It’s not that I don’t like Jim Halpert.
I don’t have strong feelings about the character, mainly because he, much like his soulmate Pam, is dull as dishwater. He’s a bland character who, if he was a pro wrestler, would the the generic, good looking babyface midcarder who gets beaten up by the Four Horsemen for kicks every week. You’re not supposed to have strong feelings about that guy.
It’s more that I don’t respect him.
Jim is a man who takes virtually no risks. He sits, and pines, and makes quips behind other people’s backs (never to their face), and mugs the camera, all of which elicit an appropriate enough reaction of “Aww.” He’s adorable.
But make no mistake: he doesn’t deserve to get the girl.
The men on “The Office” are a peculiar bunch. They’re each kind of arrested at a different stage of development. Michael is a ten year old seeking desperately to attach and feel worthy. Dwight is a preadolescent obsessed with symbols of virility and dominance. Kevin is the five year old who lives on M&M’s and makes fart jokes. And Jim is the awkward, gangly adolescent who can’t figure out why the girls prefer the football players to the, say, future paper salesmen.
We see Jim do everything in his power to develop a relationship with Pam– except tell her, directly, how he feels. And then, when she somehow doesn’t read his mind and break up her years-long relationship with her high school sweetheart, we’re expected to get all teary-eyed when he finally does say something…on a night when Pam has been drinking, after her fiancé has left the scene, and after he’s made a decision to transfer branches instead of dealing with the fact that she planned to marry another man.
I suppose I get, in the abstract, why the Maestro finds Jim and Pam endearing. Their romance is a cute, familiar story arc that, while played out by vacuous characters, is of the archetypal type that our brains enjoy. But honestly, in the end, I find myself actively rooting against Jim. His journey, even in the later seasons, asks for virtually no growth from him. His conflicts nearly always revolve around how the things he wants don’t come effortlessly to him. After all, he’s such a Nice Guy– doesn’t his Niceness deserve to snag him The Girl?
If it’s worth having, it’s worth fighting for. And Jim is very much not a fighter.
Santullo’s was good. I got a slice of triple cheese pizza, cheekily branded “The Threesome,” the size of a goddamn life raft.
You should have seen the Maestro’s face when I showed up at his place with a Pizza Hut pizza. Incredulity, tempered by wariness. He is suspicious of chain pizza. I am more charitable in extending the benefit of the doubt. I refuse to believe in fundamentally bad pizza.
(My optimism is duly rewarded, more often than not.)
I also refuse to pretend that the Jim/Pam coupling is anywhere near as interesting as the sadomasochistic waltz Dwight and Angela are doing. The interpersonal dynamics there would make ol’ Dr. Freud a little excited.
(And that’s in the condition he’s in, right now.)