The very smart Alan Sepinwall has made a strong case that The Office’s loss of Steve Carell has left a void that looks un-fillable by Ed Helms’ Andy or James Spaders’ Robert California, and continues to pulse with a ferocious power that hungrily sucks everything around it into its terrifying dark vacuum. Fine, it’s not quite that bad. Basically the central problem is that Andy Bernard is just like Michael Scott, but less so:
In some ways, he feels like what everyone feared the American version of The Office was going to be: a main character who’s sort of inappropriate, but not really; who seems to annoy people, but you know they really like him, gosh darn it; who seems inept but ultimately manages to rally the troops; etc. If Michael Scott was a slightly kinder David Brent, Andy Bernard is Brent completely defanged.
Yeah! The best moments from early seasons of the show were the ones where you felt so embarrassed for Michael (and, secretly, for the tiny Michael Scott inside yourself) that it would make you physically uncomfortable. Remember that feeling? Sepinwall’s judgments on the rest of the show ring pretty true as well - how Robert California is too detached from the central cast to have much impact and how many of the supporting characters have been dumbed-down or creeped-up beyond the reality of the show’s earlier seasons. The show’s certainly still good enough that it’s fun to watch - but I find it easy to forget how great it used to be, and it’s definitely no longer hitting those heights. What do you think?