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I had this ongoing story going for myself that Jan had become more hard and more masculine by climbing the ranks in a man’s world and by almost putting aside her femininity. Melora Hardin (Jan Levinson): Jan’s boob job came from the first year that we went to the [network] upfronts [where advertisers preview upcoming shows], and I turned to Greg and said, “It’s funny, I’m looking around at the females in our cast, and I’m thinking nobody in our cast has a boob job.” Now, I’m not sure that I’m totally right about that, by the way, but that’s what I thought. The writers approached the “Dinner Party” table read with some trepidation since it was so dark.
Lee Eisenberg (co-writer): When Melora first came on the show, she hadn’t done a ton of comedy. And then the comedy started drifting more toward her, where she actually got jokes, rather than being the straight person and being the reaction shot. Gene Stupnitsky (co-writer): It started off very slow. Little by little, it just starts building, and I never experienced that before. Lee Eisenberg (co-writer): There’s nothing more satisfying than having Steve Carell barely able to get through his lines. You’re seeing someone experience it right in front of you for the first time, which is great.
It’s just a boiling-hot crucible of comedy.” To celebrate its 10th anniversary, we tracked much of the cast and crew for an oral history of the landmark episode. Writing ‘The Dinner Party’ Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg joined the “Office” writing staff in Season Two, penning memorable episodes such as “The Secret” and “Women’s Appreciation.” Gene Stupnitsky (co-writer): We kind of talked about “The Dinner Party” as Who’s Afraid of Jan Levinson-Gould? And just the world’s worst dinner party, the most awkward dinner party – with your boss.
We had set it up earlier, where Michael kept asking Jim and Pam for plans, and they kept having excuses.
A line would happen and the audience, along with the people at the dinner, would just kind of sit there and let it hang.
Michael Scott is always the fool, but in this moment he outsmarts Jim and Pam because he so desperately wants to hang out with them.
Despite some huge differences with her new boyfriend – she was an accomplished, Type-A corporate executive, he an affable doofus – Jan moved from New York to Scranton and into Michael’s cheesy condo.
The dinner party was Jan and Michael’s attempt to show off their happy home; instead, they showed off how utterly dysfunctional their relationship was.
They were usually scenes like a diversity-training seminar in the conference room.
Once Jim and Pam got to the condo, this entire episode was a killing field.