NBC has been home to quite a lot of successful comedy shows over the years, including such immensely popular series as Friends, Seinfeld, Parks and Recreation and 30 Rock. But as beloved as all of those shows have remained, one specific workplace series has become one of modern television’s most influential entries and is still one of Netflix’s most consistently viewed shows even over half a decade after its final episode aired.
The Office has captivated fans all over the world with its lovable and fallible characters, outrageously funny writing and cringe-inducing moments that can make even the most stoic person writhe in humorous discomfort. This is largely thanks to series creators Michael Schur and Greg Daniels, who took what worked about the British version of the show and Americanized it to make it appeal to a broader audience, basically handing NBC a huge hit on a platter and cementing themselves as some of television’s most creative and clever writers.
Of course, the American version of the show follows the workers at a fictional Scranton, PA paper company called Dunder Mifflin as they go about their day-to-day lives both at work and sometimes beyond. Offensive and uncomfortable antics consistently ensue and are most often exacerbated by the branch’s unruly manager, Michael Scott, who remains basically synonymous with The Office thanks to actor Steve Carell’s portrayal of the character as a hilarious blend of affable, incompetent and socially awkward.
The focus on Michael Scott’s unusual management meant that some of the show’s most memorable moments and jokes belonged to him, but they apparently didn’t always come cheap. As a matter of fact, one writer on the series says that she once wrote a joke that cost the network a whopping $60,000.
Jen Celotta recently revealed that she worked on the episode “A Benihana Christmas,” which included Michael singing a famous line from the Eddie Money song “Two Tickets to Paradise” and had no idea that it would cost the network so much money.
“I wrote a joke where Michael says, ‘I got two tickets to paradise.’ And he says, ‘Pack your bags we leave day after tomorrow. At the sound mix, I found out from [producer Kent Zbornak] that was a $60,000 joke. I was like, ‘It’s a fine joke, but none of my jokes I’ve ever written have been $60,000 jokes.’ But I remember not so long after that we had some of our music budget pulled away from us, and I can’t help but think… [I] had no idea that because we sang that song, the song had to be cleared, and that joke was $60,000.”
That’s a lot of money for a joke, but clearly, NBC felt that it was worth it to allow the show to remain unencumbered. And we’re happy they left it in.
The Office is currently streamable in its entirety on Netflix, but it’ll be leaving the platform for NBC’s own Peacock streaming service in January of 2021, a decision that’s left many fans understandably frustrated.