Director Paul Feig spilled behind-the-scenes info about the iconic The Office “Dinner Party” episode
Though there are many crowd-favorite episodes of The Office, the Season 4 episode “Dinner Party” may deserve its very own “World’s Best Boss” mug. (Steve Carell even said the episode has his favorite show moment ever.) However, according to the episode’s director, Paul Feig, it took The Office fans a while to warm up to just how loveably cringey “Dinner Party” is.
“When this episode first aired, it was universally hated,” Feig told PeopleTV’s Lola Ogunnaike during a recent episode of the Couch Surfing web series. “Just this vitriol came up,” Feig said, upon the episode’s initial airing. “We made people so cringey-feeling that they just couldn’t take it.”
In the “Dinner Party” episode, Michael Scott (played by Carell) and his then-girlfriend Jan (Melora Hardin) invite Jim (John Krasinski), Pam (Jenna Fischer), Andy (Ed Helms), and Angela (Angela Kinsey) to their condo for, well, a dinner party. What ensues is possibly the most awkward half-hour of television the world has seen. From the palpable tension between Michael and Jan, to the nightmarishly-long wait time for dinner to be served, to Dwight (Rainn Wilson) and his former babysitter crashing the ordeal—it’s a lot of cringe on a single dinner plate.
However, it also has some of the most memorable, hilarious one-liners and bits in Office history, such as Michael’s plasma TV that…folds into the wall.
“What’s happened now is, once you’ve seen it once and you know what’s coming, then you can really enjoy it,” Feig continued, saying that a similar sensation happened among the Freaks and Geeks fanbase, which, he said, “made [people] too uncomfortable watching it at the time.”
The episode’s writing team was ultimately nominated for an Emmy, and Feig won the Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series for his work on “Dinner Party.”
So, cringe comedy prevails. If it wasn’t for all that awkwardness, “Dinner Party” wouldn’t be the masterpiece it is.