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"Casual Friday" is the twenty-sixth episode of the fifth season of The Office, and the 98th episode overall. It was written by Anthony Farrell and directed by Brent Forrester. It first aired on April 30, 2009. It was viewed by 7.31 million people.

Cold open

Kevin explains that once a year he brings a pot of his famous chili into the office. As he narrates how it is a secret family recipe that he spent all night making, he is shown dropping the pot of chili on the floor. Kevin then tries in futile to scoop the chili back into the pot, inadvertently slipping and covering himself in the chili.

Synopsis

Michael Scott has returned to his old job as regional manager of the Dunder Mifflin Scranton branch and announces that Pam and Ryan have joined the sales team, retaining their old clients from the Michael Scott Paper Company. Dwight, Andy, Phyllis and Stanley are upset because most of those clients were ones Michael previously stole from them. They are also upset that Michael treats Pam and Ryan with more respect because they were the only people to follow him to his new company, with Michael believing his company operates within the branch despite the buyout. Dwight calls a secret meeting in the warehouse with the salespeople, minus Pam and Ryan, to think of a way to get their clients back.

Jim, trying to remain impartial, informs Michael of the potential mutiny and heads to the break room to play chess with Creed until the conflict is resolved. Things take a turn for the worse when Dwight interrupts a sales call with Ryan, causing him to lose the client. Michael steps in and demands an apology, but Dwight, Andy, Phyllis and Stanley threaten to quit and start their own paper company. When Michael calls their bluff, Phyllis breaks down and says that they were the real victims of Michael's company, not corporate, and that they were hurt since Michael had treated them like a family and then turned on them. Michael is taken aback by her words.

Meanwhile, it is Casual Friday and most people dress too loosely at the office. Angela complains to Toby about Oscar wearing sandals to work and having to look at his feet. Meredith disgusts the rest of the employees by wearing a very short dress without any panties or a bra, thus exposing herself to the rest of the office as she tries to adjust it to meet Toby's requests. Toby calls a meeting with everyone regarding Casual Friday. When Dwight tries to take charge of the meeting, Toby is finally stern with him and cancels Casual Friday, much to everyone's disappointment.

Michael calls a meeting with Dwight, Andy, Phyllis and Stanley to give them a formal apology, but they do not accept it since all they want is their clients back. Michael reluctantly agrees to give back their clients. In doing so, however, there are not enough clients to keep both Pam and Ryan on the sales team, leaving Michael to decide which one to keep. He talks it over with Jim, who suggests Pam would be better suited, while Michael thinks Ryan should get it. Michael calls a meeting with Pam after meeting with Ryan to inform her she did not get the sales job. Pam is visibly disappointed, but Michael starts laughing and tells her that she did get it, having offered Ryan a temp position again. Pam laughs it off and tells him he should stop with the "fake-firing" joke. Michael then decides to pull the joke on the new receptionist, Erin Hannon.

Deleted scenes

These were deleted scenes from the Season 5 DVD:

  • Michael explains that Pam, himself, and Ryan have been through a lot, like they were in a love triangle.
  • In the conference room meeting, Oscar welcomes Michael back, and Michael dramatically recaps recent events in the style of the television program 24. Dwight annoys Michael by adding the 24 theme song.
  • Jim gives Pam a homemade gift which is a diaorama of Dwight, Jim, and Pam on an island. Jim says it was from himself and Dwight. Dwight denies having anything to do with it and gets annoyed when Pam and Jim joke about what each character means.
  • Dwight calls Andy to tell him that there was a code in the message. Phyllis says, "It smelled like pee." Dwight angrily replies, "The pee was the code."
  • At the secret meeting, Dwight's attempts to describe his plan to Andy, Phyllis, Jim, and Stanley keep getting derailed by the other attendees making random comments. His plan to get Pam and Ryan fired: They all threaten to resign en masse. The others are reluctant to take such a risk, and worry what would happen if they fail. Dwight insists that "in my book, failure is not an option," but Andy points out that it is indeed an option.
  • Kelly asks Dwight what he is doing in her nook. Kelly shows Dwight a sign with "Kelly's Nook" on it and Dwight leaves. Kelly smiles proudly at the camera.
  • After Toby cancels casual Fridays, the office is outraged. Toby relents and says that they can wear whatever they want, causing the office to celebrate with hugs and handshakes. Toby whispers "I'm just tired" to the camera and sits at his desk.

Connections to other episodes

  • Erin compliments Kelly's outfit, the same outfit she asks Kelly for when Kelly offers Erin any of her clothes in "Body Language".
  • The picture of Toby standing outside a church while he was in seminary school is the same church the show uses later on for Jim and Pam's wedding "Niagara".
  • When Jim and Michael are discussing if Pam or Ryan will get the sales position, Jim suggests creating a Pro and Con list, similarly to how he does during "The Promotion". This also mirrors Pam making lists in "Dream Team".
  • Michael says, "Do I rent The Devil Wears Prada again?" referring to the cold open in "Money" which he acts to Pam as Meryl Streep acts to her secretary in the movie because he is renting The Devil Wears Prada.
  • Pam is the only person Michael has fake-fired twice; this was the second time and this time she takes it better. The first time was in the Season 1 episode "Pilot". This was Erin's first time being fake-fired.
  • Michael reinstitutes Casual Friday. It was previously revealed in "The Client" that he started Casual Fridays so that he may wear his jeans in the office, which he does so in this episode.
  • This is the second time that Michael eats the lunch brought by the Scranton branch, previously doing so in "Two Weeks".

Trivia

  • The cold open with Kevin's chili has become one of the iconic moments of the show. It takes a low-status character, offers him a high-status moment, and then mercilessly takes it away. People relate to the moment of private embarrassment and the desperation of trying to rescue something that cannot be saved. The scene teeters between comedy and heartbreak.
  • In 2020, Brian Baumgartner recorded an advertisement for Bush's Beans for National Chili Day which was inspired by the cold open. Watch it online. Brian's Famous Chili recipe.
  • Streaming service Peacock hid the recipe for "Kevin's Famous Chili" in its Terms and Conditions. According to one review, it was "a little underwhelming." The high liquid content makes it more like a soup, and the flavors were weak.
  • Urine really can be used as an invisible ink.
  • Ryan continues to be a terrible salesman, losing a client that Dwight was in charge of for years.
  • As of this episode, Ryan returns to his temp job.

Amusing details

  • Dwight's idea of dressing casually is not wearing a necktie. Angela's idea of dressing casually is wearing short sleeves (exposing her elbow).
  • The very first thing Michael does upon returning to his old job is call a meeting in the conference room.
  • Pam wears the purple sweater to the conference room meeting, but Phyllis does not. This allows the later reveal that the two are wearing the same outfit. In practice, the two characters would have noticed as soon as they saw each other when they arrived at work.
  • During Toby's talking head about leaving the seminary, Stanley is in the background eating.
  • Michael says he is not to be "truffled" with but he means "trifled" with. (See Michael's Botched Phrases)
  • Dwight uses Ryan's cup for the urine for his second secret letter.
  • Although Michael, Pam, and Ryan hated each other when they worked at the Michael Scott Paper Company, they stick together now that they are the outsiders at Dunder Mifflin.
  • Some of the pictures on Michael's "Memories" board have Michael, Pam, and Ryan all together. Who took those pictures?
  • Dwight forgets Stanley's surname when making up the name of his new paper company.
  • It is suggested that Michael was going to go along with Pam as salesperson anyway, but wanted Jim to say something bad about Pam.
  • Darryl tells Michael to stop building forts in the warehouse, suggesting he has done so before.
  • Of all the sales people, Jim is the only person who isn't angry at Michael for stealing their clients during The Michael Scott Paper Company.
  • This is one of the only times where people other than Michael and Dwight get after Toby. Even Erin goes after Toby, even though she's been on the job only a few weeks.
    • Michael didn't find out that people were getting after Toby over Casual Friday. If he saw people arguing with Toby, it would have made his day.
  • Unlike everyone else, Angela celebrates when Toby cancels Casual Friday.

Goofs

  • Toby says that he was in the seminary for a year but dropped out to pursue a girl, which led him to Scranton and "the first job I could find" in Human Resources. However, in a deleted scene from "Local Ad", Toby says that he worked for three years in advertising before coming to Dunder Mifflin. It's possible that he left H.R. for advertising, and then came back.

Behind the scenes

  • The script for this episode was completed barely on time. It was nearing the end of the marathon fifth season, and everything was down to the wire.[1]:1:05:45 In particular, the third act was written in a twelve-hour breakout pod consisting of Mindy Kaling, B.J. Novak, Gene Stupnitsky, and Lee Eisenberg.[2] That's also why the episode takes place entirely at Dunder Mifflin. The writers knew that a large location shoot was coming soon in "Company Picnic", so keeping this episode on the primary set saved time.[1]:1:05:59
  • There was disagreement in the writers room over whether the cold open was too lowbrow.[3]
  • This episode cold open was originally written for "Michael Scott Paper Company", but was moved to this episode.[3]
  • The original shooting script of the cold open has been posted online: See it here. The scene continues with Erin walking in and discovering the mess. She spots footprints going into the kitchen. Jim and Andy enter, and Jim explains, "Smells like Kevin's famous chili."[4] Writer Aaron Shure decided that the scene played much better as Kevin's private embarrassment.[3]
  • Aaron Shure came up with the idea for the cold open. He was inspired by a scene in the movie Tommy in which Ann-Margret's character (inexplicably) rolls around in baked beans.[3] Watch the original scene.
  • Aaron Shure's original concept was that Michael would be the one to cook the chili, but then realized it worked better with Kevin, since Kevin is normally not very eloquent.[3]
  • Writer Anthony Farrell searched recipes for spices which would be funny to hear Kevin say in his deep voice. Ultimately, they settled on simple ingredients, so as to build the contradiction between Kevin's snobbily proud description of his chili and the physical comedy that ensues.[3]
  • To protect the set, the crew laid down a plastic sheet over the regular carpet from the front entrance to past Jim and Dwight's desk, and put a new carpet on top of it. They had enough carpet for three takes, but needed only one, which was a relief because cleaning the set and cleaning Brian Baumgartner ended up taking over an hour.[3]
  • To avoid risk of premature spillage,[1]:33:43 the pot contained no chili for Kevin's trip from his car to the office front door, just two sandbags to provide the necessary weight. A full pot of chili would have weighed 40 to 50 pounds, so they built a false bottom into the pot to lighten the load as well as reduce the amount of chili needed. The chili was not going to be eaten, so they just used canned chili.[3]
  • There were a few rehearsals before shooting in order to map out exactly where and how Kevin would enter and drop the pot so as to provide perfect camera angles.[3]
  • The chili scene was the very last scene to be filmed, so that the extended cleanup time would not delay filming the rest of the episode.[1]:32:48
  • Once the chili spilled, Brian Baumgartner improvised Kevin's futile attempts to save the chili, grabbing folders, paper, anything he could get his hands on. The raw footage went on for five to seven minutes, which was cut down for the final episode.[3]
  • Production had made elaborate plans for how to clean the set after the scene was filmed, but they neglected to plan how to clean up Brian Baumgartner. He went to an on-set shower where a large number of people helped him get out of his chili-soaked clothes and clean up as much chili as they could.[1]:17:07
  • The actors playing the three accountants had a tradition of going out to a fancy dinner on a regular basis, and Brian joined Angela Kinsey and Oscar Nunez for a long-planned dinner at Mastro's Steakhouse in Beverly Hills, a very fancy steak and seafood restaurant.[1]:19:21 Despite the best efforts of himself and the crew, he still smelled like chili.[5] Baumgartner estimated that the smell lingered for at least 24 hours.[1]:21:17
  • The idea of having Michael struggle to break through the paper came from a YouTube video the writers had seen of a high school cheerleading squad failing to break through a paper banner, and then being trampled by the football team which was right behind them.[1]:36:58
  • The writers originally had a different wilder outfit for Creed with a religious-looking skull cap and scarf, but they dialed it back to what aired in the episode, realizing that Creed is funniest when he's right on the line where you can't tell if he's crazy or not.[2]
  • The "same outfit" story line was a late addition to the script, and costume designer Alysia Raycraft had to find something on very short notice. Normally, she would make the clothes from scratch, but the lack of time forced her to go shopping. Purple was one of the colors that was common to both Pam's and Phyllis's color palettes. Raycraft picked out three outfits at 9pm just as the mall was closing. The first one they tried was the plaid purple shirt, which was the one that was used in the episode.[1]:41:20
  • Mindy Kaling thought it was improbable that Pam would wear the purple outfit she does in this episode, feeling it doesn't fit her style.[2]
  • Angela Kinsey improvised the "I don't want to look at his feet" as she complained to Toby.[1]:46:32
  • The picture of Toby as a seminarian is a picture of Paul Lieberstein in costume superimposed on a picture taken of the church from "Phyllis's Wedding".[1]:49:05
  • In the meeting in the warehouse, Standards and Practices objected to Dwight saying "Jesus" and the show had to shorten it to "Jeez".[2]
  • Michael Gallenberg shot the photos that made up the "Memories" collage.[2] The photos were taken during the filming of "Broke".[1]:58:31
  • In the shooting draft, after Jim buys a soda from the vending machine, Creed says, "I come here to take a break. The restroom, that's what I call it."[1]:59:51 (In American English, a "restroom" is a public bathroom.)
  • In one take of Michael, Pam, and Ryan eating the other employees's food, Jenna Fischer shoveled egg salad[1]:1:02:53 into her mouth aggressively.[2] A clip can be found in the bloopers.
  • Director Brent Forrester found the scene in which Toby talks to Meredith about her outfit challenging to shoot. Meredith's brash attitude makes the scene work.[2]
  • Meredith's dress is really a skirt worn as a dress.[1]:1:11:06 Costume designer Alysia Raycraft altered it so that it would be easy for Kate Flannery to pull up and down as required. Under the dress, Flannery wore a moleskin top and a thong. There was discussion of wearing a merkin under the dress, but the pixellation was good enough.[1]:1:09:24
  • In real life, Creed Bratton does play chess recreationally.[1]:1:00:55
  • John Krasinski came up with the idea that Jim would simply walk away from Michael during their chat outside.[2]
  • There were many takes of the scene in which Phyllis cries, "You always said we were a family." Phyllis Smith stressed over how she should deliver it, and they shot it with varying degrees of hurt.[2]
  • The brief scene with Erin complimenting Kelly's outfit was part of a much longer improvisation that didn't make the final cut. At one point, Kelly compliments Erin, "You have hair like a mouse."[2]
  • The written scene of Michael fake-firing Pam ended when Michael calls in Erin.[1]:1:22:39 The cameras kept rolling, and Ellie Kemper hesitantly joined the scene, and their subsequent conversation was entirely improvised. In one take, Michael tells Erin that he has ear cancer. In another, he tells her that Creed killed a dog on the way to work, and it's in the freezer, and she needs to remove it. Director Brent Forrester stopped after four hilarious takes because he knew they had a winner in there, and he didn't want to take time away from filming the rest of the episode.[2]

Cultural references

  • Chili is a meat stew.
  • Boscov's is a department store chain found on the east coast, with half of its locations in Pennsylvania. There is indeed a Boscov's at the Steamtown Mall.
  • Michael says that he is "not to be truffled with". The correct phrase is "not to be trifled with" (not to be treated as insignificant, implying that there is a hidden danger). Michael confuses "trifle" meaning "to treat as insignificant" with the dessert "trifle", and then confuses it again with the chocolate "truffle".
  • Ryan suggests that Michael "crack some skulls like Michael Chiklis." Michael thinks that Ryan is referring to the actor's role as a police commissioner in the comedy series "The Commish", but Ryan was referring to Chiklis's role as a corrupt police detective in the drama "The Shield", in which his character often used violence.
  • Michael hands Ryan a sandwich wrapped in green paper. This is a sandwich from the Sheetz convenience store chain, headquartered in Pennsylvania. The letters "MTO" on the wrapper stand for "Made To Order", a feature of the chain in which customers can order a sandwich containing the ingredients they specify.
  • When Michael interrupts Creed and Jim's game of Scrabble, he lays down the letters "NOSCRUB." This is possibly a reference to the TLC song 'No Scrubs.'
  • Scrabble is a word game. Players can challenge their opponent's words if they think it is not a valid word.
  • Michael is unsure whether to rent Sophie's Choice or The Devil Wears Prada and says it is "what you would call a classic difficult decision." In Sophie's Choice, the title character must choose which of her two children would be sent to a Nazi labor camp and which would be put to death. The title has become eponymous with an impossibly difficult decision.
  • In a deleted scene, Michael says "Previously on 24" and recaps recent events. Every episode of 24 begins with the words "Previously on 24" followed by a montage of significant recent events. Dwight adds the 24 theme song.
  • In a deleted scene, Pam describes the doll as an "Amazon woman", referring to a mythological society of female warriors. In casual conversation, it is used to refer to a woman who is unusually tall. Jim explains that it's "like King Kong", referring to a classic movie featuring a monstrous gorilla and an attractive woman.
  • Dwight insists that "failure is not an option", the tag line for the movie Apollo 13. The line was coined by the movie's script writers but is widely attributed to Gene Kranz, mission flight director.

Cast

Main cast

Supporting cast

Recurring cast

References

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