Satirical humor uses different techniques such as ridicule and irony to criticize or comment on issues going around in society. The TV show “The Office” is a satirical documentary, or a mockumentary, about the office place. A precise example would be Season 2 episode 15, called “Boys and Girls.” This episode uses satirical techniques including irony, incongruity, and exaggeration to focus on issues with women in the workplace.
To begin with, this episodes main criticism focuses on gender norms in society, and more specifically in the work place. The episode opens up with every female character in a meeting talking about woman empowerment. Michael, one of the bosses and main characters, keeps trying to be a part of the meeting and listen in because he feels threatened that he’s not included and even has the audacity to think that the women were having a meeting about him. The episode continues on to Michael forming his own meeting of only men and how they feel towards their issues in the workplace and about women’s rights, only to capture Jens attention who’s running the “woman in the workplace meeting”. Since Michael was being very obnoxious with his meeting, Jan makes them move the meeting down to the warehouse where other concerns arise like starting a union, and not only talking about gender based equality but also on racial topics. Meanwhile back in the meeting, Jan who is trying to be a feminist and pro active is being prosecuted and criticized by the other women.
The fist technique of satirical humor that was used in this episode of The Office was exaggeration. Exaggeration is when a situation is hyperbolized or overstated. An example is when Michael walks into the “woman in the workplace meeting”, what was supposed to be a simple meeting gets blown out of proportion. Michael starts his own meeting and is overly loud and makes everyone start clapping just to get the attention of everyone in the female meeting. Another example is when Michaels “men in the workplace meeting” is taking part downstairs he exaggerates so many issues that all the workers decide it’s a good idea to start a Union against management.
The whole episode was ironic because a discussion that was supposed to touch on gender based equality and woman empowerment had so many underlying issues. For example, Pam wouldn’t follow her dreams and continue educating herself on what she enjoys because of what her husband wanted her to do instead. Another example is when Jan is trying to make her female employees feel just as important in the work place one of them criticizes her outfit and calls her a “whore”, and another woman also calls her out for sleeping with their boss. That was the complete opposite of women empowerment, not to mention that when asked about their life goals one woman answered with “I don’t want to be a stay at home mom who drives a mini van. I want an SUV”. Instead of wanting to grow as a person they all have a closed off mindset and belittled futures for themselves.
Another technique used was incongruity because you would not expect such unprofessional behavior in the workplace or from your bosses. For example, When the “males in the workplace” meeting gets moved to the warehouse Michael states “I’m actually head of the warehouse and I haven’t been there in months!” which is not what would be happening in real life. When Michael is in the warehouse with both the office and warehouse employees he completely destroys the warehouse by knocking everything down and playing with the machines. Instead of the boss being concerned about all the shipments, he doesn’t care that everything is going to run late now and that none of his employees are getting any work done because of his interruptions. Another contributing factor is that its frowned upon to have sexual relations with your partners of work but in this episode everyone knows that their bosses are sleeping together and there are also several other relationships going on through out the show.
To conclude, in this episode of The Office, satire is very important and crucial to properly portray the issues of gender equality in a humorous manner. The script of this show used satirical humor techniques that included irony, incongruity, and exaggeration to show the negativity in society when it comes to the differences between males and females in the work place. While this whole episode was still a parody, a deep problem in society was touched on and reviewed.