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Abbott Elementary’s Tyler James Williams Explains Why He Can No Longer Watch The Office

Tyler James Williams as Gregory on Abbott Elementary
(Image credit: ABC)

Abbott Elementary’s Season 1 finale proved why it’s regarded as one of the best comedies that TV has to offer right now. The show's tremendous first season, however, has yielded comparisons to another acclaimed mockumentary – The Office. The talk of similarities between the series has surrounded the freshman sitcom since it premiered. While the comparisons are flattering, series lead and creator Qunita Brunson made it a point to point out the differences between both comedies. And now, Tyler James Williams is opening up about why he can no longer watch the since-ended TV staple

One way in which the ABC sitcom has been compared to the beloved NBC comedy is through the “will-they-won’t-they” relationship between Gregory and creator Quinta Brunson’s Janine. The two characters have been heavily compared to The Office super couple Jim and Pam. Abbott Elementary's Tyler James Williams is more than aware of this fact and is actually a fan of the Steve Carrell-led show. Though for the sake of his performance, he's opted to stop watching it:

It’s impossible for ‘The Office’ not to be an influence. It’s the golden standard of this style. And Randall Einhorn, who [was a cinematographer and director] on “The Office” is one of our executive producers, and directed [six] episodes of this season. So, there’s gonna be a lot of things that feel that way. However, for me, unfortunately, I can no longer watch ‘The Office.’ Because I don’t want to bring things in that I’m not even cognizant of. I have to lose ‘The Office’ in this process, so that we don’t end up directly stealing anything here.

It's unfortunate to hear that Everybody Hates Chris alum had to stop watching the mockumentary, though his reasoning is understandable. Aspects of the early 2000s show could indeed rub off on him unconsciously. Despite this, the star does see a positive aspect of the comparisons. In the same Variety interview, the actor mentioned that they've fueled his competitive spirit.

It’s like the comparison between [Michael] Jordan and the Bulls and LeBron [James] and — not the Lakers now, because, geez, we’re not making playoffs … but you know what I mean? The fact that this is even the conversation, particularly as a Season 1 show, is incredibly humbling. It’s an honor. If that’s the bar that we’re being compared to, that’s where I would like to reside. I like high stakes. So, if it comes down to, “Which one’s better? ‘The Office’ or ‘Abbott?’” I’ll take that fight every day.

Ouch! Sorry for the dig, Lakers, but the Walking Dead alum has a point. The heavy influx of “who’s better” debates really speak the strength of the freshman comedy’s storytelling and character development and could bode well for its future. One might also think that the discussions will continue to rage on when Abbott Elementary returns for a second season. Let's hope that Tyler James Williams, Quinta Brunson and the rest of the cast continue to shine and take the Office comparisons in stride as the show continues its run.

If you've yet to see Abbott Elementary, you can get a Hulu subscription and watch all of Season 1, which is definitely worth checking out. Those who've already seen the series can use their time to check out the new and returning shows that are premiering this spring and summer.

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