April 22nd, 2010
If there were a single quality that defines The Office at its most enjoyable, it is “earnest.” When the show starts heading into the territory of cruel, it is able to survive so long as it remains earnest about it. The show can feature embarrassing and often cringe-worthy moments, and it can have characters do things which are ultimately south of decent, but so long as there is a sense of earnestness in their actions, or their intentions, or even their realizations regarding their behaviour, I’m generally okay with it. When the show goes for earnest without bothering with cruel, it is at its emotional best; when it uses earnest to temper the cruelty, it’s pretty solid.
“Secretary’s Day” ultimately falls into the latter category, but in a season which has been on the inconsistent side I’d say that’s nonetheless a good step for the show. There’s some solid negotiation of the new corporate engagement and some fun office dynamics mixed in with an earnest (and dramatically complex) Erin/Andy story, which is the sort of dynamism that has been missing from the show as of late.