If you want to see how depressing and easily triggered our society has become, then check out Steve Carell’s lamentations about arguably one of his greatest successes, his show “The Office.”
According to an interview with Esquire, Carell was well aware of an upswing in interest for The Office thanks to Netflix and online streaming. Some had even called for it to be brought back on the air.
The problem is that in this day and age when taking offense is trendy, and too many are hypersensitive about jokes to the point where they’d create massive campaigns against it, Carell believes The Office wouldn’t be welcome. Carell says his character, Michael Scott, would be taken far too seriously, and everyone from the network to himself would likely face backlash over a few inappropriate jokes.
But the rules of comedy have changed quite a bit in the last half decade, even in the last year. Jokes and characters that once seemed harmless might now generate social-media outrage, if not boycotts and involuntary sabbaticals. Carell’s thoughts returned to Michael Scott. “Because The Office is on Netflix and replaying, a lot more people have seen it recently,” he said. “And I think because of that there’s been a resurgence in interest in the show, and talk about bringing it back. But apart from the fact that I just don’t think that’s a good idea, it might be impossible to do that show today and have people accept it the way it was accepted ten years ago. The climate’s different. I mean, the whole idea of that character, Michael Scott, so much of it was predicated on inappropriate behavior. I mean, he’s certainly not a model boss. A lot of what is depicted on that show is completely wrong-minded. That’s the point, you know? But I just don’t know how that would fly now. There’s a very high awareness of offensive things today—which is good, for sure. But at the same time, when you take a character like that too literally, it doesn’t really work.”
This is heartbreaking, and not only for the comedians and artists that would like to make quality content and may never get the chance but for we the audience as well.