"Prince Family Paper" is the thirteenth episode of the fifth season The Office and the show's 85th episode overall. It was written by B.J. Novak and directed by Asaad Kelada. The episode aired in the United States on January 22, 2009. It was viewed by 8.74 million people.


CFO David Wallace enlists Michael to report on the success of a small family-owned local paper competitor named Prince Paper (company) as he wishes to expand the company. Michael brings Dwight along to help gather information. Michael goes to the owner as a potential customer under his alias "Michael Scarn" while Dwight goes in as himself requesting a job. Michael succeeds in getting the customer list from the already struggling family business, run by a Vietnam War veteran. They use the client list as a reference for future sales and he and Dwight leave victorious. However, Michael breaks the bumper off his car trying to get out of the parking space, which catches the attention of the Prince family. They come out to help fix the bumper as much as they can as Michael watches. Michael is visibly moved by their kindness and has a change of heart regarding giving the customer list to Wallace, while Dwight remains unmoved.

Back at the office, Dwight tries to convince Michael that he can't let his heart get in the way of business. Michael obliges to send the list to Wallace, but not before he tries to escape back to Prince Paper to give them back the list. Dwight manages to chase Michael down and take the list from him, causing him to finally give in. David Wallace calls Michael to congratulate him on getting him the list. Michael then explains he feels "bittersweet" about the ordeal, bitter because he potentially ruined a decent family, and sweet because he satisfied Wallace, and afterward claiming that as the reason for not liking bittersweet chocolate.

Meanwhile, the rest of the office start arguing over whether or not Hilary Swank is hot. Half of the office say she is while the other half say she isn't. The argument gets heated at various points. Jim temporarily convinces Kevin to say she is by having him imagine Hilary kissing him, only to have him switch back when he says the debate is whether or not she is hot, not if he would have sex with her. Angela, initially reluctant to join the debate, takes the "hot" side stating Kevin deserves to lose for saying that he thought it would be revealed in Boys Don't Cry that Hilary was actually a male.

Kelly gets emotional when Toby says she isn't, making Kelly feel like she herself is not hot. Pam claims they shouldn't let the Kevins of the world decide who is hot or not, mentioning that they don't give Kevin full internet access. Oscar is seen in the board room giving an overhead presentation about the structure of Hilary Swank's facial features, ending by saying, "not hot". Stanley gives an uncharacteristically inspiring speech on how hot she is. At the end of the debate the sides are still tied, with Oscar noting there isn't much of a point to debating as people would still stay on their sides. At the end of the episode, Michael, oblivious of their debate, looks at photos of Hilary on the wall, saying she's hot, apparently casting the deciding vote.

Connections with other episodes

  • In "Two Weeks", it is revealed that Prince Paper went out of business.


  • Roger Prince owns a "World's Best Dad" mug, and Roger Prince Jr owns a "World's Best Son" mug, similar to Michael Scott's "World Best Boss" mug.
  • B.J. Novak (Ryan Howard) is credited but does not appear in this episode.
  • If one looks closely, Jim can be seen laughing while Stanley is giving his speech about Hilary Swank.
  • When Michael introduces himself at Prince Family Paper he says his name is Michael Scarn which is the name of the protagonist in his movie Threat Level Midnight.
  • Nobody attempts to get Dwight's opinion on Hilary Swank. Given his previous statements on women, he likely would find her unattractive.
  • The following employees think Swank is hot: Stanley, Kelly, Angela, Michael, Jim, Creed, Pam.
  • The Not team: Kevin, Toby, Oscar, Meredith, Phyllis, Andy.
  • While in the car before going into the Prince Paper building, Dwight says it would mean rain if the clouds in the sky were altocumulus and not cirrostratus. While he is right about cirrostratus not producing rain, altocumulus don't produce rain either.

Amusing Details

  • Michael confuses the 1973 James Bond film Live and Let Die with the phrase, "live and let live."
  • Michael does not realize that Roger Prince came back from the Vietnam War.
  • Michael takes a picture of the map of the locations of the customers of Prince Paper Company while pretending the subject is Linda.
  • The small '2' Michael refers to is probably a '2' used to denote the square of a number. Also, the 'x' is probably not 'times', but the variable 'x'.

Cultural References

  • Hilary Swank is an American actress.
  • As Dwight chases Michael for the "client list", his yell of "It's business! It's not personal!" is a quote from the 1972 crime epic The Godfather.
  • Denny's and IHOP are American restaurant chains.
  • Michael and Dwight imitate music from Jaws.
  • The Vietnam War was a war between North Vietnam and South Vietnam with the US also participating.
  • Boris Becker is a former world No.1 tennis player.
  • Altocumulus and Cirrostratus are types of clouds.
  • Kevin is referring to the film Boys Don't Cry, where Hilary Swank played the role of a trans man.
  • Koinophilia is an evolutionary hypothesis that animals are likely to choose mates with minimal mutant features.
  • Live and Let Die is a James Bond film.
  • Dwight is narrating the story of The Lord of the Rings to Michael.


Main Cast

Supporting Cast

Recurring Cast

Guest Cast

  • Dan Desmond as Roger Prince
  • Sharon Blackwood as Linda Prince
  • Dan Bakkedahl as Roger Prince, Jr.
  • Emily Rae Argenti as Rebecca Prince
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