Even in a beloved sitcom like The Office, some things about it just don't age well. The series first premiered in 2005 on NBC as an adaptation of a short-lived BBC series. After a rocky first season, it went on for nine seasons before ending in 2013. Today, it is fondly remembered as the show we all binged when it was on Netflix. But not everything from the show translates well today, especially Jim and Pam's relationship.
The Office is a mockumentary sitcom chronicling the life and times of the employees at the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company in Scranton, Pa. Regional manager Michael Scott (Steve Carell) works under the delusion that he is a good boss and friend to his employees, despite his general ineptitude and lack of social awareness. He and the other employees at Dunder Mifflin have their own work drama throughout the series. But do Jim and Pam remain a couple to root for after all these years?
Are Jim and Pam from 'The Office' in a toxic relationship?
Much of the workplace culture in The Office remains perfectly relatable even today, but some of its early-aughts humor has aged about as gracefully as Michael trying to do parkour. The show features plenty of casual transphobia and cringeworthy Donald Trump references that might be tough for some to revisit in the early 2020s. One aspect of The Office that has become rather divisive among fans is how healthy the relationship is between Jim Halpert (John Krasinski) and Pam Beesly (Jenna Fischer).
Jim and Pam are two Dunder Mifflin employees with a tight connection with each other at work. We find out almost immediately that Jim has a crush on Pam, but his romantic advances are often made moot by the fact that she's been engaged to Roy Anderson (David Denman) for several years. With Roy often being neglectful of Pam's feelings, Jim figures he has a shot at winning her heart. Eventually, they end up together. By the end of the series, they're happily married with two children.
In recent years, some Office fans have looked back on the relationship unfavorably. In a Reddit thread, some have interpreted Jim's feelings as creepy. One user stated that Jim started as "disturbingly obsessed" with Pam as he hid his true feelings behind a decent friendship. The same user accused Pam of openly flirting with Jim despite her engagement only to reject him for an entire season more before agreeing to go on a date with him.
They went on to reference later seasons, in which they accused Pam of being too controlling over Jim's career path.
The thread caused plenty of debate among fans, with many taking sides regarding the toxicity of Jim and Pam's relationship. We're here to say that their relationship isn't the worst in TV history, but it is far from perfect.
The rocky start to their romance is reasonably indicative of their arcs. With Jim stuck in a dead-end job, he naturally focuses on the one thing at work who he cares about. Meanwhile, Pam rejecting Jim's advances stems from her character flaw of fearing drastic change. Roy is emotionally neglectful during their engagement, and Pam's journey involves her realizing that she could be happier over the course of her relationship with Jim.
In Season 3, things start teetering toward toxic.
After Jim requests a transfer to the Nashua branch, Nashua employee Karen Filipelli (Rashida Jones) develops feelings for him. She takes those feelings with her when several Nashua employees are transferred to Scranton. When Jim and a newly-single Pam reunite, their romance is thwarted by the fact that Jim basically invites Karen to be with him.
Even after openly admitting to Karen that he still has feelings for Pam, Jim would rather pursue a relationship with Karen.
Pam is guilty of the same thing. Despite her efforts to rekindle her relationship with Jim, he fails to reciprocate her feelings even though he totally feels the same way. Again, that's because he chooses to be unhappy with Karen than be truthful with Pam.
This causes Pam to briefly reunite with Roy, who had done his best to become more caring in Pam's absence. In that sense, both Karen and Roy act as rebounds for two people who would save so much emotional turmoil by just admitting their feelings.
It's only thanks to Pam's epiphany in "Beach Games" that she's able to overcome her complacency and speak to Jim honestly again. But by the time they actually go on a date, both of them have put other people through the wringer.
By the end of the series, they work out many of their kinks. They even go so far as to leave their jobs at Dunder Mifflin in order for Jim to pursue a new career path in the final episode. In other words, the two of them learned how to communicate with each other long after it could've proved a little more useful.
In retrospect, we're still happy that Jim and Pam are together. It's just that their path to getting there is not without several casualties that could've been avoided.
At the very least, Jim and Pam are nowhere near as bad as Michael and Jan.
All nine seasons of The Office are currently streaming on Peacock.