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How Jim from ‘The Office’ Almost Destroyed His Marriage

After a lot of dedication, I finally finished watching every single episode in all nine seasons of The Office (US). The Office (US) is a remake of the show that originated in the U.K. It's a documentary style TV show that focuses on the daily lives of the employees of “Dunder Mifflin,” is a paper company. They are led by their manager, Michael Scott, a man with a goofy persona who is devoted to the paper company and, more importantly, his employees. Although it may seem like a dull focus for a documentary, every day is far from average. I originally did not find The Office amusing, but after a few episodes, I found myself laughing and wanting to watch more, particularly to learn more about Jim Halpert, one of Dunder Mifflin's salesmen, and Pam Beesly, the Dunder Mifflin Scranton branch’s receptionist. 

Warning: There are SPOILERS ahead. 

They do in fact get together, which leads to their marriage, then the birth of their first child, Cece, followed by the birth of their second child, Philip. Their relationship truly seems like a fairy tale. However, in the ninth season of The Office, the writers decided to write in a tough patch in their marriage. Jim is presented the opportunity to work for a startup sports company in Philadelphia. Although I support Jim's successes, he handles this situation with such immaturity and blatant disregard for Pam and his children’s best interests. Pam gets too much hate for the countless sacrifices and effort she puts into helping Jim accomplish his dreams. She acts as a single mother for the majority of season nine, but worst of all, she endures lies from Jim, who originally told her he would not talk about the job in Philly. Jim endangers his marriage with Pam until it becomes clear that he needs to take a break from his job in Philly (and no, Pam didn’t make him do it!). Here’s how it went down: 

1. Jim agrees to taking on the job in Philly AFTER originally agreeing with Pam that he wasn’t going to.

In the beginning of season nine, Pam and Jim reveal that Jim’s college friend has taken one of his ideas for a company and brought it to life as a startup sports company called “Athlead Pam." Jim tells the cameramen that the two friends have talked about it and have decided that it’s better for everyone if Jim stays in Scranton, as they are right now. Pam mentions how everything will pretty much stay the same for a while. Later on in this episode, Darryl talks to Jim about not wanting to waste more time working for a company in which he sees no better future for himself, which gets Jim thinking about the offer. After all the employees leave for the day, Jim calls his friend and makes an impulsive decision to take the job.

He completely ignores the fact that he had a serious, decisive conversation with his wife about the company and what was better for the entire family. Jim neglects the interests of Pam and his children, because in that moment he was focused on finding a better option for himself. If he had told Pam he wanted to have a follow-up conversation to express his desire to go to Philly, I am more than sure Pam would have happily supported him. However, she finds out that Jim had taken the job before confronting her, which creates a sense of distrust between the two of them. They share lives and have the responsibility to update one another on any life-changing opportunities they want to pursue. Pam feeling hurt is completely justified, as Jim should've told her before agreeing to anything. Nevertheless, being the sweet person she is, Pam agrees and helps him move to Philly to start the job.

2. He fails to make enough time for Pam and his children.

Working for a start-up company brings many challenges for Jim, one being he is not able to make enough time for his family. In countless episodes you see Pam calling Jim to tell him about her day, her struggles, and her joys, but he dismisses these calls saying he is busy. Yes, he is a busy man, but a sweet reminder saying, “Pam, I love you, I want you to know you are important and I appreciate all you are doing for me” would not have been so hard. While Pam is at home taking care of a baby and a toddler, struggling with Cece getting lice, and juggling work at Dunder Mifflin, Jim is out in Philly taking care of himself, going on luxurious business meetings with sport icons, and literally living out his college dream.

In one particular episode, Cece has a dance recital coming up and Jim promises he will go and meet Pam and the rest of them there. Unfortunately, one of the main investors of Athlead gets cold feet and Jim is stuck in a meeting with him, causing him to miss Cece’s dance recital. He calls Pam while she is on her way there with Cece in the car and tells her he cannot make it. Cece hears her dad say this and tells Pam, “I want daddy.” Clearly his absence from the family is having an effect on the kids. Pam is annoyed at the fact that he didn’t call earlier, because a heads up would have been helpful. Jim tries to find a solution and asks Pam to record the recital, but unfortunately there are technical difficulties. Even if Pam had recorded the recital correctly, this was a very important event for Cece and her dad’s absence upset her. 

3. He takes out his anger and stress on Pam.

“Customer Loyalty” was the most awful episode of The Office in my opinion. I know not every aspect of their relationship is perfect, but Jim lashes out at Pam in a way that was out of character. At the end of Cece’s recital episode, Jim calls Pam and lets her know that their main investor dropped out and he’ll have to work longer hours. He asks about the recording to cheer himself up, and Pam is honest with Jim about the fact that she was unable to record the recital. Jim lashes out and begins a fight with Pam over her inability to record. He is condescending and rude. He completely ignores everything else Pam has done for their family while he’s been away and paints that one moment as a reflection of Pam’s efforts, which is far from accurate. He puts the blame of the missed moment on Pam and does not consider for a second the effect his absence has had on their family. Jim takes the rest of the call to insist that he is doing everything he can to help the family, neglecting the pain he has inflicted on Pam and their children. Even worse, Jim doesn’t give Pam the space to express her own feelings of hurt, as he hangs up before she has the opportunity to express her own sentiments. He hangs up, but not before bringing her to tears. If he had stayed on that call with Pam for just a few seconds more, he would have been able to see the emotional stress Pam had been experiencing and maybe he could have realized he wasn’t the only one feeling stressed and upset. 

This rough patch in their marriage was truly excruciating to watch. Thank goodness that they are able to work it out bit by bit until Jim took a leave of absence from his job at Atleap. I personally think they still have a lot to work on at the end of the season, because they are working through it. I do think Pam needed to communicate her feelings to Jim more often than she did, but Jim needed to make the space for her to do so, because that’s unfair to expect of her when he’s not willing to listen. I still think they are one of the best television couples to exist, as they were able to get through it together with love. 

Izabella Lizarazo

Columbia Barnard '24

Izabella is a freshman at Barnard College, often found listening and/or singing along to show tunes or Latin jazz. She's a fan of journaling, organizing, and writing. She is almost always available to go out and talk over a bubble tea or ice cream with friends. Although she is undecided on what her college major will be, Izabella is interested in history, politics, literature, and Spanish and Latin American cultures.
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