The Office spinoff The Farm about Dwight would thrive today

THE OFFICE -- "Couples Discount" Episode 916 -- Pictured: (l-r) Phyllis Smith as Phyllis Vance, Rainn Wilson as Dwight Schrute -- (Photo by: Byron Cohen/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THE OFFICE -- "Couples Discount" Episode 916 -- Pictured: (l-r) Phyllis Smith as Phyllis Vance, Rainn Wilson as Dwight Schrute -- (Photo by: Byron Cohen/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images) /

The Farm, which was given a mid-season pilot episode during the final season of The Office, would be a hit today.

After nine incredible seasons… Well, seven incredible seasons and two simply good ones, The Office was set to wrap its final season. In a last-ditch effort to keep things going, producers put together an in-season pilot for “The Farm,” a Dwight Schrute family spin-off.  It was not well-received.

The Farm was set to follow Dwight and his two siblings, Fannie and Jeb, and the wide array of wild cousins, Mose included, who would help run the (newly expanded) beet farm after his aunt Shirley’s passing. The pilot wasn’t picked up, and as a whole, the episode quickly became a forgettable footnote. If it was pitched today, it might have received a warmer reception.

We should start at the beginning – how was this pitched and why? If you aren’t on your umpteenth rewatch of the series, it’s likely you may not even remember the episode. Season 9, episode 17, titled “The Farm” was supposed to be the successor to The Office. Written and directed by hopeful showrunner Paul Lieberstein (Toby), the overall reception was very negative. It came at a time, though, when we weren’t asking for it. Office fans didn’t want Dwight in this hybrid farm/office world, they were simply waiting for the bow to be placed on their favorite series.

Why The Farm should have happened

The Office was coming to an end. Storylines were being wrapped up, friendships, office romances and marriages were reaching crescendo and we were suddenly watching Dwight’s nephew learn how to milk a goat. The pilot episode felt misplaced, despite the hilarious B-plot featuring Todd Packer-laced cupcakes.

Triumph Books editor and Office superfan Michelle Bruton‘s thoughts on this sum up what we all felt at the time:

"The thing about The Farm that may have doomed it from the start in 2013 was that they baked it into a regular-season episode of The Office. While we can all agree that season was The Worst, it was still The Office, and holding your viewers hostage while you force them to watch a test pilot for a new show is never a smart idea. (See also: the Winward Circle pilot with Jess in Venice Beach baked into Season 3 of Gilmore Girls, which also did not get picked up.) The other problem with The Farm when it was happening in real time was that, by then, we had all realized that The Office was Dwight’s show all along. Jim was not the protagonist or romantic hero of the show; Dwight was, and everything in the show was pushing toward a conclusion where he ended up with Angela. The Farm would have thrown all that off."

Perhaps the biggest oversight in pitching The Farm during the final season was the issues it caused with the storyline. As Michelle pointed out, The Office was always a show about Dwight Schrute. Think about all of your favorite scenes, all of the funniest, most memorable moments. Who is involved? Is it Michael and Dwight or Jim and Dwight? Or perhaps it Dwight and the rest of the office. This was, and always will be, Dwight’s story. Changing that story so drastically for the spin-off was a mistake that alone could have derailed this pilot.

Dwight, who was very clearly always meant to end up with Angela, was involved in a romantic arc with Esther (the tractor girl) in “The Farm.” How would they explain this if the series was picked up? Would they kill off Angela? Also, how was Dwight going to run Dunder Mifflin as well as an expanded farm? Would he just quit the position he worked his entire professional life to obtain? Doesn’t seem like him at all.

There’s also the story that if The Farm was picked up, Rainn Wilson would have left The Office mid-season, which would have been an absolute disaster in regards to the ending of the show.

The logistics just didn’t make sense at the time. If The Farm was pitched today, the showrunners would have the ability to weave in a plausible backstory. So much could have happened between the end of the original series and now and there are countless ways to tie the story together.

Perhaps Dwight burned the office down in a failed attempt to demonstrate a new safety protocol. Maybe Angela started a party planning business in a faraway city, or a cat orphanage, or, hell, maybe they work her into the plot like they should have in the first place. Honestly, at this point, I don’t even think we’d care how he got there.

Since The Office wrapped, it’s viewership has been nothing short of cult-like. Those who still watch the show watch it on repeat, looping from the end of season 9 right back to the beginning of season 1, quoting it to friends, whether they’ve seen the series or not. It has become the ultimate comfort show. It’s timeless. The producers of the show actually made sure to stay away from using too many references so the show would hold up over time, and as someone who’s on their eighth re-watch, I can confirm that this worked.

Every year or so, the cast gets together for a dinner or a party, which fuels reunion talks, “what-ifs,” and sends the fandom into a debate about whether or not the show should be left as-is. No one truly expected the show to be as popular today as it was when it aired and the thought of a reunion or a one-off special gets fans excited no matter what the context (One last Dundies, Michael’s wedding, Stanely’s funeral, there are too many options). This is where The Farm would thrive.

If the show was pitched today, rabid Office fans would absolutely eat it up. Michelle also explained this perfectly, from a fan’s perspective in today’s Office-less world:

"We’re talking about whether The Farm would be successful if it were pitched today, and that’s a different question altogether. My answer to all of your questions is “yes;” Yes, I would welcome the show. Yes, it would be pandering. Yes, it would ruin a perfect thing. Yes, it could be a platform for fun guest cameos. And yes, if it aired today, I would watch the s–t out of it. We all know that reboots and sequels ruin the shows we held dear. I still haven’t recovered from Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. (Sorry I keep bringing this back to Gilmore Girls.) The honest truth is that I have watched every episode of The Office about 10 times. I quote every single one of them. I need something new to put on while I cook dinner or do laundry, and The Farm would have served that purpose beautifully. It’s a shame we’ll never know."

Would it be good? Probably not. Would we watch it? Most definitely. The Farm might bastardize what we know and love about Dwight’s perfect Office ending, but honestly, it would be more than welcomed. There’s a reason we’re all on some level of re-watch with this show, a reason we list the Christmas episodes every December or continue to use the same Office scenes exclusively as reaction gifs. The Office is a phenomenon and I don’t think any variation of a spin-off at this point would be rejected.

It absolutely sucks that one of the best quotes of The Office came from Andy Bernard, but he wasn’t wrong: “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.”

While “The Farm” was an objectively bad episode, it was a bad episode of a show we loved so much. I, like many, would take 13 of those bad episodes a year for the next five years in a heartbeat. We were nearing the end of the good old days and it’s a shame that the only real attempted spin-off came smack dab in the middle of them.

Most popular Michael Scott quotes from The Office. light. Trending

Whether you want to admit it or not, The Farm would be successful if it was pitched today. If not for its story-telling, for the mindless viewing and background laughs many of us have used The Office for since its wrap in 2013.

Consider this me tossing out a few crow’s beaks, it’s not too late for someone to break them.