The Office: Chairs for David Brent

by Fabian Toulouse

The character of David Brent has managed to become a cultural icon. Played distinctly by Ricky Gervais, Brent is the general manager of the Slough Branch of Wernham-Hogg paper merchants. He is self-promoting, hypocritical, idiosyncratic and self-delusional. Brent wants to be everyone’s friend and mentor. He thinks everyone finds him funny, loves being near him, and looks up to him as a father figure. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.

Brent longs to be celebrated and appreciated as a Renaissance man. He indulges his every whim, musing out loud about his artistic endeavors. He claims to be a soulful writer of lyrics and poetry. He believes he is an exceptional stand-up comedian, singer, and potential actor.

Though he identifies himself as a educated, politically-correct supervisor, his actions reveal him to be nothing more than an offensive oaf. However insulting or awkward he may seem, Brent is never malicious. He is simply ignorant, and when he tries to make amends, ends up making the situation that much worse.

He is desperate to be seen as a “friend first, and a boss second.” When a long overdue restructuring leaves Brent with a promotion to a corporate job, he willingly accepts. What he never bothered to consider was how his promotion would spell the end of his Slough branch, leaving his employees without a job. He is surprised to find out no one is happy for him.

Brent argues that the camera crew has misrepresented him as a bad boss. Swiveling in his office chair, smug as ever, he is a hard character to like and an easy one to laugh at. When he comes face to face to being unemployed, it is hard not to enjoy his discomfort, and his bumbling shock. It’s a just dessert for someone like David Brent.

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