It’s an old scenario that television viewers have watched recur for years: boy meets girl, falls in love, hides his love or faces rejection, as the tension builds fans yearn for their union, until finally it happens and the episodes that follow are awash (either concluding the whole series, or just simply ruining it)! We saw it with Ross and Rachel, with Stephan Urkel and Laura Winslow, and with David and Donna (Beverly Hills 90210). Perhaps this is why I am so desperate not to see Jim and Pam wed. I like the show The Office too much! The thought had occurred to me recently, however, that as a Biblical Christian I ought to desire to see a Biblical marriage represented on television. Certainly I find marriage to be a wonderful thing, and wouldn’t it be great to see Jim and Pam live out the vision of marriage that I have on National Television? I wonder what that would look like.

Marriage as described in Ephesians 5 is certainly a beautiful picture. The respectful wife, the sacrificial husband, and the picture of the gospel displayed to the world. Yet the reality of the marital relationship between a husband and wife in this sin-filled world is messy, sometimes boring, and often requires excessive amounts of hard-work. I can’t help but wonder if this makes for good television.

Marriage on television is often depicted, yes with silliness, but that silliness is often an overly dramatic representation of the average marriage these days (marriages filled with selfish men striving to love their wives, nagging wives striving to please their husbands, and sinful couples wishing they had a better marriage). Think of couples like Tim and Jill Taylor, Doug and Carrie Hefernon, Homer and Marge Simpson, Jim and Cheryl (According to Jim). As I think about these shows I must confess they don’t often represent boredom, even if some of them do represent cheesy writing and poor plot development. So why is it that inevitably Jim and Pam’s marriage will be the end of The Office?

I suppose it has something to do with the culture we live in: marriage just isn’t as popular, or interesting to the larger public who sees co-habitation and promiscuity as the essence of fun and freedom. But perhaps a more reasonable answer has to do with the thrill of the chase. We love watching a man pursue a woman, a woman turn him down, and then the switch, a woman pursuing a man who has moved on, etc. There’s something exciting about the tension and the twists. And while I certainly think marriage is as equally, if not more exciting, I don’t imagine that I would find the marriages of everyone else as exciting as mine! Nor, do I imagine, you will find my marriage very exciting to you.

So while marriage itself, as God ordained it, is very exciting, perhaps the marriage of Jim and Pam just won’t make for good television. It’s just not as exciting as watching their relationship go through massive ups and downs. Until that wedding day happens though, I’ll be glued to NBC every Thursday night watching the excitement of the chase! But if Jim and Pam do marry, I guess that will free up thirty minutes more for me to enjoy the excitement of my own marriage, and that won’t be so bad.


  1. I had these same fears at the end of Season 3, when Jim and Pam finally got it together and started dating. Fortunately, the writers didn’t go in the direction of trying to keep the tension going through, well, tension in Jim’s and Pam’s relationship. Instead, they’ve placed the conflict between Jim (as assistant regional manager) and his other co-workers. PB & J seem pretty happy, and it’s a relief to see a pleasant relationship on TV.

  2. Interestingly (well, i guess that depends on what interests one), one of the big horrifying PR blunders on the part of Marvel Comics this last year was to retcon the marriage of Peter Parker (Spider-Man) to Mary Jane for precisely this reason.

    The current EIC at Marvel, Joe Queseda, felt that readers couldn’t relate to a thirty-something, married Spider-Man. Gone were the days of Pete trying to juggle a girlfriend without her finding out about his big secret. Gone were all the opportunities for him to meet cute. Gone was the tension of young love. To Queseda’s mind, stripping those story possibilities from Spider-Man comics took some key element from the character and his stories.

    So Queseda figured out a way* to take away the marriage that wouldn’t leave Pete widowed or divorced (two states that would make him seem even older). Granted, many readers only took issue with the means Queseda reached his chosen end, but still, a sizable percentage of the readership was pretty stunned with Queseda’s reasoning.

    The fact is, it’s poor writers can’t write good stories involving married people. A good writer can take the myriad story opportunities of married life and craft works of power, beauty, and entertainment. It’s not marriage that we need to fear, but bad writers.

    This has ever been the case.

    If Jim and Pam get married and the series continues, it will continue to do well if the writers are good. If it doesn’t, the writers were never better than average. So it goes.

    In any case, The Office has never really struck me as being primarily a show about romantic tension. It’s been there and it’s been cute, but it’s never been the driving force.

    *note: I never said he figured out a good way. In the end, he had Pete and MJ make a deal with Mephisto (the Satan of the Marvel Universe) in order to save Aunt May’s life. That deal, of course, had Peter and Mary Jane each wake up into new lives, lives in which they had never been married.

    The Danes last blog post..20080528

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