'The Office' Writers Were 'Hesitant' About 'Tender' Endings, But 1 Director Insisted on This Sweet Moment

The Office writers tried not to go the route of “tender” endings too often, but one of the episode’s directors pushed for a sweet way to wrap up the episode “Local Ad” in season 4. Find out why it was so important to him to end the episode with a touching moment.

‘The Office’ episode revolves around a commercial

In The Office season 4 episode titled “Local Ad,” boss Michael Scott is told that each branch of Dunder Mifflin will have its own local commercial. Michael wants to go big with the ad and has some over-the-top ideas but is told that it’s the same ad for every branch except for the last five seconds, where the employees wave to the camera.

Michael gets permission from the corporate office to produce an alternative version himself. He gives Pam the task of creating an animated logo and Phyllis is told to secure a celebrity for the ad. Darryl and some of the employees write a jingle but Michael doesn’t like it. Corporate ends up rejecting Michael’s ad.

At the end of the episode, the co-workers hang out at the bar Poor Richard’s Pub to watch the corporate commercial with their five seconds of waving. Jim has the bar play Michael’s version of their ad and it’s clear they all enjoyed the process of making it together.

The director insisted on this ‘tender’ ending

Director Jason Reitman knew that he wanted the characters to share this moment in the bar together, even if The Office writers didn’t initially warm up to the idea.

During the Feb. 17 episode of the Office Ladies podcast, hosts Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey discussed the episode and got some insight from Reitman about directing it.

“There was an opportunity for a tender ending,” Reitman said. “And I got the sense that the writing staff of The Office was hesitant to do too many of those, that there’s this kind of traditional television episode where it’s funny throughout, is has opportunity for satire, and then towards the end, you have some sort of tender denouement, and that they didn’t want to be doing this every time.”

He continued, “But I really wanted that for this spot. I really wanted the episode to end in a bar where the cast is watching the commercial together and they bond over it.”

It was the perfect ending

Reitman compared it to the idea of doing a high school play together where everyone collaborates on it and celebrates the result of their efforts. “And there’s something really lovely about people who come together to make something,” he explained. “That was really important to me, because that’s an idea I know really well. Anyone who’s ever done a high school play or made a high school video or done anything creative knows what it feels like when outsiders come together to make something.”

“And no matter how it turns out, the collective process of creating something is just wonderful and bonds you and erases fights because you can’t help it but come together and make something,” he added.

Reitman wanted the characters to have that moment and it definitely worked for the episode. “And it has a slightly emotional ending,” Reitman added. “And I’m really proud and I’m really grateful that the writing staff was up for that at the end of the day, because it makes me cherish the episode even more.”

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