"That’s What She Said": Gender, Satire, and the American Workplace on the Sitcom The Office

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Entertainment programming such as the television satire The Office relies upon audience members’ understanding of both Western gender norms and stereotypes as well as corporate codes of behavior and management within an office space. This qualitative analysis of The Office utilizes real-world workplace scholarship on gender as a framework to explore the ways in which the show addresses workplace gender issues, including male and female workplace hierarchies, corporate initiatives serving as an unintended catalyst for gendered tensions, and mixed-gender interactions in the form of informal office interaction and office romances. Though the show’s satire does effectively ridicule facets of patriarchal authority and hegemonic masculinity in the American workplace through its mockumentary production style and use of “excess as hyperbole,” the lack of repercussions for offending characters and stereotypical portrayals of women in the workplace undercut the The Office’s transgressive potential.

Original Citation

Birthisel, J. & Martin, J.A. (2013). “That’s What She Said”: Gender, Satire, and the American Workplace on the Sitcom The Office. Journal of Communication Inquiry, 37(1), 64-80. https://doi.org/10.1177/0196859912474667