With the movie David Brent: Life on the Road being released on Netflix today, I decided to give my thoughts on the British version of The Office, which the film is a sequel to. I’ll mainly compare it to the American version that aired on NBC. Before I delve into this, just known I might be a little biased towards the US version (it being my favorite show of all time).
Well apart from drastically different tones of humor, the most obvious similarity is David Brent (Ricky Gervais) and Michael Scott (Steve Carell). Michael Scott can be mean, ill-tempered, and racist (although all fiercely denied by himself), but he has many moments where he shows that he is truly just a nice guy that gets a little too worked up. Think of him going to Pam’s art show and buying her painting, or the finale scene with him showing everyone the pictures of his kids on two phones.
David Brent however, is a rude and downright annoying guy. Some people attribute this to British humor being more negative, but to me, an American, it just doesn’t cut it. Brent has a sort of redeeming moment in the last 5 minutes of the show with scenes showing him on a date, but it’s not enough for two seasons full of irritation. Although, to be fair, the UK version did not have even close to the amount of time the US version had to develop the boss character. 200+ episodes here in the states compared to 13 across the pond.
Another great parallel is Jim and Pam to Tim and Dawn. Series length comes into great effect, here as the US version has a full nine seasons of ‘Jam’ while the UK version has just two incredibly short seasons of ‘Tawn.’ While Jim and Pam have an epic love story, I will say that with the time they had, the UK version did an amazing job developing Tim and Dawn’s relationship.
One last character comparison is Gareth and Dwight. First off, Gareth is hands down much weirder than Dwight, but this is not necessarily a bad thing. Dwight is my favorite character in the show and with good reason, but I think Gareth in his own way does just as good a job as Dwight in terms of providing laughs.
Both versions of The Office are all-time great comedies, but they were made for vastly different demographics. I enjoyed my binge of the Brits, but my heart will always be with Dunder Mifflin.