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‘The Office’ does ‘weight loss’

By Ben-Peter Terpstra - posted Friday, 4 December 2009

“You Blogged. We listened.”

At least, that’s Network Ten’s marketing-friendly reason for screening The Office (Season Five) this summer, from December 1. So what’s so exciting?

More relevance:

The American documentary-style comedy is the cleverest show around. Even sharper than the BBC’s version. In this hilarious start to the season, The Office tackles the politics of fat, with an inter-branch weight loss competition. What we see though is a pool of sweaty tears, bodies dripping with disappointments.


“I am on my third day of my cleanse diet,” says office worker Kelly, the now sick-looking Indian bimbo. “All I have to do is drink maple syrup, lemon juice, cayenne pepper and water for all meals.”

But it’s easy to fall off the mental wagon. “I swallowed a tapeworm last night.”

Kelly sincerely believes the worm will grow up to three feet and eat her food. “And then after three months, I take some medicine and then pass it. Creed sold it to me. It’s from Mexico.”

Given the hysteria surrounding obesity - from anorexia in the 90s to today’s allegedly fat schoolchildren, the issue is an important one. Aren’t we all tired of nanny-dependent eaters? And worriers who talk endlessly about diets?

More affairs:

Indeed, even a male office worker embraces extreme-dieting to better his body.” I’m excited to lose weight for the wedding, because I really want to have washboard abs the first time Angela sees me naked,” confesses Andy, a Prius-driving, global-warmer/Ivy-League graduate with anger management issues. “Every little boy fantasises about his fairytale wedding.”

Angela, a vegetarian Christian evangelical, who is more green than Christian, however, is continuing her secret relationship with Dwight, a population-control nut.


The most laughably improper affair in television history, of course. Pathetic, indeed. And yet … it manages to tell us so much about the human condition - even more than my copy of A Critical Dictionary of Psychoanalysis by Charles Rycroft.

Forget morality for a second. People who have affairs aren’t necessarily God’s cleverest creatures, stresses The Office.

More cultural issues:

Like past seasons, the comedy continues to exploit the contradictions concerning multiculturalism, politically correct businesses, group therapy, women’s rights, and so on. Unlike many Australian comedies, it is a consistent equal-opportunity offender, with a New World maturity.

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First published in Quadrant Online on November 30, 2009

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About the Author

Ben-Peter Terpstra has provided commentary for The Daily Caller (Washington D.C.), NewsReal Blog (Los Angeles), Quadrant (Sydney), and Menzies House (Adelaide).

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Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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