The hit show The Office, which ended last May, is a prime example of how conservative values can appear in shows, even if it is not clearly apparent. It joins other shows which celebrate hard work and entrepreneurship such as “Shipping Wars” (do a poor job and you won’t receive more work), “Dirty Jobs” (every job is worth something), and “Shark Tank” (good ideas thrive, bad ideas fail).
One of the major themes in The Office is the show’s focus on small businesses. The show portrays many characters as small business owners. They include Michael Scott, Dwight Schrute, Jim, Darrell, Pam, Jan, Kevin, Ryan, and arguably, Creed.
Dwight’s work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit plays well with Michael’s can-do spirit. Throughout most of the series the two are paired together, with Michael as manager and Dwight as his loyal, second-in-command. Oftentimes Dwight misses out on being promoted to manager, but like dominoes, each new hire falls, eventually leading to the series finale, where Dwight is the new manager.
Michael also represents the American can-do spirit. When he is let go from his job as manager he instantly starts another paper business. He later tells the CEO of Dunder Mifflin during buyout negotiations that even if his business goes under he’ll just start another business, and another business after that. It’s the never-say-die attitude that made America great. As Michael says, “The good thing about the American dream is that you can just go to sleep and try it all again the next night.”
The role of manager exemplifies the triumph of conservatism. After the politically incorrect, but loving and dedicated Michael Scott leaves the job, the position cycles through a few different candidates. At the end of the series though, it rightfully returns to a conservative. Is it the metrosexual, spoiled Ivy Leaguer Andy Bernard? Is it the lazy, unfocused co-manger Jim Halpert? Nope, it’s the hardworking, entrepreneurial, dedicated conservative Dwight Schrute who ends the series as manager.
On a deeper level, we see how one of the more conservative characters, Dwight Schrute, is treated. Dwight is repeatedly the one mocked and pranked in the show. Jim, the personification of an immature employee (does not work hard, expects to be promoted despite being lazy) is originally elevated. However, by the end of the season, it is the conservative, hard-working Dwight Schrute who ends up as the manager.
The show is particularly relevant today when compared to other shows that promote hard-working values, like “Dirty Jobs”, hosted by Mike Rowe (who supported and campaigned with Mitt Romney in 2012). Do we need more shows that highlight hard work and being a driven person? Some other shows today still exemplify that idea. “Shipping Wars” highlights independent, self-employed contractors who compete for business hauling items across the country. If they do not do a good job or don’t win enough bids, they don’t make any money. They must either work or go hungry. The show “Shark Tank” promotes capitalism and venture capitalism; the best ideas with the best inventors receive investments and consulting from top-notch investors and business leaders, while the bad ideas are denied funding.
Other shows like “Hardcore Pawn” and “Storage Wars” also show how hard work and luck can lead to either successful, profitable days, or huge, money-losing mistakes. It is this risk-taking and hard work which built America, and Hollywood would be wise to celebrate it.
An early version of this article originally appeared at brennerbrief.com.