Following a plot has been difficult for me the last few weeks, so instead of novels, I’ve been listening mostly to podcasts, including Zach Braff and Donald Faison’s fantastic Scrubs rewatch podcast Fake Doctors, Real Friends. One book I have been able to listen to is Andy Greene’s The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s, and hearing about how basically wonderful all these people who made and starred in The Office are has been a bright spot these past couples of weeks. Everyone on the show is just good, starting at the top with showrunner Greg Daniels, who we learn from the book wrote personal checks for $1200 apiece to every crew member on The Office back during the writers’ strike in 2008, and Carell was so pro-Union that he absolutely refused to film even episodes that had already been written until the strike was over.
Indeed, Steve Carell is every bit as good a dude as you might imagine, too, and it all seemed to kind of flow to the rest of the cast — it feels like one of those environments you’d just love to be a part of. I get the same sense of that from the Scrubs folks as well as the Breaking Bad/Better Call Saul set, based on the Better Call Saul podcast, where those people just bloody adore each other and spend an hour each week complimenting each other.
I think the spirit of hope and optimism that pervaded The Office flowed from Greg Daniels to Mike Schur and to all of his other shows, as well, and I think that the cast members of all of those series have gone out into the world and continued trying to spread goodness, some with better success than others.
John Krasinki is one of those guys who is trying right now to highlight some of the good in the world with his weekly “Some Good News” show. Krasinski is something of a controversial figure around these parts, and I get it, and I don’t begrudge anyone’s issues with him. Not one bit. It’s probably a character flaw within me that I can’t muster the ability right now to see anything beyond his good intentions with his SGN show. For 20 minutes on Monday mornings, he offers something other than grim statistics. I need it because I just don’t have it within me at the moment to maintain the level of anger necessary to fight these cultural and political wars all day long. I need a break to see a utility worker sing to a 94-year-old from a safe distance on her birthday or Brad Pitt offer a weather report or Billie Eilish perform from home for a silly virtual prom that John Krasinski put on for one reason only: To make people feel better about the world for a few minutes. Just a few goddamn minutes. I can’t be mad at it (Also, Krasinksi has donated and raised a lot of money for Elizabeth Warren over the years, so I appreciate him for that, too).
Anyway, here’s the latest installment of SGN, which features Brad Pitt, Chance the Rapper and Billie Eilish performing for the virtual prom, and guest Rainn Wilson apparently calling in from a dial-up modem.
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