From the opening montage to the classic hanging spots, ‘The Office’ and Scranton have become one of the finest pairings ever seen on television.
Countless shows such as ‘Sex and the City’, ‘Mad Men’, ‘Seinfeld’ etc., have paid homage to the exciting and glamorous New York. But rarely, television has attempted to capture the pulse of a real-life small town. This is where the ‘The Office‘ stands out. The show has acquired a new set of fans who discovered and loved it. Despite the widespread success of the mockumentary sitcom, many don’t know whether ‘The Office’ was actually filmed in Scranton and the reason behind the showmakers choosing Scranton as the setting.
- Scranton, the heartbeat of ‘The Office’
- The endearing bond between Scranton and ‘The Office’
SCRANTON AS THE PULSE
The opening footage of ‘The Office’ featuring various spots in Scranton is one of the few instances where the show travelled to the city in reality. In fact, the classic montage was shot by actor John Krasinski who played Jim Halpert.
The real location of the workspace in which the show was filmed was not situated in the city of Northeastern Pennsylvania. During the first season, the show was shot in a real office in Culver City, California. However, that office was recreated in a soundstage in Los Angeles for filming that occurred the second season onwards.
This raises the question, if the filming did not happen on location, why did the makers choose Scranton for ‘The Office’? It’s essential to remember that Dunder Mifflin Paper Company is headquartered in New York City. Given this, the producers chose the setting of Scranton as the city is only a two-hour drive from New York. This made it the perfect match for a regional branch.
However, while the decision to pick Scranton was geographically shrewd, the essence of the city added life to the show, even though ‘The Office’ was not actually filmed in Scranton.
‘The Office’ is perceived as a commentary on American corporate culture through the lens of a paper company. It explores friendships, ambitions, follies and careers of ordinary people from ordinary towns, something that is not far off from the reality of Scranton. This was also reiterated by John Krasinski who has expressed,
“It’s kind of the backbone of what we’re doing. The whole thing of playing ordinary people comes from the idea that we’re all living in Scranton”.
A BOND FOR THE AGES
Besides providing thematic backing to the show, Scranton offered a range of real locations which featured in the comedy. Spots such as Poor Richard’s Pub, Steamtown Mall, Lake Wallenpaupack and Cooper’s Seafood House have attracted plenty of tourist revenue for Scranton.
These locations are often toured by fans who are excited to visit the places that were featured in the ‘The Office’. The locals are also known to have arranged monthly tours to these popular spots till the show’s ending.
The makers of ‘The Office’ took great efforts to stay true to the city in the show. As a matter of fact, the theme in the opening montage of the show was composed by a band named Scrantones.
Needless to say, while ‘The Office’ took heavy inspiration from Scranton, it equally gave back many things to the city. Through the sitcom, Scranton discovered popularity, tourism gains, and most importantly, a new narrative around itself.
Rather than being caricatured as a backward, dull town, Scranton was assigned character. It was depicted as a people’s town, where life happens imperfectly and on a small scale but it is nonetheless heartfelt and meaningful.
This is one of the biggest achievements of the show as rarely any shows have been able to forge such an endearing connection with real-life small towns. It was also evident in May 2013 when the show’s cast gathered at the courthouse in Scranton as the show reached its final leg.
A massive gathering of ten thousand people had welcomed the stars, making the final goodbye more emotional. While the show has ended, the legacy of ‘The Office’ lives through its fans and Scranton’s big-hearted people.