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Posts Tagged ‘the office’

The Message: Pam, The Office, and Dreams Deferred

In gender on August 12, 2011 at 7:36 am

Sarah Todd

“It’s impractical. I’m not going to try to get a house like that. Um, they don’t even make houses like that in Scranton. So I’m never gonna…” – Pam, “Boys and Girls”

Whatever happened to Pam? I ask this question with all the love and loss it’s possible to feel for a fictional person, because there is maybe no other television character I have ever cared about so much.

Pam, portrayed on The Office with warmth and humor by Jenna Fischer, got to me because she was a woman struggling to stop holding herself back. She had dreams, but for a long time she didn’t believe in herself enough to even admit them. Her tamped-down aspirations manifested themselves physically in the curly locks she kept half-clipped back, a hairstyle that communicated a mild sense of resignation. The one time she let her hair loose, her boss got gross; she reached for her barrette.

Her life didn’t match what she wanted, and her character arc in the early seasons was about learning to take responsibility for changing it. The first, most obvious thing that was wrong was her love life. She was engaged to the lug-headed Roy, her high-school sweetheart, when she was clearly in love with wry and playful Jim. The second thing that was wrong was that Pam wanted a creative career, and the only creative part about her job as a receptionist at a struggling paper company was inventing ways not to die of boredom. Read the rest of this entry »