When we shared the news that an Office spinoff featuring Dwight Schrute as the star might be in the works, our readers were mostly optimistic in the poll we ran. But I saw plenty of backlash on Twitter and other sites, with commenters expressing disapproval or disinterest in a Dwight-centered series. It’s possible that some or many pictured a comedy that merely expanded on past Office episodes, which have featured Dwight at home on “Schrute Farms,” however, I thought the description Deadline shared when they posted the news painted a broader picture of life on Schrute Farms.
The site called the proposed spinoff a “family comedy,” going on to quote their source as saying:
Paul and Rainn have been joking for years about Dwight’s life on the farm, his family and how ill-suited he is to run a B&B. A while ago, it started to feel like a show to them. NBC agreed, it’s been further developed to include multiple generations, many cousins and neighbors.
Reading that, I didn’t picture just Dwight (and possibly Mose) alone on their farm. I pictured other, possibly weirder Schrutes as well. From what Rainn Wilson told E!’s Giuliana Rancic at the SAG awards this weekend, weird is the goal. Per TV Line, Wilson said, “It would have a crazy menagerie of characters. It would be even more far out and weird than The Office.”
In further defense of this idea, and in response to comments I’ve seen referencing the awful Friends spin-off Joey, with all due respect to Matt LeBlanc, whom I loved in Friends and more recently, in Episodes, by the end of Friends, Joey really wasn’t much more than a one-note character that had devolved steadily throughout the base series, leaving little left to build a decent spinoff from. Dwight may not have grown drastically as a character over the course of The Office, but there's definitely more potential to build something around him than there was with Joey Tribbiani.
Perhaps this is just optimism talking, or maybe I just love Dwight Schrute, but I think the writers may have only begun to scratch the surface of the Schrute family with Dwight, and Wilson’s comments seem to emphasize that, assuming the “menagerie of characters” includes even more weird Schrutes. The fact that Dwight’s able to work in an office at all may prove to have been a lengthy demonstration of how mainstream he is by comparison to the rest of his family. Whether or not what they have in mind makes for a great spinoff remains to be seen, assuming this project actually comes to fruition. In the meantime, I’m giving the Schrutes the benefit of the doubt.