One of the biggest fights The office fans must endure is The office Great Britain vs USA. The answer to which one is best depends on several different factors, but much of it boils down to the audience’s view of their specific comic stylings. Do you prefer Steve Carell’s lovable hassle or Ricky Gervais’ unbearably honest attitude towards a malicious boss who is inflated with his own self-esteem? Both characters have different personality types.
No one can deny that both actors reached their performances, so it really comes down to personal taste. In the end, each show played for its audience.
Updated January 15, 2022 by Lynn Gibbs: In 2001, the BBC released a show called The Office. The series lasted for two seasons and focused on the small tasks for those working at the Wernham Hogg paper company. Office UK was a hit, but did not last long enough to make the same kind of success as many beloved American sitcoms.
In 2005, NBC took a stab at their own version of The Office, focusing on similar characters at the paper company Dunder Mifflin. The difference between The Office UK vs US is the humor preference. Both shows have similarities, but several differences keep the two sitcoms apart.
Office US had more romance
The main romance in the British version of the show was Tim and Dawn. It was the sweet spot between David’s humorous disgust and Gareth’s arrogance.
Their Office American colleagues, Pam and Jim, were also the main focus for most of the show. But as the seasons progressed, there were more couples to focus on. Angela and Dwight were one thing for a while and eventually got married in the series finale. Andy and Erin, Phyllis and Bob, and Erin and Pete are other examples. Even Michael found romance with his former HR boss, Holly. The office slowly focused on couples who all loved or hated.
The office in the United States had a shift change
With only two seasons, the British version of The office did not have much time to introduce new characters or move around them. Yet the American version did. Throughout its nine seasons, the show portrayed something that usually happens in offices – people come and go.
The one with the biggest effect was Michael’s departure in season 7. This led to more people in the manager’s seat as show tried to fill the gap. Another change took place when Pam was promoted to sales representative and Erin became receptionist. In a way, it showed that progress could be made in a small office in a medium-sized city.
Office US had several subplots
There was actually a subplot in the main story about Britain Office, but they were quickly resolved. If they were not closed at the end of the series, they were left open for fans to consider. In some ways, it was good. In others, it left fans of the original Office want more.
Some of the subplots in the US version continued for an entire season or even several years. This created better seasons than others. Dwight’s goal of becoming the branch’s manager was one. The course with Oscar and Angela’s husband also ran for a season or two. It helped this version of The office to avoid being a one-joke series.
Office US had fewer cringe-worthy moments
Michael definitely had his scary episodes in the US version of the program. Most of them took place during the first few seasons, with his character’s profile resembling that of British David Brents. But as the show continued, Michael’s moments of embarrassment for everyone, including the viewers, were hardened by softness.
For example, for most of season 2’s ‘Booze Cruise’, Michael is his normal awkward self. But when Jim reveals that he has feelings for Pam, Michael wipes that person away and seriously says he should continue to pursue her.
The United States office had a happier ending
Although the finals for both versions of The office had similar elements (by getting everyone to gather for a picture instead of the office staff), the British version was more repressed. It all showed three years later in various forms of disappointment. Especially David, who kept hanging around in the old office to get attention.
This was not the case for the American crew. For the most part, everyone’s life had a happy ending. Even characters like Andy, the series’ sack, ended up fulfilling their dreams. Overall, The office the finale was perfect and it made viewers feel comfortable with the band’s life after the show ended.
David Brent from the UK office vs Michael Scott from the US office
While both David Brent and Michael Scott are sure to get fans crawling, David Brent’s character will probably make fans crawl harder. Sure, Michael Scott is ignorant, tactless, petty and self-centered, but he manages to have some redemptive qualities. David Brent? Not so much. Unlike American shows, British shows do not often feel the need to make their show stars more viewer-friendly; they are 100% down on making the viewers feel uncomfortable throughout.
In the American version of The office, people can (and do) change for the better while in Office Britain, the signs remain static. If David Brent is creepy, he will remain cringey.
Office US had more character development
For the most part, both the British and American version of The office has equal numbers of characters, but viewers will notice that the US supporting role is much more well-developed. Why? Probably because Ryan “The Temp” (BJ Novak) and Toby from HR (Paul Lieberstein) also act as lead writers for the show.
When a supporting character writes countless episodes for the series, they will inevitably expand the depth of supporting cast members.
Pam Beesly from the US office vs Dawn Tinsley from the UK office
Both Pam and Dawn are slightly oppressed, neighbor-girl types, who are both stuck in dead-end receptionist positions and let their dreams fall by the wayside, but how are they different?
Dawn’s character is much less confident and remains tied to her life as a receptionist throughout the length of the show. Pam, however, has an almost butterfly-like transformation from an underrated, insecure office worker to a confident, successful woman.
Jim Halpert from the US office vs Tim Canterbury from the UK office
The British Tim Canterbury is a little bit more believable than Jim Halpert’s character; the British like to keep it real. In the British version, Tim is a true underdog who lives with his parents and has a lot of charm (but not too much).
He is doing well at work, but his dreams remain dull and he is not particularly motivated. America, on the other hand, could not have Pam’s greatest love interest still living with her parents. As a result, Jim Halpert was made a “better catch” for the American audience (and for Pam), so that their relationship timeline could continue.
Gareth from the UK office vs Dwight from the US office
Dwight Schrute is a perfect example of an American supporting role taking his own life. Dwight’s character is annoying, but he’s also one of the eye-catching members of the show because of his funny antics, Amish-like background, and entertaining one-liners. According to Dwight, he was one of the smartest people in the room.
Gareth, on the other hand, is more realistic and therefore less exciting. Unlike Dwight, Gareth is the annoying, glorified errand boy who actually is do work in an office. He is a calculated and ignorant military lad who believes that everything in the office should be run according to his specifications. He is always right and everyone else is wrong.
The office in the United States was much longer
There’s another big reason why the side characters are better developed in the American version of The office: the entire length of the show.
A total of 201 episodes of The office was aired over nine seasons in the United States. By comparison, there were only 12 episodes of the British version (and two specials). Unlike the American version, there were no satisfying or happy endings to be had when it was over. Things continued to go on in the office, just as they always have.
The US office had a larger budget
It probably will not surprise fans to find out that the American version of The office had a much larger budget than the British version, which led to a lot of guest appearances from some big guest stars, including Idris Elba, Will Ferrell, Amy Ryan, Kathy Bates and Rashida Jones.
Ricky Gervais even appeared and played his own character, David Brent, where he once became friends with Michael Scott outside an elevator and then applied for a job with Dunder Mifflin. The British version, on the other hand, never let star power get in the way of an office worker’s daily, boring life.
There is a difference in comic style between Office UK and Office US
Both versions of The office is a perfect example of the great differences between American and British humor. Above all, the British appreciated the scary, realistic characters in the show as well as the brutally honest, albeit satirized, depiction of office life. The characters remained static throughout the length of the show.
On the other hand, Americans demanded fluent characters and crazy, exaggerated humor to offset the frightening hassle of working in an office. In other words, the British audience watched The office so they could laugh at themselves, but the Americans watched The office so they could laugh at the characters.
Optimism in the office USA vs pessimism in the office UK
British culture is overwhelmingly pessimistic about the future, according to a poll The independent, whereas Americans are considered wildly optimistic in comparison. This sharp cultural difference can be seen in the stories in both versions of the show.
The British version is more sardonic and cynical, while the American version is lighter, warmer and easier to see. In general, Americans believe that people can change for the better, and this is seen in the relationship between Pam and Jim and Michael Scott himself. As similar as Michael Scott and David Brent are, their conclusions are drastically different.
The US office has a more glamorous cast
Many of the characters in the show received glow-ups, especially Jim and Pam. Jim was tall, sweet, funny and very handsome (but in a welcoming way). Meanwhile, Pam changed her hairstyle and added modern clothes to her wardrobe.
Although neither Dawn nor Tim from the British version are unattractive in any way, the appearance of their characters remains the same. In the American version, both Jim and Pam’s appearance improves as their lives improve.
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