Once Accepted, Now Shunned

Tommy McCosky
3 min readSep 21, 2020

Over a decade ago, media that was consumed back then is completely different to the media that is being consumed now. One example of media back then was the hit TV series The Office. The Office was a comedy sitcom originally aired in Britain and then gained a new version made in the US. Even though the comedy in episodes of The Office were funny, a majority of the jokes made back then, specifically by Michael Scott the regional manager of the Scranton, Pennsylvania branch of the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company, aren’t as accepted today. In the episode “The Convict”, Martin, a black man and a transfer from another branch, wasn’t looked at the same when everyone learned that he was an ex-convict and used to live in prison.

Right off the bat when Martin starts working at the Scranton branch, he already gets treated odd at best or intrusive and stereotypical at worst by Michael. When a group of the workers there were assigned to help document the transfers, they learned that one of the transfers was convicted of a crime which aroused fear and curiosity among them. They tried to guess who it could be and when Martin’s name was brought up, Michael just thought it was a racist remark. When Martin was confirmed that he was the convict, Michael was concerned with the racial issue. Michael tries to befriend and warm up to Martin but that creeps him out. It got to the point where Michael called a meeting and put on an act just to try and seem relatable. This angered Martin to the point of quitting. Due to Martin’s race, Michael put on a whole act to lessen a problem that didn’t even exist and in turn caused more problems.

Martin also looked down upon by Dwight. When Dwight learned that there is a convict working at the office, he wanted him gone. Dwight claimed that he didn’t care if Martin was black, white, hispanic, etc., he only cared for the fact a criminal worked there. Dwight immediately gained resentment towards Martin even though he didn’t learn why Martin was imprisoned or that is a part of his past.

Martin was also treated abnormally by his coworkers. When everyone learned about Martin’s past, they got very nosey to learn about prison life. Martin agreed to tell them about it and he claimed that it wasn’t too bad and everyone started glorifying him for it while Michael tried to explain to them that prison isn’t a good place. Even though Martin told everyone about his past, he still was very uncomfortable about it. Michael tried to get the attention away from Martin out of pure jealousy as well as making racist remarks toward Martin.

In the end, this episode of The Office shows standards of the media that have been changed as time moves forward. Obviously, racial issues weren’t absent back then, but they were handled differently in the media. Now those topics are not handled as lightly as it was back then and the jokes that The Office used to make, about race as an example, would not be proudly put on national television today. Even though these issues in the media have changed over the years, the media lost a part of itself due to this change, specifically in comedy. If this wasn’t changed and it was put in a more positive mindset, then tensions wouldn’t rise and everyone can have a good laugh.