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Odds and Ends: Scott’s Tots defines ‘The Office’

If you have a Netflix account, you have probably watched The Office. It’s arguably one of the more popular shows ever, at least since its debut in 2005. Yet there is one episode that fans are torn on: Scott’s Tots. 

Michael Scott, played by Steve Carell, is the eccentric regional manager of the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company Scranton branch. Scott is caring, a bit overzealous and painfully awkward; he’s lovable in his own right, though. Moments of his father-like characteristics shine, most notably when he was the only one who went to the office secretary’s art show. 

Scott, however, is a man who may care a bit too much. It’s a “too much of a good thing” sort of deal. Ten years prior, Scott made a promise to a group of underprivileged school children that he would pay for their college tuition in its entirety. (Spoiler: Being regional manager of a paper company does not bring in enough money to pay for four years of college for around a dozen-ish kids.) The kids invite Scott to thank him without knowing that he isn’t able to live up to his promise. Scott shows up. It gets awkward, which the show thrives off of. But it may have been a bit too awkward. 

Here’s an abbreviated version of the episode: 

People familiar with The Office know that the awkward moments are key to the humor of the show. So why not make an entire episode that is just uncomfortable? That seems to be the idea of “Scott’s Tots.” But people hate this episode enough to skip over it no matter what. But what people may not want to admit is that this infamous (not the best word, roll with it) episode is defining of the whole series. 

Scott’s promise exemplifies his character as a whole: It’s audacious, it’s brash and it seems lofty. He claimed he expected to be a successful business person at this point in life, but alas, he wasn’t. The shame you see when the kids begin to thank him feels real. It’s painful to watch. 

That’s the point of The Office. The show itself wasn’t meant to be about anything glamorous, it was about a mundane office in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Nine-to-five monotony and superficial office relationships are understood by anyone who, you know, lives that life. We all have high hopes early on in life, so Scott thinking he could afford college tuition for a dozen kids isn’t out of the realm of possibility. It’s how he knew for at least seven years he couldn’t afford it, but knew he was in too deep.

“Scott’s Tots” is hard to watch, and it should be. It’s a semi-realistic situation people can see and feel second-hand shame for. 

Chuck Greenlee is a senior studying communication studies at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Do you watch The Office?’ Let Chuck know by tweeting him @chuck_greenlee.

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