Thanks for the great responses to my Potsie Syndrome Post, including this very comprehensive message board discussion. By the way, comments still aren’t available even on this new format, but I’m told they may be available by the end of next week, or maybe the week after, or… yeesh. We at Maclean’s are starting to think The IT Crowd is secretly working somewhere in the building.
Last night on 30 Rock Pete once again proved his Potsie-ness — in fact, I was in the Powder Room ™ during his only appearance, so I originally thought he wasn’t in the episode at all — and Jenna, by once again not being in the episode, reminded us all that she has lost a lot of her original function too. (Jenna was originally written for Tina Fey’s friend Rachel Dratch, and her relationship with Liz was to mirror Fey and Dratch’s real-life relationship. Dratch was replaced with Jane Krakowski, and the character doesn’t seem to get much to do unless Liz needs to talk about her love life, since every other discussion is funnier if she has it with Jack, rather than Jenna or Pete.)
But I was also reminded that Ryan on The Office was supposed to be more important than he is. I mean, he’s in the opening credits, but even before his move to New York and the lure of the demon white powder (or whatever he’s taking), he became less important than several of the characters who aren’t in the opening credits and were only bit players in the pilot. It’s not so much that one particular character took his spot, as that as the show gave distinct characterizations to every person in that office, he became one of many office people rather than a character of the importance of Dwight/Jim/Pam.
Of course, since B.J. Novak is a writer/producer for the show, some of the usual problems of Potsiedom are avoided, in that there’s always a job for him on the show even if he’s not acting in a particular episode, and the show has therefore been free to downplay his role (or leave him out of some episodes) without the controversy that usually attends such things. Novak actually wrote last week’s episode even though he didn’t appear in it, so if he’s OK with writing himself out, why shouldn’t we be?