As usual, a very long post that I meant to be short about an amazing TV woman who I love. I can’t get Dwight’s voice out of my head saying, “Pam, Pam, Pam…” in the 8th season when he caught her for lying about moving to a new office.
"Pam, Pam, Pam…"
The Office. Where do I even start. The Office is my all-time favorite show. All-time favorite. Not only do I find it hilarious, smart, and witty but it has helped me through some really tough times. I have watched the entire series through… honestly over a dozen times. With the risk of sounding a little insane or just a little cliche, I REALLY feel I have real relationships with these characters. I love them all so much, and I’ve enjoyed watching them grow, and then watching the series over, and watching them grow all over again.
One of my favorite characters is obviously Pam Beesly. Pam started off as shy and reserved, and she was in a terrible relationship with Roy who she had been engaged to for several years. Roy did not appreciate Pam and did not value their relationship. While in this relationship, Pam did not have much self-confidence and it was clear that she never stood up to Roy or broke it off with him, because she felt that she could not do much better. She was stuck in a relationship that she felt was the best she could get. Which was totally untrue cos Roy was a huge big fat jerk!!! Anyways, Pam becomes braver as the series goes on, she accepts her romantic feelings for best friend Jim Halpert, and becomes much more assertive, honest, driven, and courageous when it comes to getting what she wants. She breaks things off with Roy and eventually marries Jim.
That scene from “Beach Games,” when Pam walks the coal walk and has a very public, direct, and intimate conversation with Jim about their friendship and how she wishes things were different, is one of my favorite scenes in anything EVER!! I’m routing for Pam and so proud that she has come so far and feels confident to be honest with herself and with everyone else. Even in the following episode when her coworkers make fun of her for said speech, and Karen Filippelli (Jim’s girlfriend at the time) approaches her saying she “forgives” Pam for what she said because “everyone says things they don’t mean,” Pam does not back down and stands by her word unapologetically. Go Pam! Seriously!! It’s really an amazing moment for her character. And really an amazing moment for young female fans of the show, to see a woman who is asserting her desires, being open, being honest, and we are not meant to view her as a “total bitch” (as Karen calls her), but we are meant to love her even more for it, and we route for her success.
Another aspect that I just love about Pam is her relationship with Michael Scott and how it blooms throughout the series. Pam demonstrates an amazing ability to deal with this ignorant and deluded regional manager, and she shows great empathy and understanding towards him, while also doing her best to be honest and to keep him in check and accountable for his actions. Not only that, but they form a genuine friendship throughout the show. Pivotal moments that signify this friendship include the episode where Michael is incredibly touched by a painting that Pam did (“You did these?! These could be tracings!”); when Pam follows Michael when he quits Dunder Mifflin and forms the Michael Scott Paper Company; and ultimately in Michael’s last episode, “Goodbye Michael,” Pam serves as Michael’s scarecrow, and their goodbye at the airport is the most touching goodbye of all.
The other awesome quality about Pam’s character that I adore is her open dislike for scumbags, aka Ryan the Temp. Her ongoing fued with Ryan is fueled by his arrogant persona, and also his blatant disrespect for women, particularly Kelly Kapoor. I just LOVE the episode where Pam continues to put down Ryan as he proposes to Kelly on a big white horse dressed in some sort of traditional Indian wear. She yells things like, “boo!” “you suck!’ and “barf!” because this man has cheated on Kelly, treated her like garbage for years, and been just a true asshole, and he continues to get away with it. Pam’s open anger is something I really relate to because, like I’ve mentioned in my “I’m not a murderer, but that’s why I love Kate” post, one thing in my life that I am most passionate and angry about is when men treat my friends like crap.
Anyways, throughout the series, Pam becomes more independent and explores her interests. She is interested in art, and with the support of Jim, she moves to New York for 3 months to pursue a degree in graphic design. She fails an important class, and decides to come home because graphic design just “isn’t her thing.” But it’s implied that Jim being in Scranton was an equal part in her decision to come home. After she fails art school, “art” becomes a little bit more than hobby for Pam, mentioned scarcely here and there.
Later, she decides to leave Dunder Mifflin and support Michael in his start up paper company. The company has no money and no real direction, and runs itself out of business very quickly. She returns to Dunder Mifflin as a sales representative. Pam tries but really struggles with sales and is ultimately unsuccessful in her attempts. After months, possibly years, of struggling in her sales position, in a strange set of spontaneous circumstances, Pam decides to create her own job as “office administrator.” She really succeeds in this arena, and we can see that she is happy and good at this job. (This job is a somewhat glorified receptionist… but I won’t open that can of worms).
Towards the end of series, Pam’s art interests resurface again, and she is actually commissioned to paint a mural or two in the last season of the series. This is a very proud moment for Pam, as she is finally finding a way to make money with what she loves to do. And it’s her talent and her drive, despite her previous “failures,” that get her there.
Now, in the last season of The Office, one of Jim’s series-long aspirations begins to collide with Pam’s series-long journey of self-love. From day one, Jim wants to get out of Dunder Mifflin, and we all know he is smarter and better than the position he is in, so we want more for him. When he has the opportunity to start his own sports marketing company with a group of close friends, we are all very excited for him—except for one thing, Pam is not comfortable abandoning her life in Scranton to move to the West Coast to follow Jim’s dreams. I’m not even going to get into the relationship tension this causes, and Jim’s lies about it, and Pam’s seeking of comfort in another man, because in the context of what I’m talking about, it doesn’t really matter much. The point is, Pam ends up compromising and realizing that what Jim wants is what she wants— and not in a “I’m-just-gonna-follow-my-husband-blindly-and-abandon-my-desires” kind of way… but in a, “hey-I-love-you-you-love-me-I-want-to-support-your-dreams-too-so-let’s-start-a-new-life-together” kind of way. It shows the strength of their partnership and Pam genuinely decides she wants this as well.
Now, like everyone else, I wanted Pam and Jim to be together from the beginning and am so happy that they are! They treat each other with respect and love and Jim encourages Pam to accomplish her dreams (unlike Roy) and he genuinely takes interest in her interests. So obviously, Jim for the win!!! But it just bugs me that Pam’s story (on the show) ends with her making a decision based on her husband’s life, even though she originally was very much against it. I don’t mean to hate on Pam because I love her so much!
I mean, it’s pretty simple. Pam’s sacrifice to support Jim’s dreams would not annoy me as much if we didn’t live in a world in which this was the resolution of every female character’s storyline. And if Pam hadn’t had such a powerful transition throughout the series, where she became self-empowered. I think all I’m saying is her character just could have been more interesting, and more challenging to female stereotypes on screen. Having Pam drop all of her desires to follow Jim’s dreams just isn’t creative and the brilliant writers of The Office have the capability to be more original than that. BUT that being said, I kind of love Pam in the same way that I love Kate Austen (Lost). I love her because there are some remarkable aspects of her character that represent female empowerment and REALNESS. She stands out in the sea of sameness among females characters in Hollywood. Not only that, but I can relate to Pam’s character—being the shy, timid girl who wants to make everyone happy and always worries about herself second… but who then transforms into an assertive, brave, honest, and (still) lovable lady with self-respect! I am just disappointed that there wasn’t more of this Pamazingness!
I will end with Pam’s final words of the series:
"It would just make my heart soar if someone out there saw this, and she said to herself: ‘Be strong, trust yourself, love yourself, conquer your fears, just go after what you want, and act fast, cos life just isn’t that long.’"