Fans of The Office hold fond memories of the evolving romance between Jim Halpert (John Krasinski) and Pam Beesly (Jenna Fischer). Considered one of the greatest love stories in television history, the Dunder Mifflin employees had quite a different journey compared to another iconic sitcom relationship on the NBC hit Friends.
‘The Office’ featured the Jim-and-Pam storyline more sparingly than Ross and Rachel on ‘Friends’
Brian Baumgartner, who played Kevin Malone on The Office, explored how Jim and Pam’s love story subtly unfolded over the comedy’s nine seasons in his new book. Their chemistry radiated off the screen in the first three seasons, but nothing officially materialized until season four.
“If you go back and look at those early episodes of The Office,” he said in Welcome to Dunder Mifflin, “the budding romance between Jim and Pam plays out quietly on the sidelines.”
When Friends dominated the airwaves in the mid-90s and early 2000s, the relationship of Ross (David Schwimmer) and Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) was often a main storyline. Whether it was Ross’s unrequited love for Rachel, their on-again/off-again seasons, or expecting a child together, the couple was frequently a centerpiece of the show. The Office creators took a different tack.
“When you shove a romance into the corner, it becomes this delicate, gossamer spiderweb of glances and tiny moments,” The Office writer/producer Mike Schur explained. “A character getting someone a candy bar from the vending machine becomes an enormous emotional moment. You’ve fundamentally changed the way audiences relate to romance.”
Jim and Pam’s relationship avoided the together/apart cycle
Baumgartner pointed out that unlike the Friends storyline, viewers would get only glimpses of Jim and Pam’s romance beginning to take shape.
“Their story wasn’t Ross and Rachel from Friends,” The Office alum noted. “Jim and Pam was a little moment here, a little moment there.”
Executive producer Greg Daniels purposely created their relationship to stand out from other famous TV love stories.
“I didn’t want to do a romance like in so many shows, where they come together and break apart,” he said. “It didn’t seem real. I felt when Jim and Pam finally get together, they’re going to be together. I don’t see anything breaking them up because they’re so in tune with each other.”
John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer ‘cared very deeply’ about their characters
Krasinski was totally on board with how The Office producers orchestrated Jim and Pam’s coupling, noting that their scenes often mirrored everyday circumstances.
“The stakes were set up so wonderfully, because that’s real life,” the 13 Hours star remarked. “When you’re in love with someone, especially someone at work, you look forward to those interactions at the office. When you go home and have a home life with your friends… you will not see that person. So you’re sort of, I don’t know, tantalized by the idea that when you get those moments with her, you’ll savor it.”
Both Fischer and Krasinski were heavily invested in their characters and how their romance came to fruition on the show. Fortunately, they were always on the same page.
“We cared very deeply,” Fischer revealed. “Everybody cared very, very much. “John and I would fight hard for what we believed. … We had a singular mind when it came to Jim and Pam.”
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