We watched them flirt. We watched them pine, first him, then her. We watched them get together, get engaged, get married, and have kids.
Who doesn't love Jim and Pam? But lately, well, they've hit a bit of a rough patch. As The Office draws to a close and we prepare to say goodbye to the folks at Dunder-Mifflin, our adored-and-adoring couple seem to be somewhat on the outs.
Still, they need to spend some time in therapy. No stigma need apply — marriage counseling is not just about saving a marriage when the answer is either therapy or divorce, it's also about working on issues that need to be addressed before they become, as our friends in Hollywood love to say, "irreconcilable differences."
The nice thing is that they're both at fault. It's a lot easier to solve problems when the blame doesn't sit squarely on one person's shoulders.
First, Jim. Parking-lot-love-declaring, gas-station-proposing, charming, romantic Jim. For every girl who doesn't go for the bad boy type, Jim Halpert has been a stellar TV boyfriend.
But lately, the dude's kind of had his head up his ass. I get it. He's bored. Jim's always been a guy working below his potential. But here's the thing...
You don't start a company out of town without first talking to your wife. No matter how excited you are. No matter how great an opportunity it is. No matter how much you want to throw yourself in front a train if you have to sell one more ream of paper. Especially when you have: a) a mortgage b) two children c) bills to pay.
Granted, the show hasn't said a huge amount about Jim's and Pam's financial situation, but Pam did mention looking for a weekend job to help pay for their wedding, they don't seem to spend out on clothes, and I can't imagine having two children can lead to more money (unless they sell the kids on Facebook like that woman in Oklahoma). But one might imagine income would be fairly important to them.
The mortgage is, of course, another bill, but generally one that merits its own category because it's a lot easier to give up cable than it is to give up a roof over your head.
The kids thing trumps the money thing altogether. Yes, the Halpert children are quite young and are unlikely to remember that, for a certain amount of time, their father was not around. And yes, there are certainly instances in which one is required to travel frequently for business. Still, you don't bring that on yourself, for an indistinct amount of time.
That all said, you can go ahead and scratch the last three paragraphs. Because it comes down to this: You don't start a company out of town without first talking to your wife. You don't invest money, quit your job, or decide you are going to be away from home part-time without first having at least one long, long talk with your wife (or whatever word is appropriate for your particular partner/cohort).
Not cool, Jim. Not cool.
But it's not all on Jim's head. Because Pam, sweetheart, you're kind of killing me right now.
What happened to Fancy New Beesly? What happened to the girl who called Jim out on his crap in front of everyone, and who could handle Michael Scott with one hand tied behind her back? Why are you back to your washed-out cardigans and waiting until the last minute to say what you want?
You don't tell your husband you're okay with him buying into a new, unestablished company two hours away from home if you're not actually okay with it. There's way too much potential for resentment to build up and explode.
I cheered Pam on when she told Jim to not go back to Philadelphia on Valentine's Day.
"I think you should stay and we should fight."
Yes! YES! Exactly what they need. A good get it all out there, lay their cards on table, decide what they want TOGETHER come-to-Jesus.
And at first they seemed to have made progress. She went to Philly for a job interview. One job interview. And, well, it wasn't great. So...
"I don't know if I want this," she told Jim later, over Chinese food, about moving to Philadelphia.
"That's a little out of left field," he replied.
Okay, what happened? Did she not express herself or does he need to clean the wax out of his ears? But let's put that aside for a minute.
Jim is being a bit of an idiot, no question, but Pam might be getting on my nerves more right now.
Life is not about stasis. People move on. They change jobs. They live in different cities. They have new experiences. (Yes, sometimes they experience new people, but I don't get the impression that either of them want that — even with cute boom mic guy lurking around now). I've never actually been to Scranton, Pa., but I feel like it's probably not such an amazing place that leaving there would be the worst thing in the world.
I get it. As much as I get Jim's desire to do something he cares about, I get Pam's resistance. She's comfortable. She likes her life. Change is scary. She doesn't have anything for herself in Philadelphia. She needs a purpose beyond wife and mother.
But she's digging in her heels and it's just making things worse.
Google "Jim and Pam" and the first thing that comes up is "Jim and Pam divorce." That's the "will they or won't they" question the fans are asking now.
The folks at the show have prided themselves on those two being the most "real" characters, but they've also been a pretty ideal real couple. Personally, I think to split up this couple would be to spit in the face of not only everyone who has followed their story for nine seasons, but also everyone who works hard at a relationship.
So let's see Jim and Pam working hard at their relationship. The two people who could say 1,000 words with a 27-second stare need some serious help in the communication department right now.
I know, the final episode is in the midst of filming right now. And I do trust the creative, if slightly twisted, mind of Greg Daniels and his cohorts. But if I were running things, Tracey Ullman would be cast as the marriage counselor.
And as long as we're in the world of "if I were running things" for a minute, I'm sort of hoping that former science teacher colleague of Jim's was not given her ex-profession randomly. Anyone else think Pam could make a pretty great art teacher?
Just sayin'. She could probably use a new challenge as much as Jim could.
So we'll see what happens.