Aired: BBC, 2001-2002
Early in the 2000s, the buzz began moving west across the Atlantic: There was this quirky and very funny faux-documentary comedy series out of England called The Office. It starred a guy named Ricky Gervais, whom no one knew. Soon, we would learn, he had a writing partner, Stephen Merchant, whom Gervais had met while both were working at BBC Radio. On The Office, Gervais was David Brent, a mid-level office manager and benign menace who wants to be both boss and comedian. In the process he is highly and, as it happens, hilariously un-self-aware when it comes to both. As much as American TV comedy has been influenced by iconic shows out of England (e.g. Monty Python and Fawlty Towers) Gervais was taking a creative cue from the mock-documentarian Christopher Guest in his deadpan approach. This style worked but the way the characters were drawn, and portrayed, worked even better.
*Non-WGA determined credit