Erin and Andy are walking through the dump searching for the sales leads Michael lost when Andy comments that it’s chilly. Without hesitation, Erin gives him her jacket.
“You’re the nicest person I ever met,” says Andy Bernard.
While it would be fun to spend a day with Dwight Schrute in a manure field, his utilitarian mindset might be intolerable after a few days.
Being friends with Michael Scott would be fun for a while until he got too clingy or shared your secrets with everyone.
Erin Hannon, however, would make a great friend. I could hang out with her every week and feel loved and appreciated. This is because Erin is one of the nicest characters in The Office.
Despite her tragic past, she has a cheery personality and a compassionate heart. To be fair, her naivety contributes to her cheerfulness, but it is still admirable to be resilient enough to emerge from a childhood of rejection without letting bitterness spill into your interactions.
I could list all the reasons that Erin would make a great friend, but this is The Finer Things Club Blog, so I will choose a more sophisticated topic. I will list the aspects of this character that align with the archetype known as “The Innocent” – an archetype I would definitely want to be friends with.
3 Reasons Erin Hannon Fits the Archetype of “The Innocent”
1. She is Caring
While Erin isn’t perfect, she is a lot less self-interested than a lot of the other characters. She consistently puts other’s needs ahead of her own, and you can tell it’s often from genuine kindness rather than wanting to be liked.
For example, Erin gets really excited when Dwight tells Oscar and Stanley about the Minority Executive Training Program.
“I wasn’t talking to you,” says Dwight to Erin.
“I know. I meant I’d be happy for them.”
Erin is similarly excited when Dwight finally becomes Manager. She literally goes crazy, pumping her fist, screaming and running to congratulate him. I have never seen more genuine excitement for something unrelated to oneself or one’s kin.
2. She Speaks Kind Words
When Michael laments over ruining lives with the Scott’s Tots debacle, Erin tries to cheer him up. While it’s easy to cheer up someone who deserves it, it requires true kindness to cheer up someone who truly is to blame for their own sorrow.
Erin is also very kind to Kevin when she goes on a date with him arranged by Michael. While she isn’t attracted to Kevin, she treats him with respect during the date rather than acting aloof. She is also very kind when telling him she’s not interested in dating him.
3. She is Forgiving
When Erin’s birth parents ask for her forgiveness, she immediately forgives them. When Nelly asks for help with an adoption application, Erin is quick to provide guidance even though Nelly fairly recently hurt her boyfriend, Andy, by stealing his job and demeaning him.
Finally, when Michael finally wins Holly back on the roof of an office building, a smile crosses Erin’s face. Erin was initially wary of Holly because she saw how much she was hurting Michael by rejecting him. While many kids of single dads are uneasy when their dad starts dating someone new, Erin (who sees Michael as a father figure) is able to move past this uneasiness.
4. She is Childlike
Being childlike is another character trait of the “The Innocent.” Perhaps the best example of Erin’s naivety is when Dwight is able to convince her that there was a major battle in the Civil War called “The Battle of Schrute Farm.”
Why would I want to be friends with this archetype if they are so naïve? Well, I like people who are open-minded and don’t make assumptions without considering different perspectives.
While Erin is intrigued by Dwight’s story, she is not so fooled that she’s not able to entertain Oscar’s perspective as well. Even though she only entertains Oscar’s perspective for a brief moment before deciding to believe Dwight, that’s more than I can say for a lot of people.
In today’s society, people choose their camps before taking the time to listen to a level-headed voice from the other side. They just listen to the extremists from the other camp because those are the loudest voices and easiest to access.
All soap-boxing aside, I essentially want to say that a teensy bit of childlike wonder is essential and keeps us humble.
Every Comedy Needs an “Innocent”
While “The Innocent” archetype may not be appropriate for every genre, it’s especially effective in comedy. It’s not surprising that the writers decided to include a character like Erin – she contributes to the shenanigans without being insensitive, like Michael, or dehumanizing, like Dwight.
Instead she is a likable type of funny, and she pulls at your heart strings. I would totally adopt Erin if I lived in The Office universe and she was an adoptable age.
Which Office character would you most like as a friend? Comment below.