Scranton and "The Office"

A friend from high school, now working in Marketing and Communications, posted a note on Facebook today about a writer doing an article about Scranton and “The Office.” The writer is looking for input on the topic. Here is what he says:

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The article is on “The Office” and how the show has changed people’s perceptions of the city of Scranton. I am looking for a media expert to explain the impact pop culture can have on a small town like this. And I am also looking for anyone who has seen the show and has a strong opinion about the city. Please e-mail me if you can help (johngilpatrick@gmail.com). Thanks!

And here is what I say.

When “The Office” first aired in March of 2005, I was a transplant from the Scranton, PA area to San Diego, CA. I was rooming with some friends of mine from the same area, and we all, at the time, had an awful disdain for any association between Scranton, PA and ourselves. But instantly, when we found out that “The Office” was set in Scranton, we all had a very real sense of pride in our little town. Friends began to ask us if certain places actually existed and if the filming location was anything like Scranton. Suddenly we were experts on all things “Office” because we hailed from the same town that it was filmed in.

The first season was much more true to the grit and the atmosphere of what Scranton is really like. It’s rather dirty, and even the “upper management” people are a far cry from anyone you’d meet in New York City with the same job title. The first season was set in a more cluttered and unkempt office than you find in later seasons, which, from personal experience, is a more accurate picture of a Scranton office. Everything is old. Even the new buildings look old. Scranton was given the reputation of being the “armpit of civilization” a number of years ago by a newspaper columnist and it’s become almost a motto for the city. People here don’t really get up in arms about it…they just shrug their shoulders in half-hearted agreement and continue on with the day-to-day.

In essence, Scranton is just that. Day-to-day, mundane, and rather trivial. Until “The Office” put us on the map, I believe the last time Scranton was noted on screen was in “Home Alone 1” when Kevin’s mom is stuck in the Scranton Airport and asks “Where the hell am I?” In truth, I think that’s what all Scrantonians are really asking.