Introducing the handy guide to all the show's cultural references, organized by year
Anyone who’s watched more than an episode or two of The Office knows that the characters — especially boss Michael Scott — like to make pop culture references. But until you see all of these references catalogued and organized in one place, it’s easy to miss just how influential pop culture was on the show’s humor and overall aesthetic — and just how abundant the references really are.
That’s where The Office Time Machine comes in. Created by digital artist and director Joe Sabia, the website lets you plug in any year and view a compilation of every pop culture reference from that time period. According to Sabia, throughout the series’ nine seasons, there are around 1,300 references to TV shows, movies, celebrities, catchphrases, holidays and more. The project, which took him a year and a half to complete, intends to “to advocate for copyright reform and highlight the importance of fair use in protecting creators and their art.
On the site, Sabia explains that he also hopes to highlight just how much we rely on culture:
The Office is relatable (and hilarious) because it borrows so much from culture, and people get the references. Culture is society’s collected knowledge, art, and customs. It’s what surrounds us and unites us, and it allows us to collectively laugh at a joke in The Office about Ben Franklin or M. Night Shyamalan. Culture, simply put, is the seasoning in a meal.
Here are a few of the compilation videos:
Sabia’s catalog is impressively comprehensive, though there were a few references he was unable to pinpoint:
So if you’re able to identify any of those, he’d love for you to contact him. Then, maybe you two could enjoy a Battlestar Galactica marathon followed by a rousing debate over whether or not Hilary Swank is hot.