Jim and Pam Should Not Get Together

Yes, that's correct. I believe that Jim and Pam should not get together. Ever. But before I convince you of this stance by using an amazing combination of logic, analysis, and personal experience, some background is in order for those who are unfamiliar with the show. The embedded video is a four-minute promotional by NBC that will familiarize you with the plot so far.

To summarize:

Jim and Pam - Destined?
  1. Jim and Pam work together. Jim likes Pam.
  2. Pam is engaged to Roy, who is a chode.
  3. Jim and Pam flirt lots, but it goes nowhere, because of Roy.
  4. Jim finally comes clean with Pam, kisses her. She rejects him.
  5. Jim accepts a promotion at a new branch. He moves on.
  6. Pam breaks her engagement because she's hot for Jim.
  7. Jim meets Karen at the new office. Karen is fun, hot, and available.
  8. The two branches merge, reuniting Jim and Pam. Pam is still hot for Jim.
  9. Jim starts dating Karen, so Pam waffles with getting back together with Roy.
  10. We now have the love quadrangle: Jim, Pam, Roy, and Karen all working together.

Are you with me? Good. The writers have done an excellent job of creating a realistic, believable story to date. In fact, my beef is not with the writers, but with the viewers. There's an overwhelming opinion that Jim and Pam need to get together, because "they're meant to be" or some other garbage. The vehemence with which my sister hates Karen is impressive. "You like Karen?!" she cries. "She's a man! She's ugly! That skank needs to get her filthy paws off of Jim!" This is not an exaggeration, and Gretchen speaks for most of the show's female audience. The prevailing attitude is that Jim and Pam are star-struck lovers, and they will ultimately find each other in the end.

Karen: Not ugly, not a man.

If The Office were a feel-good romantic comedy starring Jennifer Anniston then yes, that's how it should end. But it's not. One of the greatest strengths of The Office is its simplicity: the show has real characters with real jobs and real problems. This isn't a crazy sitcom where ridiculous situations are crafted for laughs. The genius of The Office lies in how ordinary the exposition is. We feel attached to the characters because they aren't that different from us, and that sameness ties us to them.

This brings me to a story from personal experience. Not unlike Jim, I was very much into a girl who, at the time, was already seeing somebody else. We hung out a lot, and I felt like there was a real connection. She broke up with her boyfriend, and I asked her out a few months later. She turned me down. I appreciated her honesty, and we're friends to this day, but that's the end of the story for me. While I still find her attractive, I won't make another move because the ball is in her court. Asking her out again not only jeopardizes our current relationship, it indicates that I'm desperate - that I insist on clinging to my feelings for her. Ladies, you've all had that guy who just wouldn't leave you alone. Isn't he annoying? Isn't he pathetic?

I am not that guy, and Jim is not that guy. If my friend wants to become romantically involved with me, she has to make the move. The same goes for Pam. The problem here is that Pam missed her chance. She canceled the wedding, and in her mind Jim would immediately swoop in and sweep her off her feet. Only, Jim didn't crawl back; he moved on. He started dating Karen, or the "New Hotness," as I call her. So Pam got back with Roy. Kinda. And then redumped him. Sorta. And then got back with him again. Maybe.

And therein lies the great crux of the situation: viewers are frustrated with Jim for not trying to get back with Pam, but they hate Roy for getting in the way. But wait! Think about it from the perspective of the characters: Jim and Roy are very much the same! Both like Pam; both were rejected. If Jim makes another move, he's romantic, but if Roy makes another move, he's a jerk! See that? It's a double standard. Let me say that again. It's a double standard. This is an effect not lost on the writers. "You should talk to Roy," Michael tells Jim. "He knows exactly what you're going through."

Jim and Pam should not get together because it would contradict Jim's character, and it would violate one of the basic tenants of the show: realism. A romantic likes to believe that she can treat a guy like crap, change her mind, and conveniently find him standing outside her apartment in the rain. That's very romantic, very sexy, but not real. In the real world, if you treat a guy like Pam treated Jim (flirting constantly, leading him on, admitting that you want to kiss him, rejecting him anyway, and never attempting to reconnect), the guy moves on to someone who is honest with him and treats him with respect. Someone like Karen.


Say now you loved me all along?

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