The Good Old Days: A College Series Finale

Originally published on

You can’t keep reading and say I didn’t warn you that this article contains spoilers of the series finale of “The Office.” 

I never wanted to like “The Office.”

I was late — very late — to the bandwagon when I watched the first episode in the summer of 2013. The show had already ended that May.

My boyfriend, Luke, got me hooked on it. After telling me the plot of the first two seasons, in uncharacteristic excruciating detail on a road trip to go white-water rafting in Pennsylvania, we started the first episode on Netflix that night.

Though I enjoyed the first season, I wasn’t sure about the series for a long time. I developed a love/hate relationship with Michael, the office manager, which still endures to this day. The middle seasons were filled with stretches of episodes I didn’t like at all. And Angela, one of the Dunder Mifflin accountants, annoyed me to no end.

If I’m being honest, I kept watching the first time around because of Jim and Pam. I watched for the little moments — the air high-fives, the rooftop picnic, the Halloween costumes, that gas station proposal. Luke and I both developed minor-league crushes on Jim and Pam, in the harmless way we all fall in love with TV characters that remind us of real people.   

It took me a long time to finish the series — almost a year and a half — because I kept taking breaks and then coming back.

But I remember the day I finally made it to the series finale. Luke and I watched it over dinner one night during the fall semester of my junior year. For whatever reason, the finale snuck up on me — I thought there were more episodes or another season, and I wasn’t expecting it when the title flashed on the screen and it said, “Finale.”

As far as series finales go, “The Office’s” is perfect. It doesn’t stray from what made it great for the other 187 episodes, and it skillfully completes the arcs for every one of the major characters. It’s funny and bittersweet in all the right ways.

Luke and I started watching “The Office” again this year, for the third time. It’s just about the only TV show we can agree on.   

We would turn it on while doing homework, or late at night before we went to sleep. For a while, one of his roommates, Dave, who lived in the upstairs bedroom, watched it too — but we were never in sync with him, so every 15 minutes or so, the theme song would play throughout the house.

A few days ago, with graduation in sight, we made it to the ending again. The real-life irony is almost too much.

We’re about to graduate and the Dunder Mifflin Paper Co. employees are about to go their separate ways. The PBS documentary finally aired and we finally attended our last college classes. Jim and Pam are about to leave Scranton and we’re about to leave Oxford.

One of the many things I love about the series finale is that it both subtly and blatantly reminds you that the show was never about the paper company.

During the final stretch of the episode, the Dunder Mifflin employees each take time for their last sit-down interview. Creed, oddly enough, pulls out a guitar and sings a song that plays while each person sits down to tape their final thoughts.

“I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them,” Andy says.

“How did you capture what it was really like?” wonders Erin. “How we felt and how we made each other laugh and how we got through the day.”

“Every day when I came into work, all I wanted to do was leave. So why in the world does it feel so hard to leave right now?”  Darrell says.

“Even if I didn’t love every minute of it, everything I have, I owe to this job. This stupid, wonderful, boring, amazing job,” Jim says.

It’s funny. I know these are the lines that are coming, but I’m not ready to hear them yet.

Because I know that these days, these years at Miami, will be the good old days I talk about for a long time after graduation.   

Because sometimes I forget what it was really like — Tuesday night dinners at Harris, the articles and videos and projects, the walks across campus, the laughter — and I wish I had a documentary that had been capturing it all for me to look back on now.

Because for so long all I thought about was what was next, what was after graduation. And now that I’m here, it feels so hard to imagine driving out of Oxford.

Because even if I didn’t love every minute of it, I owe everything I have to these four years.

I’m sure this isn’t the last time we’ll reach the finale. But I’m not sure it’ll ever line up so perfectly with our lives again.

“There is a lot of beauty in ordinary things,” Pam says as “The Office” ends. “Isn’t that kind of the point?”

Luke and I have two episodes left and I’m putting them off for just a little while longer. We both know what’s coming, after all.