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4 Shows like The Office (U.K): Eccentric Characters, Wacky Humour

Eileen O'Sullivan itcherWhen ‘The Office’ first aired in July 2001, the ‘mockumentary’ genre came into its own – mock documentary that satirises real life situations. Its main character ‘David Brent’ was played by UK comedian Ricky Gervais, and the show launched his subsequent global challenge to take on the world of comedy. If you like TV Shows like ‘The Office’, you’ll love ‘The Office US’, ‘Parks and Recreation’ and ‘Fawlty Towers’. ~ Eileen O’Sullivan

‘Ground Breaking Mockumentary’

You either loved him or hated him – ‘David Brent’ was a first class plonker – on a mission to gain power and respect in the small world of an English office, based in the unremarkable town of Slough. His total lack of self knowledge and the ability of Gervais to pitch the parody perfectly made this show a world-wide phenomenon.
Check out these series like ‘The Office’ for more lovable oddballs in conformist situations.
‘The Office US’ (Reveille Productions/NBC Universal TV, 2005)

The US version of ‘The Office’ took the format and the basic characters and made the show its own. So it’s a mockumentary about an everyday work place, this time set in Scranton, Pennsylvania in a paper supply company.

With the tagline ‘a show for everyone whose boss is an idiot’ ‘Michael Scott’ takes the place of ‘David Brent’ – again he’s a self-deluded, insensitive control freak who you just can’t help but love – and laugh at. Throw in various engaging co-workers and you have a TV show that successfully made it across ‘The Pond’ to the States.

Similarity Match: 95%
Both shows are set in small towns from nowhere, both are filmed in mockumentary style and both reflect the original vision of Ricky Gervais. They each have a nutty boss in the central role. The differences reflect the fact they’re based in different continents – one is very ‘English in humour’, the other very ‘American’.

‘Parks and Recreation’ (Deedle-Dee Productions, 2009)

Another ‘everyday’ work situation set in mockumentary style, ‘Parks and Recreation’ has its own set of oddball characters, this time a mixed bunch of bureaucrats on a mission to improve their home town of Indiana.

Similarity Match: 90%
The concept of ‘Parks and Recreation’ owes a lot to ‘The Office’. A mockumentary about ‘ordinary’ folk going about their workaday business, it portrays their relationships within an affectionate yet witty parody. However it’s just a lot, well sweeter, than the ruthless comedy of ‘The Office’.

‘Fawlty Towers’ (British Broadcasting Corporation, 1975)

Who could ever forget ‘Basil Fawlty’ – famously portrayed by John Cleese of ‘Monty Python’s Flying Circus’ fame? Tall, almost spiky in appearance he looks ultra-conservative and is actually a comedy anarchist, eccentric and determined to control his little universe – ie the small seaside hotel of ‘Fawlty Towers’.

His wife ‘Sybil’ is the secret power behind the throne and his waiter ‘Manuel’ with the famous question ‘Que? Que?’ all adds to the mayhem.

Similarity Match: 85%
‘Fawlty Towers’ is very like ‘The Office’ as it portrays a typical work place in middle England presided over by a quirky ‘boss’ who is portrayed by a comedy genius. It is not a mockumentary, though it is hilarious enough, played ‘straight’.

‘Absolutely Fabulous’ (Saunders and French Productions, 1995)

Well it’s all in the name – the show (aka ‘Ab Fab’) was absolutely fabulous, dahling! Set in the world of London Fashion and PR, it introduced us to the irresistible and bonkers duo, ‘Edina’ (Eddie) and ‘Patsy’.

It fiercely parodies the world it inhabits, penned by brilliant comedian Jennifer Saunders, who also plays the main character of ‘Edina’.

Similarity Match: 80%
An egocentric main character/boss (this time a woman) has absolutely no self awareness and runs her work and personal life as if the world revolves around her. A wayward child in the body of a woman she is strongly reminiscent of David Brent, though is much less conformist.


Big Fish, Small Pond, Lots of Laughs

These four shows similar to ‘The Office’ are all equally as funny in their own right. They all owe a lot to a very ‘knowing’ British type of humour that lays on the irony, parodies social convention and has us all in stitches.
What are your own picks for series like ‘The Office’?
Please feel free to join in the debate!
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