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  • Nicholas Ozag

Why Robert California is the Most Underappreciated Character in "The Office" US


When Steve Carrel, the main star of the sitcom "The Office" left the show, the writers struggled to find an adequate replacement. They experimented a lot and attempted to get different characters to fill the void that Steve Carrel left. Despite their best efforts, the majority of the fan base reacted negatively to the replacements. Robert California, portrayed by James Spader, is no exception to this. He joined the show a few episodes after Steve Carrel’s departure in season 8. Some viewers argue that Robert is a poorly developed and unlikable character. Which can’t be completely dismissed as his crazy ideology’s can come off as pretentious and nonsensical going against the shows grounded and relatable approach to viewers. However, in my opinion, Robert California is over-hated and one of the best parts of the show, and in this article, I will explain why.


Firstly, Robert California is a well-written character that challenges the viewer's expectations. He enters the show as the new CEO of Dunder Mifflin Sabre, after the departure of Jo Bennett. From the moment he walks in, it is clear that he is not like any other character on the show. He speaks in a cryptic and philosophical manner, making him an enigmatic figure that leaves viewers puzzled. Robert's odd behaviour and mysterious personality create a sense of unpredictability, which keeps the viewers engaged. This diverts from the shows realistic tone but in the later seasons, like many other sitcoms, the office started to become increasingly crazier. There where episodes where someone shot a gun in the office, an episode where a few staff members won the lottery and used their winnings to invest in an energy drink targeted towards asian homosexuals and many other unbelievable scenarios. So having a character that diverts expectations isn’t really that bad. I wouldn’t be a fan of him if he where just weird. Robert's humor relies on his strange observations and bizarre anecdotes such as "I will not be blackmailed by some ineffectual, privileged, effete, soft-penised debutante. You wanna start a street fight with me, bring it on, but you're gonna be surprised by how ugly it gets. You don't even know my real name; I'm the f***ing Lizard King."or "Everything is sex. Do you understand that? Everything is sex. You know what I mean by that? Not just the obvious things, but let me tell you something: Every aspect of our daily lives is affected by our sexual desires.", which often leaves the other characters perplexed. His humor can be seen as surreal, and his oddness can be a source of amusement for viewers who appreciate his offbeat humor. Thirdly, James Spader's portrayal of Robert California is exceptional. Spader is an accomplished actor, and he brought a level of gravitas to the character that made him stand out. His voice and mannerisms create an air of mystery around the character, making him intriguing to watch. Spader's portrayal of Robert California is nuanced and multifaceted, and he adds depth to the character, which makes him more relatable. Finally, Robert California's presence in the show helps to explore the themes of power and control. He is a character who is in a position of authority, and he uses his power in unconventional ways. Robert's approach to management is unorthodox, which leads to several conflicts with the other characters. His presence on the show helps to explore the power dynamics within the office, and his unorthodox methods of management provide an interesting contrast to the other characters. In conclusion, Robert California is a character that should be appreciated more as it is difficult to find such unique characters that challenge the viewers expectations in so many ways. While I do agree that the last two season of the show aren’t on par with what came before Robert California contributes so much to season 8 and deserves more appreciation.

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