relevant with current events while still keeping the episodes grounded and enjoyable even if you weren't aware of the satirical aspects, making the show hold up well even years after airing which many series simply can't claim.
With the increasing political correctness and the parasitic nature of cancel culture nowadays, the show is more relevant than ever and frankly many of the most beloved episodes would not be cleared to air in today's climate. NBC is amongst the biggest cavers when it comes to today's cancel culture and social media hypersensitivity; could you imagine how quickly a new series would be canned if something similar to The Office's "Diversity Day" aired today? We've already seen episodes of The Office edited to exclude "controversial" scenes on Netflix, such as Michael's hanging gag in season 6's "Koi Pond"; while older series seem to escape much criticism, new ones are blasted by social justice warriors anytime something "offensive" or politically incorrect makes its way to television, particularly on major networks which seem incapable of sticking up for their creative teams or common sense.
In April 2020, NBC is launching their own streaming service dubbed Peacock. So far the launch lineup is quite light and frankly compared to other major streaming offerings available and in the pipeline it seems destined for failure - major networks are all getting in on the streaming game and seemingly missing the point of why it is so popular, but that's a rant for another time. Amongst the limited lineup of announced titles are reboots of Saved by the Bell and Battlestar Galactica, while The Office is completely absent thanks to Netflix owning streaming rights through December 2020 (which they paid an arm and a leg for). Parks and Recreation, a "sister" series to The Office which shares the same style and features many of the same production staff, also won't be appearing on Peacock until October of 2020 when its streaming rights revert back to NBC in a similar situation.
With no major flagship exclusive to launch their streaming service with, rumours have swirled for quite some time about an Office reunion season, though some like Steve Carell have vehemently denied it's in the works. Some photos shared by the show's actors recently on social media show many of the series' cast reuniting for a get together, but with some major characters missing and without any other signs it appears to be a pipe dream for the time being.
Rumours have since turned to talk of NBC planning a reboot of the series instead.
Something akin to Parks and Recreation could work well and satiate fans of the two series - using the same filming style and following a "normal" business or office with a colourful ensemble cast and strong lead without copying the characters and storyline. While unlikely to bottle the same lightning as The Office, a series made in the same style can easily garner a solid following and possibly be another steady series like Parks and Rec was. But that isn't going to convince many into shelling out cash for another streaming service.
Instead, it would appear to be that a more traditional reboot is in the works if the rumours are to be believed - a retelling of the story with a new cast and crew and banking on the series' name and nostalgia to boost interest.
If this is true, NBC is destined for failure.
For starters, the series isn't very old - the first episode aired back in 2005 but it didn't end until 2013, and the entire series is available in high quality on Netflix (and of course later it will be on NBC's streaming service in its entirety). It doesn't need to be redone to appeal to a new generation as it already is extremely popular even to younger viewers, and is very much a part of the current generation's mainstream consciousness. It also isn't in a genre that's special effects heavy whatsoever which is why some other franchises can get away with reboots regularly because of advances in technology - The Office does not fall into that category, and thanks to the current social climate, it is arguably an even more relevant and fun watch now than when it first aired.
The biggest issue with a reboot however would be the cast - the entire crew of the show is forever linked to those characters. This isn't just one or two iconic characters which people may get outraged over replacement announcements at first but get over with time, but an entire crew that became those characters. Steve Carell is Michael Scott. Rainn Wilson is Dwight Schrute. John Krasinski is Jim Halpert. There is no way to simply replace those actors after 9 seasons of such a revered show that is going to get fans of the series on board.
It would be one thing if a few decades had passed since the show was made, but that simply isn't the case here, and if anything, it feels as though almost no time at all has passed thanks to how rewatchable the series is and how easy it is to access. Not to mention constant references and memes from the show all over the internet that further reinforce that feeling for fans.
Instead, a reboot of the series would do more to alienate fans of The Office than it would bring them to their service.
The way I see it, is NBC has two feasible options to try to capitalize on The Office's popularity for their streaming service:
1) A New "Sister" Series like Parks and Rec
This one is simple. While Parks and Recreation never reached the same heights as The Office, its lovable cast and identical style had a strong following and found solid success for the network over its 7 seasons. The series even helped launch the A-list mega-career of Chris Pratt, who went from a lovable fat guy in Parks and transformed into a shredded Marvel hero in Guardians of the Galaxy and later a heroic raptor-tamer in Jurassic World. It's basically a supercharged version of John Krasinski's career, with The Office's loveable dork Jim Halpert turning into a high-profile actor in films like A Quiet Place and Amazon Prime's Jack Ryan series.
A new show in the same vein, with the same filming style and premise but in a new locale and field with all-new characters could prove fruitful with a strong cast. Utilizing writers and producers of The Office and Parks and Recreation would ensure quality and fans of both series would tune in, especially with marketing emphasizing the connection. Most importantly, it wouldn't sully The Office's name like a reboot likely would and would entice the legion of Office fans into giving it a shot.
2) A Reunion Season and Possible Spin-Off
Now this one is a no-brainer - simply bring back the original cast for one last season. While Steve Carell has been outspoken against the idea, money talks, and it's well worth throwing some money at the actors to get them to reprise their roles one last time. Even if only for a limited series to catch up with the show's characters after some years have passed, say 6 or 10 episodes, it would still be a massive draw and garner plenty of interest from series fans.
Long term of course this won't be sustainable - many of the stars simply aren't going to stay in it for another long haul and it would also run the risk of growing stale or running out of ideas, like virtually every long running show. Instead, for a long-term plan, The Office already has an ace in the hole: The Farm.
One of the last episodes of the ninth season saw Dwight reunite with his family after his aunt died and shed more light on how exactly Dwight got to be so...Dwight. The episode was pitched as a backdoor pilot episode for a spinoff called The Farm, which of course would star Rainn Wilson as Dwight and delve deeper into his life on his farm and the relationships he has with his family.
The series unfortunately never got picked up and critics didn't take much to the episode, but over time the fans have welcomed the idea and a series centred on Dwight is the next best thing next to more seasons of The Office. It could easily feature plenty of cameos and guest appearances from The Office's cast, and Rainn Wilson himself has always been on board with the idea. After all, episodes involving Dwight's farm have always featured great laughs and absurdities that could easily propel along a series, particularly if it isn't a typical TV sitcom length with 20+ episodes in a season, and instead follows a more streamable episode order.
If NBC really wants Peacock to be a success, they should bring back The Office for a reunion season and double down on the tone that propelled the series to its current heights. The "woke" crowds on Twitter and other social media aren't the ones purchasing the products and watching the shows they complain about, as shown by all of the series and products that pander to that crowd plummeting in viewership and sales. If executives at major networks had any sense, they'd be churning out politically incorrect and "offensive" content as it gets effortless publicity and has shown to increase interest.
If NBC wants my money and the money of all the loyal Office fans around the world, they should not shy away from saying something funny even if it's "politically incorrect" or "controversial". Have the full, unedited episodes of The Office on Peacock when Netflix's contract is up, restoring the censored scenes to their prior glory. Bring some other shows into the fold with the same comedic values as The Office. And finally, tell any social justice warriors that aren't fans of offensive or politically incorrect comedy to respectfully take their complaints, write them down on a piece of paper, fold it in half three times, write their name on it...then shove it up their butts.