The Office UK vs US: Which is Better? (2022 Updated)

The Office UK vs US: Which is Better? (2022 Updated)

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The world of pop culture was transformed after the remake of "The Office" 2001 UK version became a huge hit. The 2005 US version ranked among the most remarkable comedy shows of all time.

If you're left wondering which "dry humor" version of The Office is better, we listed down the notable differences between The Office UK vs US!

10 Main Differences Between The Office UK & US 

1. Characters 

Characters

What tops the list of differences that sets the 2 versions of The Office apart is the characters. 

Although the original version has almost the same amount of characters as the US version, the character development of the supporting cast is more engaging in the US than the UK version [1]. Besides the main character, a good series with evolving characters' storyline makes the version even more compelling.

Thus, the US version became a must-watch for American audiences. A perfect example of good character development from a supporting cast can be seen from both Dawn and Pam as they both portrayed the character of a modest receptionist. 

However, while Dawn remained completely passive in the entire series, Pam slowly developed her personality, becoming more socially adept and assertive in chasing after her ambitions.

"Good character is not formed in a week or a month. It is created little by little, day by day. Protracted and patient effort is needed to develop good character." - Heraclitus, Greek Philosopher.

2. Companies 

Both versions of The Office took place in the branches of large paper companies, setting up the realities of office life [2]. Filmed at the fictional paper company Wernham Hogg, the original version illustrates the stationery and dull life of the UK office at Slough, Berkshire. 

On the other hand, the US version was filmed at Scranton's "Electric City" at the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company in Pennsylvania, a real-life US office that made the first episode even better. Afterward, the set was filmed at Van Nuys, California.

Furthermore, the UK version was known for its documentary style with a bland and fluorescent lighting environment which the US version adapted. However, after the first season, the American office setting livens up to suit the taste of American audiences, which is contrary to the neutral mood of the UK's version. 

In this aspect, The Office US is way more entertaining in terms of the company setting.

Also Read: How Many Seasons Does The Office US Have?

3. Bosses (Brent vs Scott) 

Bosses (Brent vs Scott)

The most important reason The Office became a success in the entertainment industry is that the respective bosses played the craziest among all the other characters. Although most comedy shows have a funny supporting cast (such as Dwight Schrute), the main character of both versions of The Office will surely make you cringe and laugh at the same time.

How do David Brent and Michael Scott differ in character? Well, to match the British humor, David Brent played as a silly, dysfunctional, and unfriendly yet attention-seeker boss with more cringe-worthy jokes. On the other hand, Dunder Mifflin's Michael Scott (the branch's manager) had a bossy personality with a few redeeming qualities.

The character writing for Michael Scott transitioned during season two to show his redeeming qualities and make him more likable to the fans as they toned down his cringey jokes. A perfect example of how the audience started to love Michael Scott is when he gave good advice to Jim regarding his feelings for  Pam.

4. Tone

Another huge difference between The Office US and the British series is the tone used to attract the audience's attention. This is where personal taste plays a role, indicating if the versions of the story will be a hit. 

Ricky Gervais has integrated British humor in the UK version to give a real-life enactment of The Office life. Playing the role of David Brent, Ricky Gervais made sure that the characters and story depicted a pessimistic tone while maintaining the status quo in the society, which the Brits watched fondly. 

While the British version's tone was a bit off-putting for some, the US version of The Office is completely fun and portrays an inspiring world that attracted a lot of foreign viewers. In the nine seasons of The Office US and despite the satirical commentary, the characters openly portrayed their personalities, motivated the cast in achieving their dreams, and publicly praised and rewarded success. 

Thus, the optimistic tone of the American version attracted more viewers.

Also Read: Most Popular The Office Gifts 

5. Stories

Stories

Comedy shows won't run smoothly without brilliant writers and directors. This is true as Ricky Gervais played David Brent in the UK version and co-directed and co-wrote both versions together with Stephen Merchant. 

Even though various conflicts were occurring, they were resolved immediately, which made the UK's version less engaging, and some viewers were left pondering at the end of the series. 

On the contrary, The Office US became a big hit with nine seasons as the series had more substories. For instance, Dawn and Tim were very candid and had fewer interactions to show their affection. 

Meanwhile, the story of Jim and Pam started with their fun job as friends and became even more romantic in each episode. Later on, Pam and Jim married and had a family, making The Office US more entertaining between the two series. 

6. Romance

Regarding romance, The Office UK vs US has significant differences since the British version went through with only two seasons, while the American version had nine seasons in total. Considering the limited time for the story to progress, Dawn and Tim had a shorter love story. 

In addition, many sidetracks are preventing Dawn and Tim from being together, such as Dawn being engaged to Lee, Tim dating Rachel, and Dawn moving to Florida with Lee, which left Tim devastated. The two only became a couple officially after Dawn returned to the town where he met Tim to attend a Christmas party.

On the other hand, the American version of The Office has Jim and Pam as the center of love interest. They started as friends in the first season and kicked off their relationship in season four. Later on, Jim proposed to Pam, got married, and started their own family.

Moreover, Dwight Schrute and Angela Martin also got married, and Michael and Holly got together.

7. Humor 

Humor

American and British humor indicates cultural differences and the personal taste of the audience, which added variation to each story. So, if your type of entertainment falls under the practical comedy side, The Office UK version is the one you should go for. 

The British version of The Office is known for portraying the reality of office life, which is an awkward and straightforward mockery of the characters' incompetence and brings vicarious embarrassment to the audience. As the co-creator and co-writer of The Office UK and US, Ricky Gervais played his part well as David Brent - the boss of the UK version.

On the other hand, while the characters on the British version remained stagnant (as the Brits love to watch more realistic shows), the American humor features ignorant and eccentric characters to counterbalance the cringey and menial office life. 

Steve Carell playing as our favorite "World's Best Boss" (Michael Scott) surely captured many viewers, and their version became a daily show that the Americans watched eagerly. 

Also Read: Most Popular Quotes From The Office

8. Ending

For the most part, TV shows are remembered by viewers not only by the episodes they showed but for how well they made a farewell ending. Since the two series are set in the same world of an exhausting job in office life, both endings reunite all the characters in a remarkable event. 

Succeeding twelve episodes with only two seasons, the UK version had a reunion three years after during the Christmas party at Wernham Hogg. Although most endings for comedy shows are relatively happy, The Office UK ending is more subdued, portraying each character's failures, especially David's static bossy figure.

Meanwhile, the reunion of characters in The Office US took place a year after at Dwight and Angela's wedding, where Jim played the best man. Most of the characters' life portrayed a happy ending, from Michael finding his romantic partner to Andy achieving his dreams. 

To sum it up, the ending of The Office US gave the viewers a good closure on the characters' lives.

9. Budget 

It is no surprise that "The Office" US version had a larger budget than the original British series, which is evident as they were able to cast guest stars such as Amy Adams, who played Katy (Jim's ex-cheerleader girlfriend). 

Apart from her, other celebrities made guest appearances such as Tim Meadows, Idris Elba, stand-up comedian Ken Jeong, American TV host Conan O'Brien, Jack Black, Jessica Alba, and Ricky Gervais playing his iconic role as David Brent. Gervais made an appearance on the American version in season seven. He made friends with Michael Scott outside an elevator and applied to Dunder Mifflin as manager. 

The original British series never cast any prominent stars due to the limited budget and attempt to maintain the realism of the monotonous office life. In short, between the two versions of The Office, America's bigger budget led to the great success of the show's remake. 

In contrast, the former maintained its documentary-based story, which may be too dreary for some viewers.

10. Series Length

Series Length

Considering all the differences and contributing factors stated above, the two versions of The Office have substantial variation in the series' length. First off, in the British series, they created only two seasons and a two-part Christmas special (as they have shorter substories for the characters, and Gervais wanted to ensure that the scenes were resolute and straightforward). 

In total, the British series only has 12 episodes plus the two-part Christmas special. Although the series' length was very short and aired from 2001 to 2003, The Office UK was very popular.

On the other hand, The Office US ran for nine seasons, with 201 episodes in total. As there are multiple storylines for each The Office episode, the series' length was longer, airing from 2005 to 2013. 

In addition, the American humor gave an optimistic vibe to the show, which is in contrast with the Brits' humor. Thus, it led to the viewers' craving for more, which made it one of the most-watched comedy shows in the entertainment world. 

FAQs

Is The Office US better than the UK? 

Based on the factors mentioned above, The Office US is better between the two versions. Since the American remake has Michael (who is better than David) and has less realistic yet funnier scenes, The Office US is definitely a better sitcom. 

Why did Steve Carrell leave The Office US? 

According to an inside story from Hairstylist Kim Ferry, Steve Carell never wanted to leave the show, but his contract was about to end, and NBC's executive never talked to him about renewing it. 

Also, on Baumgartner's podcast, it was revealed that the changes of shareholders and executives at NBC didn't realize how important it is to keep Carell [3].

Why are there only two seasons of The Office UK? 

The filming of The Office UK required undivided attention from the chief creator, writer, and director Ricky Gervais, but he did not have a team of producers or even a freelance writer to help him out [4]. In the end, the brief run of the sitcom remained solely on his personal decision.

Wrapping Up!

To sum it all up, the battle between The Office UK vs US can only be determined based on the viewer's personal preferences. However, based on the factors weighed in on above, there is no doubt that The Office US is far better than the original in terms of entertainment. 

Since the American remake has a better storyline and even the characters' personal lives were looked closely into, the series became even more entertaining and appealing for all kinds of viewers worldwide. The positive tone of American humor also got people hooked, providing more laughter through practical jokes.

Looking for The Office collectibles? Check out Toynk store!

References:

  1. https://screenrant.com/office-uk-vs-us-differences/
  2. https://screenrant.com/office-us-vs-uk-versions-differences-explained/
  3. https://www.denofgeek.com/tv/the-office-the-frustrating-moving-story-behind-steve-carell-leaving/
  4. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/ricky-gervais-the-office_n_1421772

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