The Office Season 4's Funniest Conference Room Debate Was Almost Cut

The hilarious The Office season 4 conference room debate was almost cut from the episode. Originally created by British comedians Ricky Gervais and Stephan Merchant, the American version of the show debuted in 2005 and ran for nine seasons after which it soon became recognized as one of the best sitcoms of its time. The Office went on to receive 42 Primetime Emmy nominations, winning five. One such nomination was for season 4, episodes 7 and 8, "Money," written by Paul Lieberstein.

With Jan (Melora Hardin) living with Michael Scott (Steve Carell), her need to change Michael's lifestyle caused the Dunder Mifflin regional manager to get a second job as a telemarketer. Following a late-night, Michael was to give a presentation on Microsoft PowerPoint, but he bungles his way through it. In the ensuing argument about the importance of PowerPoint, Ryan Howard (B.J. Novak) uses the word "whomever" to which Michael scoffs and says, "Whomever is never actually right." This leads to a hilarious debate among the employees about how to properly use that word with Creed (Creed Bratton) calling it "a made-up word used to trick students." Kevin Malone (Brian Baumgartner) chimes in stating that he knows what's right but calls everybody "jerks" for not coming to his band's performance. It's not until Pam (Jenna Fischer) and Toby's (Lieberstein) explanation that it is determined that Ryan was correct in his usage of "whomever."

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In an episode of The Office Ladies podcast (via Mashable), Fischer and Angela Kinsey revealed that the funny conference room scene was nearly cut from the episode entirely. Fischer explained that there was quite a bit of opposition within the writer's room to remove the scene but Lieberstein fought to keep it in the episode. Read what Fischer and Kinsey said below.

Kinsey: He fought for it. He loved it. And I love every beat of this conference room scene.

Fischer: He told me that there was like a vote in the writers room to cut it. There was a lot of pressure on him to cut that runner. And he really felt like it should stay in. And he's really glad he did, because that's the clip they ended up playing at the SAG Awards when we were nominated that year. It was the whoever/whomever scene.

The inclusion of the grammar debate at the SAG Awards only gives credence to the writing quality of the scene. As the argument provides minimal advancement of the plot of the episode, Fischer explained that the scene was a choice for removal. However, the two are pleased that the scene stayed as it is regarded as a highlight of the episode by both critics and fans.

Although the "whomever/whoever" discussion may not push the story forward in any big way, the running joke allows the entire main cast of characters to play off each other. The moment also further enhances certain minor subplots such as Kelly Kapoor (Mindy Kaling) insulting Ryan about their break-up with her comment about being used as an object, or Kevin's anger that no one saw his band play. However, an important purpose of the scene is to delay Ryan's employment ultimatum later given to Michael causing expectations to rise, building suspense through the humorous tangent. Although a common tenant of good writing is to "kill your darlings," this scene is something that would have benefited no one on The Office's cutting room floor.

2022-07-07T13:55:20.000Z

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