NBC's The Office was the No. 102 show (of 156 shows) of its first season, the 2004-05 season. Yet a decade and a half later, The Office has become more popular than ever among people of all ages. Emily VanDerWerff set off to find out "how a nation engulfed by economic precarity turned a TV show about workplace drudgery into an aspirational fantasy." Somehow, says VanDerWerff, "The Office has only grown in stature since it left the air in 2013, bolstered by Netflix, where the extremely limited data there is suggests that it’s a massive smash. Twitter imploded when NBCUniversal announced it would be pulling The Office from the service in 2021. (It is, as of July 15, also available on the NBCUniversal streaming service Peacock, which will become the show’s exclusive home once it leaves Netflix.) There are Office crafts on Etsy. There’s Office merch on Amazon and in Hot Topic. Pop star Billie Eilish — a teenager! — samples the show in a song on her Grammy-winning 2019 album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? In the midst of the global quarantine due to Covid-19, the show’s stars reunited not once but twice for goofy YouTube talk shows hosted by John Krasinski, who played Jim. The show also lives on as part of the internet’s lingua franca, as anybody who’s ever had to say 'NOOOOOOOOO' in GIF form can tell you. But why? Most shows that become this big in reruns have at least a hint of escapism to them — think Friends (with its candy-colored New York City full of attractive, presumably rich, white people) or The Simpsons (set in an animated world). The Office is a little gray and drab, a little like being devoured whole by a week of Mondays. It takes place in a world where you wear a tie to work, drive every day to a dull office park, where the closest thing to excitement is playing a prank on a coworker. The series features a kind of social realism largely missing from more current notions about the importance of 'meaningful' work."