Ricky Gervais has built a career on being outrageous and pushing the comedic envelope. Whether it be headlining a comedy special or hosting an awards show, Gervais’ acerbic wit is almost always guaranteed to stir the pot. He’s definitely had an exceptional career full of milestones, but his most well-known accomplishment, is perhaps, being the creator of The Office.
The show began as a sitcom on the BBC, which ran for two seasons and featured Gervais in a starring role. The popularity of that series led to NBC and Greg Daniels remaking the production for American audiences. Gervais became a producer for the reinvention, which had Steve Carrell leading a phenomenal cast and lasted for 9 seasons. It’s now considered one of the best comedy programs of all time.
And while The Office continues to be beloved, there’s recently been a lot of speculation as to whether the mockumentary could be made in today’s world. Gervais, for one, doesn’t think so, pointing at the current “cancel culture” trend that leads to public outrage when sensitive topics are broached.
During a recent interview with the Times of London Radio, Gervais touched on the issue, commenting that:
I think now it would suffer because people take things literally. There’s these outrage mobs who take things out of context. This was a show about everything. It was about difference, it was about sex, race, all the things that people fear to even be discussed or talked about now in case they say the wrong thing and they’re “canceled.” And the BBC have gotten more and more careful and people just want to keep their jobs. So, people would worry about some of the subjects and some of the jokes, even though they were clearly ironic, and we were laughing at this buffoon being uncomfortable around difference.
The comedian extraordinaire goes on to suggest that The Office wouldn’t be as effective because it would lose some of the context that made the jokes work. Again, he believes it’s the trend of “canceling” that would block the show from happening. His reasoning is because people are now “scared” of that kind of humor. He pushes the thought further, too, specifically stating that:
“…They’re even more scared now because people don’t take an explanation for an answer, they just say, ‘Well, I don’t want to see it, so let’s ban it.’”
There is certainly a kernel of truth to what Ricky Gervais is saying. Many people have had their work scrutinized recently for insensitive viewpoints and jokes, some fairly and some not so much. While there’s no way to know for sure, it very well could be that The Office would push too many buttons to be on the air today.