The Office - The Target 1


The 8th episode of season’s ‘The Office’ (American version) titled ‘The Target’ features a sub-plot of embracing failure to unfetter creativity. Customer service representative Peter Miller alleviates boredom by building a house-of-cards out of the Dunder Miflin ‘Complaint Cards’. When the other staff join in to make a gigantic structure, Kevin slips and knocks the entire edifice down. While the others are quick to jump on Kevin, Peter comes to his defence with the following melodramatic monologue…

  • “Hey, hey, hey, it’s just a mistake. That’s what this tower is all about. Mistakes. Okay, if you are afraid of screwing up, the tower’s not for you. Show of hands…who here has never had a complaint? That’s right…nobody. Let’s get back to work.”

When he asks for a show of hands, Pam – who has been struggling all episode to get going on the art mural in the warehouse that she pledged to paint in order to start fulfiling her creative ambitions – meekly holds hers up (see photo above). When they rebuild the tower but find themselves short of a single card, Pam decides to come out of the shadows of her perfection and step into the bright fluorescent light of failure…

  • Pam – “I could get us a complaint.”
  • Meredith – “You little Miss Priss? You wouldn’t even fart on a butterfly.”
  • Pam – “No I wouldn’t. I can’t even relate to that impulse. But I bet I could get us a customer complaint.”

Pam calls up a random customer and launches into them with a lame ‘Your Mama’ insult (with exceptionally dire consequences as that person’s mother had just passed away). But Pam had now crossed the Rubicon on failure which was all she needed to get going on her artistic creation. The penultimate scene shows her painting away productively (and even standing down some heckling from one of the warehouse staff). She concludes…

“If you are an artist, you have to be okay with the idea that you can’t please everybody all the time.”


The Office - The Target 2