Why We Watch ‘The Office’ at Our House

TV-14: Parents strongly cautioned. May be unsuitable for children ages 14 and under.

Common Sense Media Rating: Pause for kids 14 & under.

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My girls are 9 and 11, and we watch The Office together, despite its sometimes questionable subject matter, almost always related to sex. And here’s why.

Top Ten Reasons We Watch The Office:

10) Plain and simple, it is a laugh-out-loud (and in my case snortably) hilarious television show. And because both my girls understand sarcasm and subtle humor now, it’s terribly satisfying to sit and guffaw together over the same jokes and ridiculous characters.

9) Bonding. We’re connected and engaged, rather than split up and focused on individual activities. That happens often enough as it is.

8) My kids can handle it. They’re wise little beings. They grasp the division between what’s appropriate (and what isn’t), therefore they also know how to proceed (or not) with anything gained by viewing this particular show.

Here’s where I will note, the rude humor is stuff they only understand in nuance, anyway. The adult jokes are over their heads, so if I don’t make a big deal about them, there’s not a single thing to stress about.

7) Diversity. I can’t think of an instance when diversity isn’t a good thing.

6) Reality. The Office illustrates realistic conflict, relationships, and personalities, unlike a lot of what’s on TV.

5) It encourages compassion. Really. My girls exhibit compassion during every episode, without fail. Usually when Michael and/or Dwight gets mocked, or has hurt feelings. (But we’ve each always been soft for a good underdog.)

4) They are learning about the human condition, subtly, without even realizing they’re learning.

3) Steve Carell

2) Exposure. Let’s face it, kids are exposed to concepts, words, experiences, all the time, at school and on the bus, at friends’ houses, with extended family, through social media, etc. We have limited control over that stuff. But supervised exposure should happen at home, in an open, honest environment.

If we avoid serious content and uncomfortable subject matter, or shelter our kids entirely, they will be nothing but naive and unprepared for the nature of life. I would much rather sit through an awkward scene with my girls and find myself answering the consequential questions, or having a frank (if squeamish) dialogue, in the moment, than completely ignore the very things they’ll soon enough be faced with and, because I didn’t put in the work early, have to do damage control.

1) My girls are absorbing what is unacceptable from a significant other (Roy), and what is totally right (Jim). This is one of the biggest, weightiest lessons I want to impart as their mother. No one ever got anywhere healthy (or happy) with a Roy. I know firsthand. And no, I don’t want them thinking about romantic relationships yet. But I want for the ideas of respect, kindness, sincerity, integrity, to be planted now. They should accept nothing less when the time comes.

Do you like The Office?

What are your thoughts about kids as viewers?

How does your approach vary from mine when it comes to sensitive subject matter?

photo credit: NBC

Comments

3 comments on “Why We Watch ‘The Office’ at Our House”
  1. jamiejokcmo says:

    I love The Office! Though I will admit I stopped watching after Steve Carell left.

    When I was a kid my parents were very strict about what I watched on TV. My dad made me stop watching the show Felicity because Felicity loses her virginity at the end of season one. And I was fifteen-years-old. I know they did what they thought was best but I think they let a lot of teachable moments go in favor of sheltering me. I don’t plan to do the same with my kids.

    1. Janna Qualman says:

      Jamie, my girls and I are already mourning that change… (We know it’s coming, but are only in the 3rd season.)

      I grew up in a structured home, but my parents weren’t really too strict. I remember watching things at a young age (like Revenge of the Nerds), and listening to things (like Color Me Badd’s I Want to Sex You Up) as loud as my bedroom stereo would go. For whatever reasons, they didn’t worry about such things. And I turned out morally conscious, well-behaved, and respectable, so I think no harm was done. 🙂

  2. lisat says:

    I LOVE the Office. Great points you make in your post. My 14 year old daughter & I watch Walking Dead together lol. Cannot think of positive out this activity other than us bonding, ha!

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