The Office Conflict That Has Fans Looking Twice At Dwight
Dwight Kurt Schrute has shown himself to be, at various points, both terribly misguided and an unexpected voice of reason. More often than you might expect, the eccentric beet farmer and assistant to the regional manager played by Rainn Wilson on NBC’s classic sitcom “The Office” is actually worth listening to. Consider the fact that whenever he’s about to do something, Dwight asks himself, “Would an idiot do that?” If they would, he does not do that thing. Imagine if everyone lived by that advice.
Dwight also demonstrates a keen acumen for problem-solving and critical thinking that proves indispensable in the workplace. At one point, he brings his spud gun (which can shoot potatoes at 60 pounds per square inch, by the way) into work in a duffel bag, just to test the office park’s security. Who else would take that initiative? Plus, he’s all about loyalty. It’s so important to him, in fact, that Dwight would leave his current company to go wherever they valued (as in paid) loyalty the highest. Don’t think about that one too hard.
By all accounts, Dwight is a force to be reckoned with and an asset to be paid attention to. But the people around Dwight don’t regard him this way very often — or at all, really. Dwight isn’t actually treated fairly in many instances. His boss and idol Michael Scott (Steve Carell) repeatedly spurns him, both in terms of friendship and well-deserved promotions. Consider Michael’s Rolodex entry on Dwight: “Tall. Beets.” Might Dwight, the resident weirdo of “The Office,” be underappreciated?
There are many signs that point to this being true, but something that happens during “The Office” Season 2 really drives this point home. Here’s the “Office” conflict that has fans looking twice at Dwight.
Dwight deserved better from Dunder Mifflin
It’s entertaining to watch Dwight oscillate between oblivious incompetence and frustration and genuine dominance where he uses his intelligence to command a situation and the people in it. Over time, however, it’s hard not to notice how often Dwight is met with dismissiveness and even full-on antagonism no matter how he behaves. That’s not to say he doesn’t sometimes instigate problems himself. The incessant prank war between Dwight and Jim Halpert (John Krasinski), the time Dwight put the entire office in real danger to prove a point about being prepared in the event of a fire, the verbal jabs he throws at his fellow Dunder Mifflin employees — that’s just the tip of the iceberg. But the issue is that Dwight isn’t always to blame, and when he feels uncomfortable at work and turns to his company for help, he is, at best, laughed at. At worst, he’s ignored.
One of the worst failures of respect towards Dwight comes from — surprise, surprise — Toby Flenderson (Paul Lieberstein) in the Season 2 episode “Conflict Resolution.” The episode sees Dwight taking to Toby, the human resources manager of Dunder Mifflin’s Scranton branch, very legitimate claims about Jim. It’s Toby’s job to hear Dwight out, address his concerns appropriately, and resolve the conflict between Dwight and Jim. Unfortunately, Toby neglects him, sticking all of Dwight’s complaints in a box rather than taking them seriously.
Reddit user u/ktalb pointed out that Toby’s actions almost certainly constitute violation of procedure, and outside of a professional context, it’s just a jerk move. “As amazing as the jokes in this episode are, I can’t help but feel so upset for Dwight. Toby failed everyone in this [episode] but especially Dwight as his HR rep by not reporting Dwights complaints about Jim,” the Redditor wrote. “Whether Toby thought Dwight was overreacting or not, he should’ve at least taken Dwight’s complaints seriously as his HR rep instead of just packing all of them away in a box. It’s literally his job. Dwight had every right to be extremely upset and demand something drastic be done.”
Dwight is visibly distressed by Jim’s actions. He doesn’t find Jim’s antics funny, nor are they just silly pranks between friends at this point in the series. Jim’s behavior messes with Dwight’s sense of his own sanity, his emotions, and his ability to do his job. At one point, Jim even tricks him into going into the women’s restroom. This adds up to a textbook hostile work environment, but the dispassionate Toby never lifts a finger to do what he is literally paid to do. Fans of “The Office” are now looking back on the episode and feeling sympathy for Dwight, seeing him as a complicated character who deserved some kindness here.