Jim & Pam: Stop Raising Real-Life Expectations

Why TV relationships ruin my life.

By Jeremy Glass

I’ll admit it: TV relationships make me happy. There’s something about the optimism and love that warms my icy heart and genuinely makes me smile. Whether it’s Jim and Pam from the Office, Leslie and Ben from Parks & Recreation, or even Randy and Lahey from Trailer Park Boys – I won’t deny the fact that I get all mushy and squishy from these fictional relationships; shoot, sometimes I just want to grab the nearest teddy bear and squash its face into my tits. But, this isn’t going to be an article about my swelled heart, gentle cooing, or awesome tits. It’s a plea for people to stop taking these relationships seriously and get their heads into the gosh-darned real world, for goodness sake.

Here’s the thing, call it personal preference, but I’d like to see what would really happy to Jim and Pam if we all lived in the real world. For instance, the episode of The Office where they can’t get ahold of each other. This is part of the story arc of Pam living in New York City for art school while Jim stays behind to sell paper in Scranton. As we all know, this whole thing eventually leads to Jim proposing to Pam in a truck stop off the side of the highway. Anyway, the entire episode is spent with the two characters attempting to get each other on the phone, but failing. Their frustration is felt, but neither of them say one angry word. At the end, they call each other at the exact same time, getting each other’s voicemail – the next sequence is adorable as they unknowingly recall the exact same story to each other. Alrighty, way cute, but a complete lie.

Here’s what would have actually happened. Backtrack to the first time they’re on the phone together – Dwight does something stupid, Jim gets distracted, and Pam gets angry.

“Jim, what the fuck? Can you pay attention to me for like a minute?”

Jim, since this is real life, isn’t nearly as smooth as he is on the show and retorts:

“Pam, come on…could you just…come on? Babe, come on. I’m sorry. Are you mad at me?”

“Yeah, obviously. I just said I was. You know what? Forget it, I’ll just talk to you later, I guess.”

“Babe, I—hello? Pam? Hello?”

Then they spend the rest of their day sulking with the overwhelming thought that they may be wrong for each other. The seed of doubt is planted, but their lives go on. Until the very next phone call.

“Hey Jim, sorry about before, today just kinda sucks ass. What are you up to?”

Jim, distracted again, sticks it out on the phone. He is determined to make this work, but unfortunately his determination is mixed with distraction.

“Oh nothing, hanging out. What are you doing?”

“Walking around! It’s so beautiful in the city. We have to go to Washington Square Park together, it’s like Central Park, but with way more going on.”

Dead air on the other side. Jim is totally enveloped in the antics Michael Scott. He catches himself and responds.

“Yeah, definitely! Yeah…man I love parks.”

The switch is flipped again. Pam sees red and hangs up the phone.

“Babe! Babe? Where are you? Hello?! Babe?”

The duration of their relationship is not what we’ve seen on television; there is no baby, no marriage, no incredible acts of kindness. It becomes dark, spiteful, manipulative – Jim acts out and has sex with Angela, and gets chlamydia, but then he lies about it and gives Pam chlamydia. Doesn’t matter…she stopped trusting him a long time ago and has been sleeping with Roy anyway. I guess there is a baby in her future – but it’s Roy’s, not Jim’s. Jim eventually finds out, quits the paper game, and moves to Richmond, Virginia, where he falls in love with some hood rat punk girl and gets her pregnant. The problem? She’s underage. That one sour conversation turned Jim into a registered sex offender. Not that Pam’s future is anything to brag about. Roy, still being suspicious and paranoid, constantly thinks Pam is still sleeping with Jim and resents her for it.

Hell, he even thinks the baby could be Jim’s. So over the course of the baby’s life, whose name has to be Kayla or Shay or Shayla becomes conditioned to hate her cheating whore of a mother. Shayla acts out and starts doing crystal meth at an early age, rife with hate and betrayal. She dresses in black, drinks flavored vodka, smokes cigarettes, gets her eyeballs pierced and starts listening to that new band who makes dub-step remixes of Paul Giamatti soundbites. Her whore mother is everything she aspires not to be, so Shayla does everything she can to escape. She eventually hooks up with a gang of ice-shooting junkies and takes the first Amtrak to – oh my god – Richmond, Virginia.

Okay so maybe I have a love/hate relationship on how dating is portrayed on television. On one hand, it gives me hope in my future endeavors: I like the idea of finding a sweet lady who will squeeze my hand and make me waffles with a side of double bacon in the morning. Maybe there’s someone for everyone in the world who is your perfect second half – the kind of person who makes you feel like you just swallowed a live butterfly, who stops you dead in your tracks with their smile. That kind of love is beautiful. On the other hand: THIS IS FICTION. You’re going to find your “Jim” or your “Pam” but you’re going to ruin their lives because you hate the way they pronounce the word “saw” and think their thighs are too fat. Then you’re going to see your new soul mate four weeks later through your empty bottle of Miller High Life! They’ll make you feel wonderful and maybe – MAYBE it’ll last. If not, you’ll find someone better after. Life goes on. In the meantime, I’m going to keep watching TV, because the small part of my heart that is still warm and pulsating needs a snuggle-buddy. I’d probably have a highly sexual relationship with a flat screen TV if it had nice legs.

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