‘The Office’: 7 COVID-19 References We Can No Longer Miss Today


You thought you could escape the global pandemic by binge-watching old TV series? Well, it’s not always the case…just like the American sitcom The Office (2005-2013) proves!

In this article, we’ll be referring to the U.S. version of The Office, a popular comedy TV series of the 2000s. Filmed as a mockumentary, it follows a group of what seems to be « typical » office workers inside of Dunder Mifflin, a small paper company. In the first seasons, each episode is made of a plot that is resolved at the end of this episode, so we get—more or less—independent episodes. But as the show evolves, the plot lines broaden the scope of the TV series.

While some TV series have decided to incorporate the COVID-19 situation to their plots, some TV series were—coincidentally—ahead of their time. It’s almost strange to watch episodes in which more than 10 people gathered in a small room, but it’s even more strange to notice some COVID-19 « nods ». We’ve decided to present some of these priceless moments: 

Business Trip (Season Five, Episode Seven)

Steve Carell as Michael Scott – © NBC

Let’s start with this classic. In this episode, Michael Scott (Steve Carell), who’s in charge of the office, underlines a strange, but no-so-Italian, basic sanitary rule. « This is considered to be polite, » he adds. Well, when you’re watching this episode in a post-COVID 19 context, these lines hit differently.

St. Patrick’s Day (Season Six, Episode Nineteen)

Angela Kinsey as Angela Martin – © NBC

Definitely, a must have! When one of her coworkers gets sick, Angela (Angela Kinsey) carefully decides to wear a custom embroidered face mask. What could we say? She was ahead of her time. And if Covid-19 had struck a decade earlier, she’d have been 100% prepared.

Training Day (Season Seven, Episode Twenty)

Ed Helms as Andy Bernard – © NBC

Andy Bernard (Ed Helms), a salesman, tries to fit in the « funny man » role that his new boss recently gave him. « What you’ve got for me? Make me laugh, » the guy commands Andy. After spilling coffee on his pants and throwing food everywhere, Andy ends up drinking some soap…reluctantly. But he still did it.

Christening (Season Seven, Episode Seven)

Pam (Jenna Fisher) tries to sensitize her coworkers through a Hygiene Day training because it’s « that time of the year ». The employees are told that they should cough into their elbows (the « Vampire Cough » method), wash their hands regularly, and get a flu shot. Also, most importantly, they shouldn’t come into work if they’re sick! She also wants to set up hand sanitizing stations around the office. However, Dwight (Rainn Wilson) condemns these methods as he explains that exposing your immune system to germs is simply « the best solution ».

Gay Witch Hunt (Season Three, Episode One)

The Office Gif
Kate Flannery as Meredith Palmer – © NBC

Meredith (Kate Flannery) decides to eat or drink—whatever you prefer—Angela‘s (already wearing a mask, remember?) hand sanitizer. One thing you need to know is that she’s an alcoholic and we can guess she needed alcohol in a way (hand sanitizer contains some combination of alcohol). Just a regular day in the office, or maybe she was just living in 2020?

Weight Loss (Season Five, Episode One)

The Office

Pam sets up a virtual video conversation—not on Zoom, thank God!—with Jim (John Krasinski) as she’s in New York (no spoiler!). Michael can’t resist to steal Jim’s laptop after he noticed her on the screen. And he obviously ends up adding a joke: « Don’t we all look skinny. » Not saying they started the trend of video calls, but these characters seemed to enjoy it way too much.

Phyllis’s Wedding (Season Three, Episode Fifteen)

The Office Phyllis Wedding

Last but not least! Dwight seems a little bit concerned about all the people present at Phyllis’ wedding. Call it whatever you want, but he might have summoned the current global pandemic. Plus, in the following episode (« Business School »), a bat gets loose in the office…just saying.

To sum up, you can no longer avoid COVID-19 references. So, you should pay more attention to these kind references in pre-coronavirus TV series because it’s nice to laugh about it sometimes. But who knows, perhaps some TV series will be set in the coronavirus era with more depth, and mostly, more seriousness in the future!