While The Office has diverged from the British verison it is based on, it none the less, has become a funny show that pokes more fun at corporate America than Dilbert ever could. Its season opener this past Thursday, The Gay Witch Hunt, show cased to the straight viewer how inappropriate the word "fag"is, and hopefully educated them as well.
For Michael, the boss of this team who has suffered from a chronic case of foot-in-mouth disease in the past, accidently outs office accountant Oscar after trying to make amends to him for referring to Oscar as "faggy."
Like so many straight Americans, the word "fag" or "so gay" is supposed to mean lame, and Michael goes on the defensive by saying he would never call a retarded person a "retard", let alone a gay person "faggy."
And while the episode -and Oscar - try to point out how that comparison isn’t any better, The Office’s attempt to explain why the phrase is so wrong and is one reason why this show is a suitable replacement for the now cancelled (and much more brilliant) Arrested Development as one the funniest shows on TV.
For Michael, and for millions of slightly unenlightened Americans who bandy the word "gay" around like candy during Halloween, he never meant it in a cruel way. For him, gays are found in large cities, or as noted on the episode: the Bravo show, "Project Runway." Its hard for him to wrap his brain around the concept, as he sees his co-workers as being just like him. He never thought that words could harm someone he cares and knows about.
Then, after all is explained to him, Michael goes out of his way to make amends, by calling everyone into the conference room. The episode goes from great to outstanding as Michael lets Oscar know that he’s accepted and embraces him and plants one of the most awkward kisses seen on TV since Michael Jackson planted one Lisa Marie Presley.
And for Oscar, who never wanted to out at work and who has kept his private life just that, becomes nobody’s fool, either. He is portrayed not as a gay stereotype, but as real character and who, at the end of the day, is just like everyone else: he’s mediocre at best and seems to give the impression he would rather be somewhere else than at work.
One the other aspects of this episode is that Oscar wants to quit, but we found out that he stays only because, as most people would do, he can be bought. The company gives him three months paid vacation and a company car. Which just goes to prove that the character is fully human, with many foibles and not the butt of any ones joke. There are few TV shows who make this valiant attempt to show that gay people are just one of the gang.