It’s been 20 years since The Office first aired on BBC Two, with Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant completely transforming the sitcom format as we knew it.
But Mackenzie Cook, who starred as the woefully socially inept Gareth Keenan, assistant to David Brent, the egotistical regional manager of fictional paper company Wernham and Hogg, doesn’t think the noughties comedy could be made with a 2021 lens.
Former member of the army, Gareth was perhaps the most xenophobic and misogynistic creature at Wernham and Hogg. In hindsight, Mackenzie called his character a ‘bit of a monster’.
‘I didn’t remember him being so… urgh. The things he comes out with when he’s trying to chat up girls are diabolical,’ he told The Independent.
The Worzel Grummidge star called his performance ‘odd’ and ‘more cartoonish’ than everyone else in the sitcom, which also starred the likes of Martin Freeman and Lucy Davis.
‘I seem to be doing much more than everyone else. Everyone else seems to be very natural, and then I just seem to be coming in from a different angle,’ he said.
While he’s unsure if The Office could be made with the same jest today, it was ‘a document of its time,’ said Mackenzie.
‘What we were portraying back then were things that were being said in an office environment, and people were getting away with it. So we were pointing it out – laughing at those people who were behaving so badly.
‘But yeah, I don’t think those things could be said in a workplace anymore without somebody picking up on them. So no, you wouldn’t have it now in a comedy.’
However, The Office has been widely lauded for being effectively timeless, laughing at the grim conversations in the work place rather than with them.
‘I doubt that The Office will be criticised in the same way that, for example, Little Britain has been,’ writer and creator Ricky previously told BBC News.
‘In The Office, the audience are encouraged to identify not with the ignorant Brent, but with the characters Dawn and Tim, and the victims of Brent’s ill-conceived comments are never racial or gendered caricatures, rather they are ordinary, intelligent people.
‘The comedy clearly highlights the ignorance of the bigot in a way that Till Death Us Do Part and others failed to do.’
The Office is available to stream on Netflix UK.
Credit: Original article published here.