The Office: Broken Fourth Walls and Busted Faces

vlcsnap-2013-02-07-17h58m34s189[NOTE: I realize this post may become obsolete mere hours after it is posted, but I’ve only just completed it and wanted to get it out before tonight’s episode]

Spoilers Abound! (if you’re not caught up)

Two weeks ago, The Office took a bold step and decided to actually reveal the documentary crew who has been filming life at Dunder Mifflin Paper Company (now Sabre, still?) for the past eight-plus years. Midway through its final season, it’s understandable that the show would be open to changing things up in such a big (and maybe distracting and potentially disastrous) way. They don’t really have much left to lose at this point. Still, it’s a very interesting development for the show, which has always kept the documentary crew invisible, though not absent from episodes.

As novel as this change seems, the show has technically been “breaking the fourth wall” since episode one, having the characters to speak directly to the camera in talking-head interviews and allowing them to acknowledge the existence of the camera throughout the series. We knew of the crew’s existence and it mostly worked (I can’t say the same thing for the two seasons of Modern Family I’ve seen, where it always seemed like the talking-head sections were at odds with everything else, even causing temporal conflict at times).

The Office has never really broken the fourth wall from the other side though, allowing the crew a chance to appear on camera Continue reading