Why Pam and Jim Are Not Your #RelationshipGoals

The American adaptation of The Office is one of those comforting sitcoms we rewatch ad infinitum. Unlike its curmudgeonly British sibling, America’s Office had an almost quixotic quality. From the kicky theme song to the wholesome pranks Jim plays on Dwight (Putting a colleague’s stapler in jello is a pretty harmless gag), the whole show reeks of optimism.

The Office makes you feel like as long as Dunder Mifflin sells enough paper to meet its quarterly sales targets, the world will keep on spinning! But as uplifting as the show is, it’s also kind of f-cked up (that’s the technical term). Obviously, it’s problematic that Michael Scott (Steve Carell) was played as a loveable oaf, when he was actually a misogynistic and casually racist boss. Is it funny to have a bigotted – and incompetent white guy – in a position of power? Perhaps it was in 2005, when the show premiered, but not in 2021. However, as upsetting as Michael Scott may be, this week’s Hold Up is all about Pam and Jim. Behind Ross and Rachel, they may just be the most toxic sitcom couple of the last thirty years!

Don’t believe me that Pam and Jim are a no-good, very bad, horrible example of television romance? Well, I’ve prepared an itemized list, which I hope will soon have you convinced (Yes, that rhymed. Rhyming is one of my favourite literary devices. Just go with it, okay?).


Jim Looks Cute, But Acts Creepy

Does John Krasinski possess all the boy-next door cuteness of your high school crush? Absolutely! His non-threatening male sexuality is super appealing.The best way I can think to describe Jim is that he’s what would happen if Jimmy Stewart and apple pie had a baby! But just because someone looks sweet, that doesn’t mean they are!

Jim is a “nice guy.” You know, the kind you meet on Tinder who insists hot girls owe him dates because he’s not a jerk (Question: Doesn’t feeling entitled to women’s time kind of make you a jerk?). But if Jim is such a nice guy, why is he constantly violating Pam’s boundaries in the early seasons? Sure, Roy, Pam’s fiance of approximately fifteen years, is kind of a dick. But that’s for HER to decide. That Jim is constantly pointing out Roy’s misogynist dickery is patrionising an paternalistic. In fact, it kind of makes Jim a dick, too.

And what happens when the tables are turned, with Pam single and Jim happily dating Karen? Well, Pam, for the most part, is pretty polite to Karen and doesn’t interfere with their relationship. All she tells Jim is she misses their friendship, which probably confuses Jim, because Pam was never truly his “friend,” but a female whose body he coveted. Is there ANYTHING creepier than a straight dude who pretends to value a woman’s friendship because he wants to sleep with her? Nope! Jim is the creepiest cute guy since 90210’s David Silver (I could write a veritable thesis paper on David Silver’s creepiness)…


They’re Such a Codependent Couple!

Not to be judgemental, but Pam and Jim don’t need each other; they need therapy. I have never met such a codependent couple IRL, and I resent The Office for making this relationship style feel aspirational. I mean, is it really cute to spend all day on a bluetooth with your partner when you’re working at separate offices? Can’t you just send each other cute texts occasionally? Do you really need to hear the humming of their office photocopier in the background to feel connected? Don’t you ever want to take a break and socialize with your colleagues? Is it even healthy for a romantic partner to know every single thing you do in a day? Honestly, Pam and Jim’s relationship sounds kind of like dating the NSA…


Jim Is Not The Least Bit Supportive of Pam’s Artistic Ambitions 

In Season 5, Pam relocates to NYC for art school. Given that being an artist is her life-long dream, one would assume a supportive partner would be psyched! Scranton isn’t even that long a drive from Manhattan (I know because I looked it up!). And yet, when Pam abandons her program part-way through, Jim doesn’t bother to figure out why. He doesn’t ask if there’s any way he could provide the support she needs to succeed. He just…watches the woman he “loves” abandon her dreams with a smile; he’s stoked that the decision delivers Pam back to their life in Scranton, where Pam can spend the rest of her life hawking office supplies she doesn’t give a damn about. #RelationshipGoals


Their Relationship Is Pretty Patriarchal

When Jim self-actualizes by opening a startup in Philadelphia, she supports her man and moves to another city with their kids, sans job. Pam is happy to help her husband because she loves him, but um, where was all this unconditional love and support when she was studying art in New York? Couldn’t Jim have found a way to move to NYC to be there for his fiance during art school? I have no problem with couples who make sacrifices for each other’s dreams, but there’s got to be some reciprocity! The double standard is egregious.


Who The F-ck Buys Someone a House Without Asking? 

Buying a house is one of the most serious financial decisions a person can make. I know, because I own a home, and I’ve promised a bank to spend the next twenty-five years paying for it. A mortgage is a life-altering financial obligation, and it probably shouldn’t be swung on a person without their consent. However, in Season Five, Jim does just that! He “surprises” Pam by purchasing her a house (His parents’ house, to be exact). At no point is Pam consulted about whether she’s ready to purchase a home at all, or what kind of place she’d like to live in (Maybe she’d have preferred a condo). Most homeowners have opinions on things like neighbourhoods, square footage, and central air conditioning. But paternalistic Jim deprives Pam of those choices, imposes a house on her, and calls it romance.

Jim, I HATE you.

Sarah Sahagian

Sarah Sahagian

Sarah Sahagian is a feminist writer based in Toronto. Her byline has appeared in such publications as Elle Canada, Flare, Bitch Media, The Toronto Star, and The National Post. She is also the co-host of You Do You: A Dating Podcast. Sarah holds a master’s degree in Gender Studies from The London School of Economics. You can find her on Twitter, where she posts about politics and live-tweets The Bachelor