There are many indicators that the WGA writers’ strike will soon be over. The most reliable one, of course, is that the WGA itself has announced that it will be. There are still some “i’s” to be dotted and some “t’s” to be crossed but after 146 days of picketing, the WGA has come to a tentative agreement with the AMPTP.
If hearing it directly from the horse’s mouth isn’t enough proof, however, there’s another strong reason to suspect that the writers’ strike is wrapping up: we’re already talking about a reboot of The Office again.
The prospect of fresh episodes from one of TV’s most popular and successful sitcoms is never too far from studio executives’ minds. Based on the British version of the same name, the American Office ran for nine well-received seasons and is currently a reliable streaming tentpole – so much so that NBCUniversal paid half a billion dollars to Netflix to get the series back on its native Peacock. An Office reboot is perpetually the industry’s “break glass in case of emergency” contingency. And coming off dual strikes that shut down Hollywood for six months, it seems as though producers are ready to break that glass.
According to Puck News, one of the many new projects that could get rolling once the strike is officially wrapped is a reboot of The Office from original showrunner Greg Daniels. This news has not yet been confirmed by Daniels, NBC, or anyone else involved. But it certainly does not strain credulity that more episodes of the beloved sitcom could be on the way. The big question, however, is: what would they look like? Allow us to make a suggestion.
Any rebooted version of The Office should reflect how the world’s conception of “work” has changed in the show’s time off the air. Our traditional understanding of what work looks like, where you do it, and who you do it with has changed drastically since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down in-person gatherings for more than a year. Studies and surveys vary, but The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that 27% of American workers worked remotely at least part time as of September 2022. Earlier that same year, a Pew Research Center study found that 61% of people working from home did so because they preferred it.
Attitudes surrounding the notion of what an “office” even is have evolved significantly since The Office signed off 2013. A reboot of the show should not only acknowledge that but embrace it.
Creating new episodes of The Office that feature an actual office only sparingly or not at all would be a fascinating creative challenge that could keep the franchise fresh for years to come. Episodes of the show could focus on specific characters and their lives within their own work bubble while periodically getting the whole ensemble together for big work events.
It’s not like there isn’t a precedent for this approach on the original Office either. Many of the best episodes of the series have nothing to do with the office itself and instead feature contrived events to get the cast together to have fun. These include classic installments like “The Dundies,” “Dinner Party,” and “Beach Games.”
Additionally, the aforementioned Greg Daniels has proven himself to be a creative thinker in his approach to shows since The Office. His Prime Video comedy Upload is relentlessly ambitious and inventive, imagining a dystopian near future in which cloud software services have created a digital afterlife. After creating an entire digital estate of dead people’s consciousnesses, having some corporate drones navigate Zoom should be a walk in the park.
Admittedly, taking the office away from The Office would be removing a crucial factor of what has made the show beloved for so many years. The Office is a hang out comedy at its core and one of the reasons why it’s stood the test of time is that viewers like to return to the confines of Dunder-Mifflin to watch characters they care about interact in close quarters. It’s a comfort watch and there’s nothing wrong with that. But if Daniels and company are really going to do this thing again, they should try to aim a little higher than comfortable background noise.