26 Jun 2012
One of the great things about living in LA is that, with a very modest amount of investigation, you can totally geek out by visiting the locations of your favorite shows and movies. Our hunt for Arrested Development on Balboa Island reminded me of another little trip we took in May–to the set of The Office. This show holds a special place in my heart. I resisted watching it for years and years because I thought that something so popular could not possibly live up to the hype. I can’t remember exactly when I started watching, but now I think I have probably seen every episode at least 12 times. It is oddly comforting to me (especially for a show in which people are usually very uncomfortable), and I often turn it on when I’m having a rough day and need to unwind a bit. It still makes me laugh, and I don’t know if a more excellent comic character than Dwight Schrute ever has been or ever will be created. I looked up the location a few months ago on a whim, but when I told my little brother that I knew where it was, he checked it out and took great pictures, and then we went with him as a last hurrah before he moved.
The building is on a dead end street in an industrial neighborhood in the valley, a perfect fit for the show. It was kind of crazy walking around and remembering lots of moments from the episodes (“Hey, that’s the pole Dwight climbed up!,” “Hey, there’s the train yard where Michael tried to run away!”) It’s a really interesting chronotope, to be in a space that you’ve seen many times before, but never in person, and one that pretends to be elsewhere. They weren’t filming when we were there, which was probably for the best, since I am sure they tend to shoo people away. We couldn’t go inside, but I did spot Andy’s parking spot.
My little brother was staging all of these awesome shots straight from the show. Here are our cars, banished from the parking lot. You can just imagine Michael’s bouncy castle around the corner, or Andy trying to run Dwight over with his silent Prius behind those shrubs.
This was my first real visit to a filming location, and it was wonderfully surreal. I am still making sense of how a place that looks so tiny can somehow occupy so much more space on tv, physically and culturally. In any case, we really enjoyed our little peek at where the magic is made. Dwight’s Caffeine Corner is all set up and ready to go for the next season. Cheers to that!