Word is out today, via TV Guide's Michael Schneider, that B.J. Novak, a writer and costar on NBC's The Office, is leaving the show effective pretty much immediately. He'll still pop back up as a guest star on occasion, but his full-time employment has ended. Yikes, is there anyone left on this show?
Novak's frequent scene partner (and another writer on the show) Mindy Kaling is also leaving to do The Mindy Project, her own Fox sitcom, for which Novak will act as a consulting producer, and behind-the-scenes staple Paul Lieberstein, the showrunner and the guy who plays sadsack H.R. rep Toby, has departed to go work on a spinoff with Rainn Wilson. So Rainn Wilson, who plays central weirdo Dwight Schrute, will also be leaving Dundler Mifflin in the near future. Basically all that's going to be left pretty soon is Creed and a potted plant. Which could be an interesting show, but it won't be The Office. It's really time to close this branch.
I know, I know, people have been making this argument for years. And though the show could have ended even before its star Steve Carell left two years ago, it soldiered on with at least a little life since. The show hasn't gotten terrible exactly, so we were willing to let it limp on for a while. But now, with the staff exodus thinning the ranks to skeletal levels, it's finally time to put this thing down. It gave a noble post-Carell effort — there were laughs and a few earned tears and that's pretty respectable — but it's now slowing and stalling and becoming a depressing husk of its old self. Not that B.J. Novak was himself such an integral presence on the show, he was good for a quick joke about modern young men once in a while and that's about it, but he did contribute to the general esprit de corps that made the show the show. Without him, Kaling, and Lieberstein (and eventually Wilson), what's the point of The Office existing? It will have lived past its own soul!
It's probably too late to just cancel the upcoming season, especially with stars Jon Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, and Ed Helms still signed on, but we really wish they would. This generation of great NBC sitcoms is coming to an end. 30 Rock is bowing out after a truncated final seventh season, Parks & Recreation is probably not going to go on too much longer, and of course Community has been suffering a slow death since it first aired. It was a nice run, but everything has to end. Forcing The Office to keep hobbling along even more feebly than it hobbled last season feels almost cruel, like shaming a once-proud elderly person right before they die. Let's keep the memories good, people! It may already be too late for some of you — the past few seasons have certainly earned some detractors — but for those of us who held on and kept giving the show chance after chance, watching it rot in a ditch before it's buried is pretty depressing. Our once beautiful thing, now all goo and worms. Sad.
So spare us the sadness, NBC. We know you won't, but we're registering an official request anyway. Get out of The Office business, please. Consider this a memo from corporate to shut down the Scranton branch. It's not productive anymore and it can't hold on to staff. No one needs paper anymore. And sadly we don't need the paper salesmen either.