The Office is a popular mockumentary sitcom on NBC that focuses on the employees of a regional branch of Dunder Mifflin, Inc. With the premiere of its 9th season last Thursday, I thought I would share something that I've discovered about the series.
Dunder Mifflin is a publicly traded mid-cap office paper supply and distribution company, with offices in Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and most recently, Florida. For most of its run the show focused on a regional branch of the company, ran by a bumbling, inept office manager named Michael Scott. Since Michael Scott's departure from the show, the company has been a subsidiary of Sabre Incorporated, a Korean printer company, headquartered in Tallahassee.
But consider this:
Dunder Mifflin is a front company for a large Northeast regional drug smuggling ring. It uses paper sales to legitimize its earnings and delivery trucks to move and ship the product to its regional distribution centers. Here's how it works.
David Wallace is the cartel leader and kingpin, using his Wall Street background and ruthless business skills to procure and market the product worldwide. Dunder Mifflin's paper clients are smaller regional drug buyers and sellers, using Dunder Mifflin's paper product to launder their finances and transport their drugs undetected. He funnels their money through the publicly-traded paper company, and oversees the entire operation from his office in downtown Manhattan. In season 6, he decides he wants out and sells the company to Southwest cartel kingpin Jo Bennett, then later buys the operation back from her at the end of season 8.
Ryan is the wunderkind of the drug world, or should I say was. Ryan was hired at the end of season 3 to help manage the paper side of Dunder Mifflin, having just recently completed his MBA. This explains why, in Season 4, Ryan Howard's rise to power in the Dunder Mifflin corporate world led to his addiction to cocaine and eventual fraud charges, bringing unwanted attention to the company and threating the entire organization. Ryan is humiliated and sent to work as a temp in the Scranton office as punishment for his mistakes.
Creed Bratton aka William Charles Schneider
Creed Bratton is the jack-of-all-trades of the Dunder Mifflin organization. Despite his persona of being a scatter-brained, washed-up guy living out his autumn years in a go-nowhere job, Creed is actually highly intelligent and organized. Creed is responsible for "quality assurance" at Dunder Mifflin, both in the above-board paper company and in the drug organization, making sure that shipments arrive on time, supplies are up to standards, and that problems are handled quickly before they have a chance to get out of hand. His nonsensical ramblings and seeming separation from reality make operating under the radar much easier, as no one expects much from him. Creed's long years in the business have made him the go-to guy for just about anything, and much like Red in Shawshank Penitentiary, he's a man who knows how to get things.
Darryl is the warehouse manager for Dunder Mifflin Scranton. By day, he makes sure that all the paper supplies go out on time and in the right quantities to the right people. By night, he makes sure that all the company's drug shipments go out on time and in the right quantities to the right people. Darryl is one of the most critical members of the operation, because he oversees both the paper shipments and the illegal drug shipments concealed within them. His job also involves hiring and training trustworthy and discreet drivers to make shipments under the radar.
Charles Miner aka Stringer Bell
Charles Miner is a Dunder Mifflin executive working directly under CEO and Kingpin David Wallace. Known for his no-nonsense business acument and ruthlessness in the drug world, Stringer Bell came to Dunder Mifflin after faking his own death in Baltimore to escape the Barksdale drug operation there, changing his name to Charles Miner and inventing a fake management background. He is sent in to help repair the damage after Ryan nearly blows the whole operation when he's convicted of fraud at the height of a cocaine addiction. Stringer Bell disagrees with David Wallace's choice of Michael to run the Scranton branch, and ultimately pushes him out. However, after he realizes that Michael is essential to the operation, he goes to work elsewhere in the operation and Michael returns to the Scranton branch.
Michael is the hired distraction for the company. His lack of intelligence and social understandings make him a constant thorn in the side of the paper company employees. He is a constant distraction, and his cluelessness about the actual business side of Dunder Mifflin provides both a way to conceal the illicit trade as well as to provide a scapegoat if the conspiracy is ever discovered. Eventually David realizes that Michael's love for Holly could jeopardize the operation, and the two are moved to Colorado.
Holly Flax aka Officer Beadie Russell
After escaping the corrupt Port Authority police in Baltimore, Ofc Russell assumes the name Holly Flax and joins the organization in Season 4, replacing Toby in Human Resources. A former law enforcement officer, her job is to help maintain the front for the organization in order to avoid law enforcement detection. As an HR rep, her job is to keep the company out of the courtroom and out of the public eye. Once she falls in love with Michael, David transfers her to the Nashua office to avoid any potential complications, but when she returns to Scranton and falls in love again, he decides to let them both move to Colorado and leave the organization.
Hide (hee-day) comes into the organization in season 6, where he works alongside Darryl in the warehouse. A skilled surgeon from Japan, he arrives at Dunder Mifflin after fleeing Japan for assassinating a Yakuza mob boss during surgery. Hide becomes the company's enforcer in the Northwest region, dealing with stubborn customers or late payments as necessary.
Jolene Bennett aka Jo
Jo Bennett is the leader of the largest drug cartel operation in the Southeast area, Sabre Inc. Sabre is a Korean printer company that is actually a front for a meth distribution network based in Seoul, South Korea. After David Wallace decides to leave the drug game, Jo's company Sabre buys his Dunder Mifflin operation, seeking to expand its market share and production capacity. Jo has a closer hand in managing the Dunder Mifflin operations than David Wallace did, which explains her constant presence in the Scranton branch despite being the CEO of a multinational corporation. She usually travels with at least one bodyguard (Gabe) and 2 large dogs for protection.
Eric Ward aka Gale Boetticher
Eric Ward is a "fact checker" and investment banker. Prior to changing his name to Gale Boetticher and going to work as a cook for Gus Fring's Los Pollos Hermanos Southwest organization, Eric Ward was the top chemist and quality control supervisor for Jo's Sabre drug production network. In Season 6, he is sent to Dunder Mifflin under the guise of being an "investment banker" prior to Jo's buyout to check their inventory, inspect their supplies, assess their operations, and report back to Jo on the stability and potential of the company and its product.
Harry Jarrone aka Frank Sobotka
Harry Jarrone is a sales and distribution associate in the Utica branch of Dunder Mifflin. Jarrone joined the organization after faking his death and escaping the dangerous world of working as a Baltimore stevedores' union leader. Holly Flax aka Ofc Russell convinced him to join the Dunder Mifflin organization, which he accepts ddue to the trust they earned in Baltimore, and he grows to a position of importance in the Utica office. He confronts leader Robert California after he cuts off his supplies from the Binghamton branch in Season 8.
Robert California aka Bob Kazamakis
Robert California is the CEO of Sabre, Inc. after Jo resigns the position. He is responsible for overseeing the operation, and takes several steps to modernize the legitimate side of Dunder Mifflin, including increasing sales and expanding into new markets. He creates tension within the organization when he changes the supply lines without notifying the regional distributors, resulting in Harry Jarrone's angry confrontation. When David Wallace rebuys the organization back from Jo in season 8, California leaves to go work abroad, exploring the possibility of expanding the market internationally.
Watch the series again on Netflix or Hulu and I guarantee you'll see that there is a massive drug smuggling operation being documented right in front of your eyes, and you never would have noticed it if I hadn't said something. You're welcome.