As much as I don’t want to admit it, many of Jim’s pranks on Dwight are actually kind of mean. I’m not talking about pranks like the stapler in Jell-O, but I am talking about pranks like the one involving the purse girl.
After Dwight shares with Jim that he likes the purse girl, Jim encourages him to go talk to her. He does this not to be a good friend but because he knows he’ll alienate her by talking about strange things like the origins of his last name.
What Jim does next is truly what makes this a mean prank. He stands next to Pam and starts mocking Dwight talking to the purse girl. Pam is equally mean. “It’s so sad,” she says as she catches her breath from laughing.
(If you’re wondering if Pam is a horrible person, check out my post, Is Pam Beesly a Good Model?)
The Morality of Comedy
In some sense I think it’s counterintuitive to analyze the morality of characters in a comedy because it’s not meant to be taken seriously.
However, people all over the internet are bashing Pam, my sister hates Jim and my husband squirms every time Michael open his mouth. It seems it’s not fruitless to talk about morality in The Office because it’s apparent that people do care.
While most people are quick to point out the immorality of racist and sexist comments in The Office, they may overlook one of the more subtle morality issues in the show: Jim’s constant pranking of Dwight.
Types of Pranks
It’s April Fool’s day and you want to prank your brother by rearranging the bags of cereal into different boxes. Your intent isn’t to laugh at him but with him because you love him.
I don’t think this is Jim’s intent with many of his pranks. In early seasons, it’s clear that Jim doesn’t love Dwight or even respect him. In fact, he is annoyed by his eccentricities and is kind of cocky about how normal he is compared to Dwight.
Not only are Jim’s pranks sometimes mean, but they distract him from more important things in life. Read my post, One Major Reason for Jim and Pam’s Fight, for more details.
Big Brother and Little Brother
The dynamic between Jim and Dwight reminds me of the relationship between a big brother and a little brother. The big brother (Jim) is always picking on his little brother (Dwight).
While this dynamic is apparent throughout all seasons, I first noticed it in Season 9 when Dwight was distraught that Jim left the Christmas party early. Dwight wanted to break the pig rib with Jim like he did with his brother growing up.
Also, I recently realized that Jim’s older brothers probably pranked him as a kid considering how “pranky” they are whenever they’re in an episode.
I bet Jim was really excited when he first met Dwight and realized he could prank – it would finally be his opportunity to be the older brother.
Jim Gradually Comes to Love Dwight
The Dwight Christmas episode is also when I noticed Jim and Pam coming to like Dwight and enjoy him in a more loving way than a mocking way. For example, they are genuinely ecstatic when they manage to get Dwight’s Pennsylvania Dutch Christmas approved by the Party Planning Committee.
At this point, it almost seems like they’ve joined the fandom of Dwight-loving Office fans. These people love Dwight, and if you love someone, it sometimes is permissible to find them amusing when they’re not trying to be. I mean people love their kids but they sure find them amusing sometimes.
My Favorite Jim Pranks
- Inventing absurd medical conditions when Dwight is trying to choose a healthcare plan
- Convincing Dwight to hide in a box in the warehouse to eavesdrop on a supposed secret meeting
- Giving Dwight public speaking tips but not telling him they’re from dictators
- Pretending he has telekinetic powers
- Sending Dwight faxes from “Future Dwight”
- Pretending he is turning into a vampire
- Convincing Dwight that the Dunder Mifflin website has become self-aware
- Putting 500 feet of wire between Dwight’s computer and a telephone pole just to watch him follow it
- Convincing Dwight to fight himself during his karate demonstration since he’s his only worthy opponent
- Learning Morse code with Pam so they can tell him crazy things in Morse code and claim they don’t have time to learn Morse code
- Convincing Dwight to trade him his telescope for Jim’s “miracle legumes”
- Writing a book on how to throw a garden party and selling it to Dwight online using a pseudonym
- Using an actor friend to convince Dwight that Jim has always been Asian and Dwight just didn’t notice
Are my Morals Being Corrupted?
I enjoy all Jim’s pranks – mean ones included. In fact, I wouldn’t enjoy Dwight half as much if Jim didn’t contrive situations to expose Dwight’s eccentricities. I love Dwight’s eccentricities – like how he takes everything so seriously.
I’m not going to defend my enjoyment of Jim’s mean pranks. I’m willing to admit I find inappropriate things funny. For example, I tolerate Michael Scott more than most, and I outline my reasons in this post: Why do People Like Michael Scott?
While I’m not proud of my twisted sense of humor, I’m sure thankful for it because it allows me to let loose a bit from the overdramatic way I usually view life.
Also, I’m not worried that my morals are being corrupted. It’s not like I’ll eventually start laughing mockingly at unintentionally eccentric people.
What About Kids Watching The Office?
While I might have the moral discernment to know that some of Jim’s pranks would not be good for real life, do young Office fans have this discernment? If your kid is in elementary school, maybe not. However, if your kid is a middle schooler or older, they’re probably wise enough not to blindly emulate everything they see on TV.
Also, middle schoolers are strong enough to punch out of a box if their classmate traps them in one, so there’s no chance of a poor kid getting stuck in a box for days.
These are the kind of things I think about when I consider whether I’d let my future kids watch The Office. I definitely want them to be huge fans of the show, but I might have to fast forward through some of Jim’s pranks. I’m actually less worried about the sexual innuendos.
What are Your Thoughts?
If you have some thoughts about Jim’s pranks on Dwight, please share them in the comments below!
5 thoughts on “Are Jim’s Pranks Mean?”
I get what you’re saying. Some pranks his pranks are funny. The passive aggressiveness comes out when he purposely ruffles Dwight’s feathers. I look at it as a way to (passively) let him know he is a jerk, but doesn’t realize it.
The snow ball fight was a way for Dwight to unleash the pent up anger and frustration that had built up; finally getting even. As time healed all malfeasance, they did ( rather the writers) come together in a tight knit , and respectfully loving bond
Yeah, it’s hard to feel sorry for someone who does so many crazy things himself.