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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.
  • Oscar welcomes Michael back, and Michael explains what happened.
  • Dwight sings the 24 theme song.
  • Jim gives Pam a gift with Dwight, Jim, and Pam on an island, which Jim tells was from himself and Dwight. Dwight says he didn't give it and tries to convince Pam.
  • Dwight tells Andy that urine was the code on the paper.
  • Dwight tells Andy, Phyllis, Jim, and Stanley his plan to get Pam and Ryan fired.
  • Dwight explains that failure is not an option. Andy and Phyllis tell Dwight that it is 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.
  • After Toby cancels casual Fridays, the office is outraged. Since he is tired, he says that they can wear whatever they want, causing the office to celebrate with hugs and handshakes. Toby mumbles 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.
  • 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).
  • Dwight forgets Stanley's surname.
  • 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 2nd secret letter.
  • Darryl tells Michael to stop building forts in the warehouse, implying he has done so before.
  • It is suggested that Michael was going to go along with Pam as salesperson anyway, but wanted Jim to say something bad about Pam.

Behind the scenes

  • There was disagreement in the writers room over whether the cold open was too lowbrow.[1]
  • This episode cold open was originally written for "Michael Scott Paper Company", but was moved to this episode.[1]
  • 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."[2] Shure decided that the scene played much better as Kevin's private embarrassment.[1]
  • Writer 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.[1] 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.[1]
  • 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.[1]
  • 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.[1]
  • For most of Kevin's trip, the pot contained no chili, 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.[1]
  • 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.[1]
  • 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.[1]
  • At the end of the day, Brian Baumgartner went out to dinner at a "very fancy steakhouse in Beverly Hills" with actors Angela Kinsey and Oscar Nunez. Despite the best efforts of himself and the crew, he still smelled like chili.[3]

Cultural references

  • Chili is a meat stew.
  • Boscov's is a department store chain found on the east coast.
  • 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". He doesn't seem to know that difficult decisions are often compared to the movie Sophie's Choice and that the phrase is "a classic dilemma."
  • 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.

Cast

Main cast

Supporting cast

Recurring cast

References

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