‘The Office’: How ‘Dinner Party’ Was Inspired by the British Version of the Show

by Jeremy Spirogis
The Office, Dinner Party

“Dinner Party” reserves a particular place within the hearts of The Office followers. There’s nothing fairly like watching Michael and Jan’s insanely poisonous relationship unravel in a fiery, explosive train-wreck in a single neatly packed 22-minute episode.

Fans might discover a slight tonal distinction in “Dinner Party” and, based on the episode’s writers, that’s intentional. The notorious episode was impressed by the British model of The Office.

The Office, Dinner Party
John Krasinski as Jim Halpert, Jenna Fischer as Pam Beesly, Rainn Wilson as Dwight Schrute | Chris Haston/NBCU Photo Bank

How ‘Dinner Party’ was impressed by the British model of ‘The Office’

The essential distinction between the British and American variations of The Office is the humor. The British model tends to skew darker. The writers of “Dinner Party,” Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg, wished the episode to be a bit darker, just like the present’s British counterpart.

“There’s a quote, ‘How do you make someone laugh? You show someone falling down. How do you get a comedy writer to laugh? Show a guy pushing a woman down the stairs.’ I’m paraphrasing, but there’s something to that,” Stupnitsky advised Rolling Stone in 2018. “The darker, normally, the funnier to us. We’re such enormous followers of the British Office and we wished to write down an episode extra in that tone.”

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Also just like the British model of the present, “Dinner Party” performs quite a bit with awkward pauses.

“An episode like this lives a lot in the awkward pauses,” stated Eisenberg. “A line would happen and the audience, along with the people at the dinner, would just kind of sit there and let it hang. And so the rhythms of this episode are slightly different.”

The community thought ‘Dinner Party’ was ‘really, really dark’

After every episode of The Office was written it’d get notes from the community earlier than it received the OK to be filmed. After the “Dinner Party” writers despatched over the episode, the community had one main word: “This script is really, really dark.”

“So the writers got called in to the office to hear the notes [from the network],” Eisenberg tells the publication. “[Executive producer] Greg [Daniels] gets on the phone and the executives are on the other line, on speakerphone. Only the writers have read the scripts so far and this is, you know, before the table read, and they get on the phone, and they go, ‘This script is really, really dark.’ And Greg said, ‘Yeah.’ And there’s a pause and they said, ‘It’s really dark.’ And Greg said, ‘Yeah. It is.’ And they go, ‘It’s really dark.’ And he goes, ‘Yup.’ And then he goes, ‘OK, anything else, guys?’ And they said, ‘Uh . . . nope.’ They hung up and that was it. They didn’t offer any other notes.”

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At that point, The Office was the primary comedy on NBC so, as Daniels places it, they “had earned some leeway.”

Besides, the chief producer doesn’t assume “Dinner Party” is just too darkish anyway. It has loads of redeeming moments.

“Jan and Michael were never supposed to work out, so I think there is an element of relief and hope that they break up,” he stated. “There are some nice moments, like Dwight taking Michael in at the end, or Jan trying to glue the Dundie [award] back together or Michael trying to take the blame with the police, so it wasn’t too dark, in my opinion.”

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