The Office "Andy's Ancestry" Review: What Is Wrong With Andy?

The Office S09E03: "Andy's Ancestry"

"Right now I need canned tuna, okay?"

What is going on with Andy?

Remember when Andy was just that guy who tried too hard and had an anger management problem due to his litany of failures? It wasn't necessarily a dynamic role, but Ed Helms played the thing well and it grew into something slightly more nuanced, if awkward. But this season, after coming back into power at the Scranton branch, he's been like 50 shades of asshat.

It's not even the jackassery that I mind so much. It's the inconsistency in character, like he's bipolar for comedic purposes. Including the end of last season, we've seen him vacillate from shrewd corporate backstabber to diehard romantic to juvenile prat to gullible nincompoop all within, I would say, four or five episodes. "Andy's Ancestry" made me consider why it's happening. Why is it that Andy, debatably likeable before Season 9, is so hard to figure out right now?

I think part of it has to do with the writers trying to shove Andy Bernard in a Michael Scott-shaped hole. There was always going to be a certain amount of that when Andy took over the position of regional manager, but they've been hitting it extra hard this year. Nellie is Andy's Toby. Darryl is Andy's Ryan. Andy tends to be a little more prone to fanciful distractions in the office. If he puts on a bandana and calls himself "Prison Andy," I won't be shocked.

So with Andy filling the roles of both Andy and Michael, we've got a mess of a character that's completely erratic from episode to episode. Andy is (now) someone who put together a complex coup to get his old job back but also believes data brought to him by his enemy that says he's related to Michelle Obama.

Sadly, Andy isn't the only square peg being shoved into a round hole. I felt like Oscar's rally to confront Andy about the slaveowners, and his defense of the stance during the meeting, where pretty antithetical to his character. The catty gossiping behind Andy's back: Sure, that's fine for Oscar. But escalating it and insisting that Andy consider his family's wealth tainted is outside of his jurisdiction.

Lastly: Dear The Office, stop trying to make Nellie happen.

She's the greatest square peg of them all. I say it every week, but Nellie is woefully out of place. She's a tertiary character at best (somewhere in the Phyllis-Toby realm), but she always seems to be in the mix, receiving plotline after plotline with the primary, opening-credits characters (she's only missing an individual storyline with Jim). Pam's revelation that Nellie might actually be cool sounded more like the show trying to convince us that it's true. If this is some sort of campaign to temper her character and make her more likeable, I feel like it's doomed. The show positioned her too well as someone who doesn't belong; now it's struggling to make her seem like she should be included.

Speaking of Pam's revelation, there was another part of her story this week that sounded more like meta-response. Nellie suggested that Jim is cheating on Pam, to which she confidently responded that such a thing isn't possible. Jim loves her too much. It was just as much set-up for the lame Darryl-Nellie miscommunication joke later as it was a statement to the audience for why her mind hasn't gone to the bad adultery place. Jim does love Pam too much. Although Jim may be bored with his wife, there's no indication that his eyes have wandered, even when the temp took over during Pam's pregnancy. It's making my foolish suggestion that the couple needed an affair to be interesting all the more sophomoric.

I was of two minds about Jim's secret coming out, though. The conversation with Darryl was great (Craig Robinson really nailed his part this week—I like ambitious Darryl) and the line about how it isn't real until he tells his wife is an astute observation, in general, for any husband with a life-altering plan, but specifically for Jim since nothing is real until it's revealed to his soulmate. That Jim told Pam about it before it got out of hand and Pam was hurt but not livid seemingly frittered away their emotional capital with the secret at all. I debate whether or not this is true to character or not, if Pam would so easily swallow such a thing, but I suppose that assessment can't really be made for another episode or two.

All in all, I felt pretty crappy about this week's episode. There were things I liked (noted below) but overall, this week wasn't nearly as sharp. Time will tell if the plan to Unbland Jam will come to fruition, but ultimately I'd just like to see these characters be consistent, even during the filler episodes. And maybe, just maybe, if we squeeze our eyes closed tight enough and wish really hard, Nellie will just fade into the background until she's just a blurry figure behind one of Jim's smirks.



NOTES


– The opening: Asian Jim was a good prank and one of those that I can't believe hasn't been pulled yet. Practical jokes between Jim and Dwight are turning into Simpsons couch gags: How can there still be more ideas out there?

– As I mentioned above, I like ambitious Darryl. As a person who just browses Lifehacker when I get bored, I think someone catching up on GTD in the office was a great idea and I loved that his ideas were ignored because of a giant waste of time. The point was only driven home further by having Jim agree that he has good ideas. Best arc of the episode and it connected back to Jim's seasonal arc.

– Loved Pete and Clark's clapping and the reverse effect that bent reality. "Just clap through it."

Broken Fourth Wall Moment: The "crew" actually reusing Darryl's pre-recorded soundbyte. Clever, even if I don't totally agree with character directly interacting with the crew.

– The end tag: The Pete-Erin-Andy triangle is on. It's on like Donkey Kong. Why would Andy suggest setting him up with Meredith? Why is that where he went first? Is it because there aren't any other single women in the office and no one has friends outside of work? Yes. Yes, that's it, isn't it?



QUESTIONS


– Over/Under: Episodes before Andy gets hip to the budding attraction between Pete and Erin?

– Was the best line of the night Creed shaking his head to the question of whether or not he has fermented mare's milk?

– Is there anyone who can make a Nellie-less Office like that Garfield minus Garfield site? Are there any Nellie fans out there?

– How do you feel about how Pam handled Jim's news?

Comments (12)
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this show died a while back, but I am strangely loyal to shows I have invested a lot of time in and sometimes maybe I shouldn't be. Lost interest in Jim and Pam years ago, Angela, Oscar and Stanley have also not been funny for years. Dwight peaked a while back and is not leaping to reach the greatness he once had but falling short time after time. Andy as you say is one big haywire mess. Erin is funnier as a one-dimensional quirky weirdo. The only funny or interesting characters left in this show are Toby and Creed and personally I'd love for this season to actually give us more insight to Creed.
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Personally I think The Office can do no wrong, this series has made me so happy over the years I'm blind to when it's sub-par, I only see the good in it. Maybe the problem's not with me though, maybe everyone else just ignores all the great stuff and focuses on all the Nellies of the show. All in all I liked the episode, as long as they're in the actual office (episodes where they leave are sketchy, especially last season) and everybody's there I'm a happy camper.
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I thought it was a descent episode. Yes, the Michelle Obama stuff was a little far fetched, but this is The Office after all. Prison Mike, Survivor Mike, Tube City,....some crazy stuff happened there. On the topic of character consistency, even Michael Scott wasn't entirely coherent. One day he was lovable, the other obnoxious and the next a pretty descent insightful manager. Maybe it was Carell's talent and charm that made it work. Yes Nellie is awful. Bring back the Finger Lakes guy. He was hilarious and my favorite for the manager position anyways. I know it was Jim Carrey and that that's not gonna happen.

We need more Creed! I'm gonna make a sign that says that.
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related to MIchelle Obama? one of the stupidest things ever... could hardly watch this episode and not only because of that
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Another really bad episode ... I could barely watch it entirely just once and I have seen the early episodes numerous times ... last season and this one so far are making me wish they had pulled the plug when Michael Left the show ... that would have been better than this sub par material we get week after week now. Andy, terrible .. not funny, I hate when he's being a jerk ... Nellie, she looks good but I hate her character and she has a lot of scenes now, ruining the show. The clappers, that was stupid. I smiled at Asian Jim, that's about it. It was a D- episode.
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Season 3 Andy was great. Since then, like the show, it's been all downhill. I want to see him have a meltdown like in "The Return" and really flip the F out. Have it so he tries to be buddy-buddy with everyone, but he loses it at the drop of a hat.
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I've said it for weeks now, Andy is now being written to be Michael Scott, and it doesn't work. Ed Helms can play a jerk as easily as he can a goofy nice guy, but his jerk comes off as entirely unlikeable while his goofy nice guy is likeable and tolerable and just not core-of-the-series material. Glad to see others agree. Michael Scott as the core of the show worked because they made him slightly likeable and human where Ricky Gervais' David Brent had far less and became intolerable to watch much sooner - season 1 Michael Scott was much more of that and they ditched that guy quickly, which led to audiences holding onto this show for a long time.

I found Oscar's behavior fairly consistent, he leaps to his liberal beliefs before considering consequences, we've seen it in the past, but never in such a direct and hurtful manner I suppose.

"Stop trying to make Nellie happen" is the best advice ever - it just doesn't work at all, she's a funny actress but this character and her role is not useful or likeable or even tolerable.

Anyway, yeah, this was a crappy episode.
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I have always disliked Andy, but this season it feels as if we are meant to hate him. He is truly a jerk. The way he treated Darryl and Erin this episode was beyond Michael Scott stupidity and just plain mean. And even Michael knows not to set anyone up with Meredith. Take out Nellie and I am still enjoying the new direction this year, even if it is not up to what we'd seen a few years ago.
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I didn't get the end tag. Also, I'm upset that they aren't using Toby as much as they should. He's the funniest character on the show now.
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besides creed right?
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Loved Asian Jim: the re-do of the family picture just sent it over the top!! Nellie isn't that bad, but I like the British influence, kind of an homage to the original Office. Andy is and has always been a fool. His story with Erin=blah. who cares. It got to me when Pam said "i wonder why he didn't want to tell me", she is doubtful of course can't wait until they can leave. I am looking forward to a Micheal Scott reunion then the show can end with me happy.
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What's wrong with Andy? What's wrong with Andy is that Ed Helms is terribly unfunny and grating.
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