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The Office - Is the US or UK Version Better?

Updated on November 10, 2014

Which "The Office" Is Best? Here's What I Think...

I've watched the entire series for the American and British versions of The Office. They're both hilarious but the US version is better.

David Brent might say "Yeah, he's American and watched the US version first so who cares what he thinks." He'd be right. But one of the many things David doesn't know is that I'm a big fan of British comedies and really enjoyed the UK version (still can't get "Free Love Freeway" out of my head).

The shows are similar but each has its own style. The US version has better development of the supporting characters. The US and UK plot lines share some common elements but go their own way after the first episode.

Both versions use a lot of subtle references and "under the breath" type dialog. Being American it was easier for me to catch more of the humor in the NBC version.

Watch both versions and decide for yourself.

About The Office

What is this show?

In 2001, the BBC sent a film crew to document daily life at the Slough, UK branch of the Warnham Hogg Paper Company. The show aired for two seasons and a follow up Christmas special in 2003.

In 2005, the American network NBC sent a crew to film a documentary of daily life at the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company's branch in Scranton, Pennsylvania. That version ran for nine seasons before ending in May, 2013.

The show is really a mockumentary. Both companies are completely fake, dysfunctional and funny examples of how not to run a business.

Since the original BBC version ended France, Germany, Brazil, the US and even Canada have all produced their own versions of The Office.

Clips From "The Office" - US Version

Clips From "The Office" - UK Version

Your Turn!

Which is better...the US or UK version of The Office?

The American version rocks!

The American version rocks!

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    • Deborah Demander 3 days ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

      One of my favorite shows. I have watched every season, multiple times. And although the UK version is funny, the American version is far superior.

      Thanks for writing.

      Namaste

    • Jem 4 weeks ago

      The UK version.

      Firstly: It revolutionised situation comedy. Not only did it spawn the US version, but there are versions of the Office all over the world under various titles. That's a huge legacy to have, which the US version can never boast.

      Secondly: It's more real. For people who like to binge on happy, upbeat and easy sitcoms, the US version is king - it's buttery tasty popcorn. But if you want a bit of grit, a sense of realness, a cynical commentary on life in an office working a meaningless job with same people day-in-day-out, then the UK wins. Because that's what made it so compelling in the first place; it isn't 'just another fun sitcom', it's painfully, awkwardly real, and funny because of it.

      Thirdly: It wraps everything up in 2 seasons and a special (intentionally - it wasn't cancelled). Any longer and the UK version would have suffered. Gervais and Merchant made just enough to give a hilarious and moving slice of life that leaves you wanting more. The US version was rewritten to fit an American sensibility, and that meant it could be dragged out for season after season - but that didn't mean it could always maintain the quality factor. More isn't always more. Sadly, much like Parks and Rec, it lost its freshness long before the end.

      So that's why in my opinion the UK version is superior. But at the end of the day it really does come down to your sense of humour and your culture which you prefer to watch. Americans will almost always prefer their version - it's tailor made for them. And vice versa. Both have their place.

    • anonymous 3 years ago

      Let me first come clean and confess that I'm from England. That is neither here nor there. The simple fact is that the original version with Ricky Gervais as the hapless David Brent was extremely funny if you appreciate British humour. I do, so I vote for that series.

    • anonymous 3 years ago

      definitely american no comparison

    • BigRedDomino 3 years ago

      US!!!

    Don't be daft! The British version is the original and best!

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      • Bella 20 months ago

        The British version honestly kinda sucked compared to the american version. America is the master of television, comedy, and entertainment but the uk version was kinda dull. The US version is one of my favorite shows

      • Surreymagic 2 years ago

        I may be biased but I prefer the UK version- it's the original and Ricky Gervais's David Brent character makes me want to hide under a chair and cringe! I love all the little looks, pauses and subtleties in the UK version.

      • anonymous 2 years ago

        British. The main reason that the British version is superior is that it knew when to stop. Gervais knew that he wanted to go out on a high note and did. But as with most american shows, they churned out new seasons and episodes when they should have given up after Michael left or even as early as season 3.

      • anonymous 3 years ago

        The only reason Americans don't like the superior version is they don't get sarcasm which is clearly the greatest form of whit. I'm biased as I'm English but the two series and Xmas specials of the original are once in a lifetime stuff. The us version is good but it's dumbed down sitcom tv.

      • anonymous 4 years ago

        British.

      David or Michael?

      David and Michael are both completely delusional about their managerial and entertainment abilities. Both are masters at distracting their employees from getting work done and creating socially awkward situations.

      David seems to get more bitter when he feels slighted than Michael does. Michael has shown an ability to somehow make sales when needed.

      Question: Who would you rather work for?

      See results

      Leadership

      Leadership
      Leadership

      Character Match Ups

      The Office characters don't share the same names between the BBC and NBC versions. This can be distracting when you start watching the other version until you figure out who each character's equivalent is on the first version you watched.

      Here's a cheat sheet for the major characters...

      Dunder Mifflin (US)
      Wernham Hogg (UK)
      Michael Scott
      David Brent
      Dwight Schrute
      Gareth Keenan
      Jim Halpert
      Tim Canterbury
      Pam Beesly
      Dawn Tinsley
      Karen Filippelli
      Rachel
      Jan Levinson
      Jennifer Taylor-Clarke
      Roy
      Lee
      Kevin
      Keith
      Todd Packer
      Chris Finch
      Ryan
      Ricky
      US vs. UK Characters

      Dwight or Gareth?

      Gareth and Dwight are both fascinated by combat. Gareth is a Lieutenant in the British Territorial Army. Dwight has a purple belt in Karate and is a former volunteer sheriff's deputy.

      Question: Who would win a fight to the death?

      See results

      Jim or Tim?

      Encasing Gareth/Dwight's stapler in Jell-o. Gluing Gareth's phone handset to the base. Adding weights to Dwight's handset each day then removing them suddenly so that he hits himself in the head when answering the phone. Prank calls. Fake CIA missions for Dwight. Hiding everything from Gareth's desk. Getting Dwight to believe Jim was turning into a vampire. Hiding a dildo in David's office. Hiding Andy's cell phone in the ceiling.

      These are just a few of the pranks Tim and Jim have played on their office mates. But who is the better prankster?

      Question: Who is the master prankster?

      See results

      Jim Halpert / Tim Canterbury Tribute Video

      Gareth or Dwight?

      Both are self important and try to claim authority over their office mates. Gareth likes to take personal calls on speaker phone and chant "Oggy, oggy, oggy!" whenever his friends call. Dwight likes to share his knowledge of every subject known to man and plot his rise to power.

      Question: Who would you rather be stuck working with?

      See results

      Ladies, who would you rather date at the office?

      See results

      Romance At The Office

      A cool compilation of The Office romances from the American and British versions.

      Guys, who would you rather date at the office?

      See results

      Desire

      Desire
      Desire

      Own the British Version of The Office

      The Office: The Complete BBC Collection (First and Second Series Plus Special)
      The Office: The Complete BBC Collection (First and Second Series Plus Special)

      Every episode including the series finale special and plenty of extra features. It even has sub-titles for non-English speaking English speakers!

       

      Own the American Version of The Office

      The Office: The Complete Series
      The Office: The Complete Series

      All nine seasons of this hilarious show.

       

      Your favorite version.

      What do you think of "The Office"?

      See results

      David Brent Sings "Free Love Freeway" - A David Brent original.

      They are supposed to be taking a corporate training course but David thinks what the class really needs is entertainment.

      Credits

      The Office images and motivational posters: NBC.com and BBC.com.

      How big a fan of The Office are you? Can a new version of a show be better than the original? What is your favorite moment from The Office? Leave a comment below...

      That's What You Said...

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        • Surreymagic profile image

          Surreymagic 2 years ago

          I loved the David Brent "motivational talk"- totally cringeworthy and painfully funny. Though his dance comes a close second!

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          lawyer-marketing 3 years ago

          Love US version.

        • BigRedDomino profile image

          BigRedDomino 3 years ago

          Huge fan.my husband and I met at work,discovered we both liked the show, and fell in love while watching it. It never leaves the DVD player. We are the real life Jim and Pam.

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          anonymous 3 years ago

          The US versions is painfully unfunny... like most things american.... Will Farell, Jim Carrey, Steve Carrell, Robin Williams, Chris Rock..... the list is almost endless of talentless shmucks that have no idea what true comedy is. The saddest part is watching them try SO HARD and still be SO UNFUNNY. Its kinda' painful.

          ....and that sums up the US version of the office perfectly - its tries SO HARD but is SO UNFUNNY that its kinda' painful.

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          anonymous 4 years ago

          British version of office is so cool!!!!!!!!:)

        • profile image

          anonymous 4 years ago

          @anonymous: Ricky Gervais directed the shows that steal directly from the UK version...that was the whole point!! But after the first few (maybe like 3 episodes), the US version became independent and the characters were able to shine (especially the 'lesser' characters: Angela, Toby, Oscar, Kevin....)

        • IQplusone profile image

          IQplusone 4 years ago

          I love the office - best show on tv

        • profile image

          anonymous 5 years ago

          UK version is CLEARLY better, the US version takes the SAME EXACT scenes from the UK version in their 1st/2nd seasons plus the UK version did it right with 2 seasons and 2 specials. The US version is funny but it has stayed on for 3 or 4 seasons too long.

        • wheresthekarma profile image

          wheresthekarma 5 years ago

          Great lens, I love the office!!!

        • JK Sterling profile image

          Jim Sterling 5 years ago from Franklin, Tennessee

          "You chested on me when I specifically asked you not to?" The office is so funny.

        • TheLeftFitz profile image

          TheLeftFitz 5 years ago

          Awesome lens! I personally prefer the US version; the UK version seems so slow in comparison. *Blessed*

        • howdoyouspellst profile image

          howdoyouspellst 5 years ago

          I ADORE The Office. It's amazing!! So funny. Excellent lens!!

          Blessed by a Squid Angel!! :) :) :)

        • andreaberrios lm profile image

          andreaberrios lm 6 years ago

          My favorite TV show ever!!

        • bestcomedyfilms profile image

          bestcomedyfilms 6 years ago from UK

          great lens and interesting debate, thanks!

        • Surreymagic profile image

          Surreymagic 7 years ago

          Really nicely put together lens (I'm inspired to improve mine, now! For sheer cringeing- the UK version when David Brent does his "motivational" speech, and for the feel good factor, when Tim and Dawn finally get together.

        • justholidays profile image

          justholidays 7 years ago

          Very interesting lens here and well put together!

          I'll feature it on my Friends lens!

          Dom.

        • hayleylou lm profile image

          hayleylou lm 7 years ago

          I absolutely love The Office, only seen the UK version so I can't comment on American one. I have added a link to your lens at my Blossom Comedy lens, 5 stars

        • InkedEmma profile image

          InkedEmma 7 years ago

          Love this lens! Great polls & content! I am a HUGE fan (of the American version!) :) They are both good, but the US is just a tad better. I'm adding this to my lensroll for my Office lens! Thank you!

        • profile image

          anonymous 8 years ago

          I like both.. But I think the UK Version is better.. Ah wait the american version is better... OK I CAN'T CHOOSE.. Both are great!!! Funny!!

        • cappuccino136 profile image

          cappuccino136 8 years ago

          Excellent lens. I'm making my first Monkeybrain lens and I got some good ideas of things I can do from looking at yours. Thanks!

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