Last week, Claire Zulkey and I got into a heated AIM-gument about the current direction of The Office, as it has now become clear that it will be Karen, the gorgeous sophisticated saleswoman played by Rashida Jones, and not distance, keeping Pam and Jim apart.
The Office viewers of course saw this coming a mile away (when Karen appeared in the first episode my friend and I looked at each other and said "oh no!") So this weekend, we thought it would be fun to make tshirts and have a big pretend fight and pit Office fans against each other, because we're apparently not too busy to enjoy doing volunteer work for the underpriviledged folks at the NBC marketing department.
Claire's long-ass essay is below. My short one can be found on her blog. And yes, with the help of Claire's enterprising boyfriend Steve, we really did design tshirts, and you can choose a side and buy one here.
WHY I'M ON TEAM KAREN
By Claire Zulkey
So I was glad when Jim ran away to the Stamford office after being humiliatingly spurned by Pam....
Running away was a sissy thing to do which is why I liked it. Jim could sometimes teeter on the edge of being a little too Lloyd Dobler--too perfectly sensitive and quirky and sincere. I'm glad Jim didn't stand outside Pam's wedding with a stereo blasting Peter Gabriel.
While in Stamford, Jim's met a new co-worker named Karen, played by the supercool Rashida Jones. Unlike the other female characters in the show, Karen is the in the same department as Jim, so they work more closely together. Not unpredictably, to ratchet up the tension, the writers of the show have created a little chemistry between the two. And I'm loving it. I'm maybe one of the few, though, I just went to IMDB and on the John Krasinski message boards, readers are howling about how much they hate Karen and how they'll turn off the show if Jim and Karen get together.
I wholeheartedly disagree. I went from merely liking Karen to cheering for her, now, to get with Jim.
I understand why I'm in the minority. Since Karen is a newer character we don't have as much background on her and we don't empathize with her as much. We don't know how she feels about her job, or what her life has been like up 'til now, whereas we know that Pam really wants to be a children's book illustrator and that her life has been full of sad little disappointments thus far (some that I find due to her annoying passivity). However, if you want empathy, just watch Karen's face as Jim tells her that she should take the job in New York instead of Scranton. Gah. I'm clutching my heart right now.
I also like Karen because, while she's a little awkward like Pam, it's in a slightly different vein. While Pam is more of the sweet dork in Keds and cardigans, I see Karen more as a closeted nerdette who enjoys playing computer games with the boys. I like she-nerds.
Plus, I like the dynamic between Karen and Jim more. They don't know each other as well yet, but I feel like Pam and Jim are more immature together--or maybe I'm just getting sick of all the joking around being so much more. When Karen and Jim flirt, it seems smarter, more adult--it also helps that Jim is (or was) in an office that expected more of him than at one where he was languishing, where his flirtation with Pam served not only as an emotional outlet but as a way to fight boredom as well. Maybe I just like that Karen thought Jim was a doofus when she first met him (and did a great impression of him) which makes it seem less puppy-dog.
However, I told Lindsay that one thing pretty much summed up why I am Team Karen: on last week's episode, while Pam tried subtly to disertain whether Jim would be returning to the Scranton office, Karen looked at the camera and declared "I'm kinda into him." Go Karen--no pussyfooting around!
It might just be of course that I subconsciously always root for the girl with the darker hair. Who knows.
This is all not to say that I am anti-Pam. In addition to being on Team Pam, I am now on Team Roy (Have you seen him lately?) So I hope Pam finds love...with Roy.