Every sitcom has romance in some capacity, whether serious or not. "Friends," "Parks and Recreation," "How I Met Your Mother," etcetera. We not only get to see the hilarities of the characters' day-to-day activities, but we also see some or all of them fall in love. "The Office" also falls under this category, but something has always distinguished this show in my mind regarding love and relationships. I never truly understood it until I finished all 10 seasons. (I stopped for a while after season eight, but decided to finish it to see the finale.)
The main romance in the show is between Jim Halpert and Pam Beasley. Similarly to many other tv shows, a few seasons go by before they get together. The show provides the realistic excitement of Pam almost getting married, Jim confessing his love, kissing Pam, and then being rejected. He leaves for a while for another job and Pam calls off her wedding. After having relationships with other people for a season, they finally get together, fulfilling the typical waiting period that most shows follow because it can never be easy.
The beauty of their relationship is how normal it is. There's no such thing a perfect timing. Jim tells Pam he loves her weeks before her wedding and gets rejected. It's awkward. Not just that, it's real-life awkward. When they're dating long-distance Jim proposes to Pam at a gas station in the rain. There's no ceremony, no huge gesture, just two people in love living the most normal life any of us could imagine. It's not like Ben's proposal to Leslie on "Parks and Recreation" (though I adore that show), where he comes to their new house just at the perfect moment to catch Leslie by surprise. The writers of the show used the normalcy that they embraced throughout the entire show to provide us with realistic characters in love. Jim and Pam's lives are so utterly normal that the problems they face are those that we can face, such as how divorcing parents affect your romantic relationship.
This approach on Jim and Pam's relationship allowed the writers to display how a couple that learned to love each other through faces problems they cannot control Before their marriage, Jim and Pam also faced a challenge that occurs to some people as well: an unplanned pregnancy. Many shows give an unplanned pregnancy a negative connotation. Usually, there is deliberation regarding what the couple will "decide." "The Office" puts this term in a positive light. After finding out, both Jim and Pam are so incredibly happy. For the rest of the show they use the term in a positive manner, explaining how their child, though "unplanned," was wanted. Jim and Pam show us that a child is not only a blessing but also a greater fulfillment and representation of the love shared between them. They had plans set for their lives, but their openness to children at any time allowed for them start a family in the midst of any career goals they possessed.
In many sitcoms, after the characters that are "meant to be" fall in love, there are usually no further serious issues between them. They have to deal with other problems that don't revolve around their relationship. Marriage seems to be the ultimate fix, but that's unrealistic and we all should know that by now. The final season of "The Office" provided TV viewers with one of the most beautiful aspects of love and a committed relationship: the ability to rekindle love and romance after it seems to be fading. This is a necessary aspect of all relationships. The beginning of a relationship is called "the honeymoon phase" for a reason. Relationships are difficult, and loving someone is a choice. It's not fate. It's not destiny. It's a choice that two people make every day.
In the final season, as Jim works in a different city, the long-distance nature of their relationship starts to take a toll. We see both Jim and Pam start to lose faith in their marriage, thinking that they are falling out of love. This struggle continues the entire season. At a certain point they make a choice to try to stay together and go to marriage counseling. As they try the monotonous counseling exercises for a while it seems as though nothing is working. Then the writers give us one of the most heartfelt scenes I have ever viewed. As Jim is about to get in a taxi for his job in Philadelphia, Pam runs out of the office building to give him his umbrella. After Jim takes it he looks at Pam and then hugs her. They just hug. It's awkward for a while watching these two people who seemed "no longer in love" interact in such a way, but then they both know why they're together. A clip of their wedding and their vows appears for a few seconds, and they are reminded of the vow they made: to love and stay with each other for the rest of their lives. Once again, no huge romantic gesture, no easy fix. Their love is as difficult and even awkward at times as it is in reality.
Sadly, we live in a society where divorces occur so often that people always think they will have a way out when life gets difficult. Having a sitcom present a couple that makes it through what may end many relationships or marriages is beautiful and necessary in today's culture. It's what we need to see more of in our society. We need more people and couples who acknowledge that difficulty is a part of life and love. Love isn't like the movies or most TV shows. Jim and Pam give us an incredible example of how to love in a world where the crazy scenarios in television and movies probably won't happen to us. We need to learn how to love in reality, not fantasy, and "The Office" gave us some solid guidelines.