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TV RECAP: ‘The Office: Sex Ed’

October 15, 2010

Of all the characters in The Office who’d seem prime candidates for an STD, I’d say Creed and Meredith probably top the list. Michael, albeit hopelessly naïve, seems to gravitate toward women more mentally, rather than physically, questionable.

So when he shows up with a cold sore and the rest of the office immediately leaps to the conclusion that it’s the result of herpes, it’s kind of odd. Nevertheless, his condition goes mostly ignored by the rest of the gang save Dwight, who takes it upon himself to oversee Michael’s informing his past exes about his new (though undiagnosed) STD.

First on the list is the love of Michael’s life, Holly, who’s since gone on to a more rational plane, still seeing her current boyfriend AJ and noting that Michael over-romanticized their time together. A bit at a loss for words, he hangs up without delivering the news and moves on to the next, Donna, the bar manager who would be the most likely candidate (if, in fact, Michael actually has an STD). But the call consists of little more than a quick, “Get tested,” before Michael moves on to meet up with Carol the real-estate agent (played by Steve Carell’s real-life wife Nancy) and Pam’s mother Helene.

Back at the office, Andy decides to host a Sex-Ed/Pizza Jamboree, which devolves into a flimsy list of the good and bad aspects of sex (“Looks cool” is by far the best of the “good”), but it quickly becomes clear that the session is a guise through which Andy hopes to discover whether Gabe and his old flame Erin have or have had sex.

Michael’s meetings go as awkward as can be expected, with him mistaking a much older woman for Helene (ha?) and being more concerned with Holly’s point about his delusions. The episode then becomes a reflection on Michael’s relationships (and we finally get to see the incomparable Melora Hardin return as Jan, who seems to be doing very well for herself), as he asks each one to reassess their relationship, which only seems to confirm what Holly said.

Andy’s seminar continues to fizzle out until he reaches a boiling point of frustration and slams one of the pizza boxes into a wall. Gabe calls him into the office to remind Andy that he did indeed have his blessing to ask Erin out, which leaves poor Mr. Bernard with no option other than to cry…in front of a weirded-out Darrel.

Michael returns to his office to try again with Holly, and, in a rare moment of maturity and getting the answering machine, pours out his feelings for her, noting that while he may have glossed the memories of his other exes, she was the only one he was genuinely happy to talk to again and didn’t embellish anything about what they had. And then he tells her to get tested for herpes.

The episode ends with the final…uh…”ex”: Oscar, whom Michael only kissed, but hey, you can never be too cautious with herpes.

Not too many funny moments, I have the feeling this installment was another in the season’s plot-arc leading up to Carell’s departure. It’s only the fourth episode of the season, but I suspect the finale’s going to see Michael getting back with his beloved Holly, as she’s been brought up more than a few times and the bulk of Michael’s storyline kept pressing his affection for her. Andy’s similar quest to regain Erin was a little funnier but ended on too much of a morose note. It all felt too serious.


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One Response to “ TV RECAP: ‘The Office: Sex Ed’ ”

  1. Allyson on October 16, 2010 at 4:42 am

    As a sufferer of herpes, I thought it was a great episode. It’s the first time I’ve EVER seen the media portray herpes in a compassionate and realistic light, rather than making it sound like it’s only something lepers get. They managed to do this while injecting several laugh-out-loud moments into the show. I contracted HSV-2 USING A CONDOM with my second partner at the age of 22, who had no idea he had herpes and had never had any visible symptoms. I was his second partner as well. I’m now 26 and haven’t had an outbreak since I was 23. Most people with the disease don’t know they have it, as only 10% get visible symptoms. A lot of times visual symptoms of HSV are so innocuous that they can be mistaken for a razor bump or a pimple. Also, doctors don’t include HSV (herpes simplex virus) in the “full” panel of std tests during your annual, unless you specifically ask for it. Most of society looks down on people with herpes and it’s so amazingly common. It’s time the judgment stops. Kudos, Office, on both an educational and entertaining show that brought a silent epidemic into the spotlight. I’m so glad they did the show in a kind way, rather than ostracize herpes sufferers like myself from society even more.