When people criticize The Office, it’s usually about the plot-line becoming flat, the show going on long after all the characters stopped developing , or just not being funny anymore. But Daniel D’Addario has another problem with NBC’s hit comedy: he says that the show’s token gay character Oscar (Oscar Nunez) is offensively stereotyped. To which we reply “Nope.”
From Daniel’s article in Splitsider:
Oscar (Oscar Nunez), one of the three accountants, is a cartoon gay man.
He’s fussy, prissy, aesthetic, and cruel — a sketch of a certain type of homosexual drawn by writers who seem to know the type at which they’re aiming. He is a member of the office’s “Finer Things Club”; he and his sometime boyfriend cruelly criticize Pam’s (Jenna Fischer’s) artwork; he is obsessed with one-upping his co-workers. He doesn’t smile –- he smirks. He doesn’t have hobbies –- he has an orientation.
Oscar himself doesn’t respond to his coworkers’ barbs, but the entire conversation around him is about homosexuality. In a recent episode, “China,” Oscar’s joyless attempts to prove he knew more about geopolitics than Michael were foiled by the entire office working together.
Okay, lets start at the top. Daniel’s essay begins by praising the show for its diversity in race. Which is true: Mindy Kaling steals almost episode, and we agree that her role “a woman whose obsessions with celebrity gossip and Netflixing romantic comedies far outweigh the practically insignificant fact of her race.” Of course, Mindy’s character is exactly that: a ditzy woman. She is much more a negative “stereotype” of women in the workplace than a stereotypical “Indian.” (Though she’s not above using race to get ahead, like when she tells the audience that she spent the summer taking a minority executive training program at Yale, by saying “You guys I’m like really smart now. You don’t even know. You could ask me, Kelly what’s the biggest company in the world? And I’d be like, “blah blah blah, blah blah blah blah blah blah.” Giving you the exact right answer.”)
And Kevin? Well since he’s a white male, it’s impossible to say his character is stereotyped, right? Even though through the 8 seasons of the show, the very funny hasn’t had a single punchline that didn’t involve being a dim-witted fat man with a funny voice.
But back to Oscar, whose role on the show has become that of Jim’s from the first several seasons: he’s now the voice of reason and the only sane member of that Scranton branch. The most obvious features of Oscar are his job (accountant), his self-righteous politics, his exasperation with his coworkers, and his ethnicity. He’s not effeminate, and he doesn’t blare his sexual orientation every episode, like say Cam and Mitch from Modern Family or Jack from Will and Grace. Daniel’s argument seems to be that gay stereotypes can only exist on shows that don’t revolve around gay people. In fact, Oscar from The Office is one of the least stereotypical gay characters to ever appear on television.
Plus there’s this:
In the third-season premiere, entitled “Gay Witch Hunt,” Oscar outs himself to the entire staff after filing a complaint against Michael for using a gay slur. What happens in this episode -– a gay-panic plot that culminates in an Oscar-Michael kiss -– is far less important than what came after it. The show was unwilling to write for a gay character for a while, so Oscar took a leave of absence
Again: wrong. Oscar Nunez left The Office to star in the ill-fated Comedy Central Show, Halfway House. He came back after the show tanked.
And lets face it: you don’t need to be Andy Warhol to know that Pam’s paintings suck.