The Curious Case of Andy Bernard

My first post will be on Andy Bernard, the character from the US Office, played by Hangover star Ed Helms. I recently finished re watching the entirety of the show. And what a show it is. But when you watch the entire series in quite quick succession you notice a few things you didn’t the first time round. I became more and more fascinated with the mishandling of Andy Bernard’s character. Fulfilling the Michael Scott role once Steve Carrell left proved to be the beginning of the end for a previously entertaining character.

When we were first introduced to the character, he was a slightly irritating (in a good viewable way) salesman at the Dunder Mifflin Stamford branch, a very proud ex-Cornell graduate. He was a hateable character and quickly became more so once the merger happened and we saw the true nature of his kiss-assery (?) – mimicking Michael’s actions and being the “yes – man”. He was painted as the villain of the season (if that’s possible) right up until he went to anger-management training. When he returned, he was a more-likeable but useless salesman whose love interest with Angela prompted some of the more entertaining parts of the Season. In this secondary role he was engaging and entertaining and viewers warmed to the character. I really liked Andy right up until he became manager.

The character was entertaining in a supporting role but he did not have enough of a character to take on the lead role. Admittedly the final couple of series became much more of an ensemble piece but he was still the Michael Scott equivalent. The problem was he wasn’t Michael Scott. As characters go, Michael Scott had more than enough mileage in him to carry the show even when the episode was waning (I wasn’t a huge fan of the co-manager story arc but Michael kept it entertaining), he was created as the leading character. Andy was not and this quickly showed in season 8. I always felt from then, the character was mishandled. They tried to put him into Michael Scott situations and expect an equally amusing outcome. Unfortunately this was not the case, it did not make sense with the character we had been presented with for 4 seasons. He was presented as being as stupid as Michael but considerably less likeable. The show needed to create new situations in order to get the most out of a character that was promoted above it’s place (both in reality and in the fictional world of the show). I just about managed to get through season 8 and, despite the implausibility of it, enjoyed his reinstatement as Office manager at the end of the season. Season 9, however, was to be the nail in the coffin.

Why the hell did go off on the boat? It made no sense given his absolute love of Erin. It also made no sense given he only just regained his position as manager. The entire Andy storyline was awful. That might seem quite strong but I could not bear the character, at all. The “bad-actor” cliché was overused and when he went off to be on America’s Next Acappella sensation; it was too much and I zoned out for his parts of the episode. After all he did that series, after he returned and basically became the antagonist of the show, I was relieved he broke down on television. His return in the final was sombre and mellow and seemed to have lost all remnants of his former self. I didn’t mind this to be honest, it made sense given what had happened to him; but the final season just butchered the character. I enjoyed the episodes he was away for, though I don’t think he ever should have left, considerably more and A.A.R.M, whilst being the best episode of the season as it brought back “goofy Jim”, was undermined by his sub-plot.

Andy Bernard was a good character until season 8; it’s like he says in the finale “I wish you knew you were in the good old days before you left them.”

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