‘Office’ Fans Are Ready to Admit That Pam Sucked at Art
Pam deserved to fail art school. Boom, roasted.
Besides her not-so-secret affection for Jim Halpert, Pam Beesly in the early seasons of The Office defined herself by one motivation — art. Her “doodles,” as Jan Levinson would call them, represented her aspirations for more than the menial existence of a secretary engaged to a warehouse worker in the fifth most populous city in Pennsylvania. Pam’s art served as an important wedge issue in her little office love triangle — Roy shot down her dreams of pursuing art professionally while Jim encouraged her aspirations, and, after she dumped her disappointing fiance, she finally began to take her artistic ambitions seriously and enrolled in local classes. And over the course of the lauded NBC sitcom’s nine seasons, one point became painfully apparent: Roy was right.
The last time Pam’s art ever instigated unnecessary drama in The Office was in the final season when her mural is mysteriously defaced, starting a chain reaction that ends in violence, firings and the show’s single most unpalatable side plot wherein Pam and boom operator Brian tease a terrible romantic connection. Over in the Office subreddit, a post recently skyrocketed to the front page with the simple title, “Pam’s Mural Sucked.” I’ll go one step further — Pam’s art always sucked.
“I like how it’s in the warehouse but only shows the upstairs people and ignores the warehouse workers,” one commenter wrote, to which another replied, “If I worked in the warehouse I’d draw butts on the mural.” One more still added, “All of Pam’s art was trash.”
The first inkling the show gave its fans that Pam’s artistic ambitions were woefully misguided was when, in the third season episode “Business School,” Pam invites the entire office to attend an art show put on by her and her classmates. Of all the characters invited, only Roy, Oscar and Michael make appearances, prompting one of the more wholesome exchanges between Pam and the lattermost in the show’s entire run. On the other hand, Oscar and his partner Gil give their brutally honest opinions on Pam’s output, with Gil giving it the iconic and accurate moniker, “Motel art.”
Seriously, a watercolor of a stapler? A brown mug on a brown table? An unironic fruit bowl still life?! This is barely B- work in a middle school art class, let alone a creative endeavor worth asking your adult coworkers to waste their free time just to indulge you. And, by the final season, when Pam’s second attempt at a bland, sophomoric fresco becomes the focal point of another episode in “Vandalism,” Pam’s skills seem to have gotten even worse. Composition, form, line, color — these are all the elements that Pam ignores while she splatters her own image in the center of a 30-foot-long rejected community college brochure of a mural.
There is, unfortunately, an important narrative reason why Pam’s art must be so pedestrian — she needs to stay in the office. As hard as the writers tried to weave Pam’s artistic ambitions into the practical limitations of her profession, Pam succeeding in the art world would require her to leave the world of the show, and with Jim Halpert still the de facto protagonist of the series, they couldn’t have the leading man’s leading lady run off to New York for good.
Also, there’s shadows coming from two different directions. C’mon, Beesly.