NBC's Green Week Logo
When NBC announced that it would devote an entire week to promoting saving the environment and “going green,” my first thought was how The Office could cleverly incorporate that message into an episode. The synopsis of ‘Survivor Man’ was promising…Michael goes into the wilderness to see if he can survive on his own. That right there gives you plenty of great opportunities to discuss the environment and how we need to save the planet. And while 'Survivor Man' may not have been the best episode of the series, it did manage to do the impossible: it promoted the environment and “going green” without making me want to puke.
For those who are confused, let me point out that this comes after watching the entire Thursday night lineup. For those who didn’t see all the shows, allow me to elucidate. First, on ‘My Name Is Earl,’ Earl is asked to head up a presentation that is supposed to scare school children into not breaking the law. Then, inexplicably (and without any real reason) Earl is forced by the warden to discuss the environment in his presentation. It felt to me like the writers wrote the script, then just before shooting started, they realized they needed to add a green message and threw it in somewhere so NBC wouldn’t be mad.
David Schimmer on '30 Rock' with Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin
Next, we have the worst example of forcing “green” into a script, on ‘30 Rock.’ First, they bring in David Schwimmer to play Greenzo, an eco-friendly mascot who lets the thought of saving the environment go to his head. And, when Greenzo finally goes off the deep end, Al Gore shows up. Now, I’ll give Al Gore credit for pointing out some good ideas on how big businesses can save the planet, but he loses me when he hears the call of a whale in trouble and runs off to save it. Then, on ‘Scrubs,’ the janitor becomes obsessed with saving the environment. Once again, a show tries much too hard to put a green message in a plot where it doesn’t really belong. Finally, there is ‘ER’ which spends the first five minutes having the characters debate global warming. Then, one of the doctors shows off his new hybrid car, which is as stupid looking as it is eco-friendly. In short, not one of the shows mentioned above was able to cleverly and obtusely throw in the “going green” message without it feeling like it was just shoved down our throats by a huge conglomerate company that, I might point out, is partly to blame for global warming.
Once again, The Office succeeded where others have failed. Not once did any of the characters mention their hybrid car or recycling or even saving the planet. As Michael Scott is left alone in the wilderness to test his survival skills, we are merely allowed to view the beauty of the forest ,with its majestic trees, and imagine breathing the fresh air. The Office gives us a glimpse of what we need to try and save, without coming outright and saying it.
Micahel Scott in the wilderness
It would be hypocritical of The Office to tell us to save the environment when the show is about a company that makes its living off killing trees. Michael even points out that the tree that is doubling as his headrest will most likely end up being Dunder Mifflin paper. Thankfully, the writers prove that they can add a green message without turning the show into a green platform. Maybe that’s why the writers deserve our support in the strike. I would hate to think what the NBC executives would come up with to push “going green.” Michael would probably go on a crusade to get Dunder Mifflin to stop selling paper. And we all know how badly that would end.