Transmedia: Dunder Mifflin, Shrute Space, & More

The comedy, The Office, an adaptation of the BBC series of the same name, gained a huge viewership and is a prime example of television overflow. Of the many transmedia extensions in The Office universe I will be focusing on the character blogs and company websites, and how they evolved alongside the plot of the series. While these sites may not have been visited by casual viewers, “…a diehard fan who lives the experience of a show rather than merely watching it,” can use them as sources to further understand the universe of the show and the characters they love (Brooker 470).

The character blogs from The Office have a unique authenticity because of the way the show was made. Actors would sit at their desks while other characters were being filmed and update their blogs while in character and on set. As a result, the blog posts seem to be an accurate extension of their character and allow for passionate fans to learn more about each member of Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 10.41.42 AMDunder Mifflin Scranton in a very real way. The character blogs are engaging because of the ensemble cast which is, “…based not on individual characters or specific plots but rather complex fictional world which can sustain multiple interrelated characters and their stories” (Jenkins). One of the most popular character blogs, “Shrute Space,” belongs to one of the fans’s favorite characters of the show Dwight Shrute. On this blog Dwight writes lengthy conspiracy theories and complains in usual Dwight hyperbole about the people in in the office, which provides added depth to the character and allows for his fans to understand him. In addition to Dwight, Meredith and Creed have blogs, and Creed even had his blog mentioned on the show.

 

Websites within The Office universe also was a large of the series’s online transmedia. The paper company they worked for, Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 11.19.48 AMDunder Mifflin had a website that evolved and changed as the company went through mergers and changes in management. In the beginning the website looked exactly as one would expect. When Ryan takes over and tries to rebrand with a younger look and new website the fans got “Dunder Mifflin Infinity” an interactive site for the fans where they could complete challenges, earn “Shrute Bucks.” Finally, when Dunder Mifflin was bought by Sabre the website underwent a final change to a slightly different looking but similar website under the Sabre name.

The opportunity for fans of the show to read articles written by their favorite characters is something quite special. When I first watched the series I saw all the characters as real and each episode a glimpse into the lives of the people I was growing to love. As Jenkins says in his essay on transmedia, “We are drawn to master what can be known about a world which always expands beyond our grasp,” and while to some that may seem daunting, to the hardcore fans its an exciting fact that means there is always more to find out about The Office.

Sources:

Jenkins, Henry. “Transmedia Storytelling 101.” Confessions of an Aca-Fan. N.p., 22 Mar. 2007. Web. 19 Feb. 2015. <http://henryjenkins.org/2007/03/transmedia_storytelling_101.html&gt;.

Brooker W (2001) Living on Dawson’s Creek: teen viewers, cultural convergence, and television overflow. International Journal of Cultural Studies 4(4): 456–472.

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