The Hidden Climate Doom Lurking in ‘The Office’ Winter Episodes

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The Hidden Climate Doom Lurking in ‘The Office’ Winter Episodes

Despite the fact that one of their co-workers is pretty clearly a cold-blooded serial killer, life for the Dunder Mifflin gang from The Office is generally pretty cheery. But unfortunately for Jim, Pam, Stanley, Phyllis, and, to a far lesser extent, that handsome boom mic operator, they all seem to be headed for an apocalyptic climate catastrophe even faster than those of us in the real world. 

Now is the time of year when Office fans will no doubt be tempted to revisit some of the wintery, holiday-themed episodes of the show — and there’s something really odd going on in many of them. Take the episode Classy Christmas, in which Dwight repeatedly pelts Jim with snowballs to the delight of everyone who’s sick to death of Jim’s smirk-heavy vibe. When they’re leaving Dunder Mifflin, Pam wears a light coat, which she doesn’t even bother zipping up, and no hat. Jim, meanwhile, is perfectly comfortable in just his thin suit jacket. 

To put this in perspective, Scranton, Pennsylvania, in the real world, at least, averages December temperatures of a high of 36 degrees and a low of 24 degrees. In other words, way too cold for Jim and Pam to dress like that. Worse still, earlier in the same episode, everybody poses for a staff photo outside the warehouse, and some of them are in friggin’ short sleeves. A few people complain that it’s a bit cold, but no one is worrying about frostbite or screaming profanities. 

And sure, this could all be chalked up to one seasonably warm year — but there are other instances of the same phenomenon occurring in the show. In the fifth season episode, “The Duel,” Michael and the rest of the gang compete to see how fast they can run past a roadside radar gun. It’s a beautiful, sunny day, and absolutely no one is wearing a coat. For context, this episode came out just one week after the Christmas episode, so it's presumably the dead of winter in Scranton.

The same goes for the ninth season episode, “Couple’s Discount.” It's literally set during Valentine’s Day, which, last time we checked, is in February, but everyone is acting like it’s, at most, a moderately brisk spring afternoon. The only possible explanation for these consistently abnormally mild winters is that, in the world of The Office, the worsening effects of climate change are even more advanced than in our reality. 

Obviously, the show was filmed in L.A., but come on, they didn’t even bother to try and make it look cold. So really, the only logical takeaway here is that the world of Dunder Mifflin is quietly hurtling toward a severe ecological disaster at a rate that outpaces even our own — perhaps because of their universe’s overreliance on paper products?

You (yes, you) should follow JM on Twitter (if it still exists by the time you’re reading this).  

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