Actress Kate Flannery, who played Meredith Palmer, delighted such a thing exists.
It seems like every show these days is getting the “immersive experience” treatment: Friends, Bridgerton, Stranger Things and now in D.C. — The Office.
“I love that The Office Experience exists, it’s such a tribute to the fans,” said Kate Flannery, who played the brassy, sassy and often inebriated Meredith Palmer in an exclusive interview with The Georgetowner.
A few years ago, Flannery guest starred on HGTV’s “A Very Brady Renovation,” which allowed her to immerse herself into one of her own favorite shows. “I was such a fan of The Brady Bunch, I mean this house had everything, every room was exactly like the show,” Flannery said. “If we could create something that’s even close to that, just as a fan it was a feeling that will stick with me forever — it felt like a dream.”
Not only did the long-running NBC show create something close to The Brady Bunch’s version, they went above and beyond. As the kids say these days, “They understood the assignment.”
The Office Experience is currently running through January 16, 2023, at 1020 G St. NW as part of the latest pop-up exhibit to hit the area. The interactive extravaganza is based on the world’s number 1 streamed series set in a Dunder Mifflin paper company office in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
For fans of the show, it is truly a tribute to everything you can think of – and everything you love about the show. Multiple floors of everything Office-related, including the stapler in Jell-o, Michael’s World’s Best Boss mug and Alfredo’s Pizza Café boxes in the fridge are like little Easter eggs dotting the gigantic ode to the show.
Guests can walk through set recreations of the bullpen (including Michael’s office), the break room (complete with vending machine), the warehouse, Jim and Pam’s wedding chapel, and even Schrute Farms. You can walk over “hot coals” a la Pam in “Beach Games,” pose with authentic sumo wrestler suits from the same episode and if you go with your significant other, you can recreate Jim and Pam’s Niagara Falls Maid of the Mist secret wedding ceremony. You can even pose with Kevin’s famous spilled vat of chili.
“People have so many memories and specific inside jokes, it’s fantastic, it really is,” Flannery said. She’s not wrong — the group of friends I went with had our own set of inside jokes and we walked through the exhibit like kids on Christmas morning, rediscovering years of nostalgia. The exhibit was dotted with famous quotes from the show (don’t worry, the escalator going to another floor was devotedly solely to “That’s what she said” quotes!)
Talking to Flannery added another element to the exhibit, knowing specific tidbits like the fact that she initially auditioned for the role of Jan, which went to Melora Hardin (“They clearly went a different way,” Flannery laughed). Flannery also kept her restaurant job during season one, until the beginning of season 2 when Steve Carell’s hit movie “The 40 -Year-Old Virgin” was released. “I remember thinking, oh my god, this is huge, he’s at a totally different level and we’re with him,” Flannery said. She knew something big was about to happen, realizing that after that, life would never be the same for her.
Flannery landed her role in The Office when she was 40 years old, which gave her an extra sense of appreciation. She knew she still had to work hard, and the reality is, you just don’t cross a line and it becomes easy.
For fans of the show, they know Meredith is a woman of few words. That’s a trait Flannery loved about the character. “There’s something realistic about when you work with a lot of people, you don’t know everybody all at once,” she said. “Some people get revealed more slowly, I just felt lucky to be there holding space for people who don’t talk louder or get as much attention at work.”
On Mondays, when the series’ camera crew filmed what they called “general views,” aka the office workers doing general, mundane “office-y” stuff, the cast was told to bring real paperwork. Flannery’s computer screen was on camera almost all the time, so she wasn’t allowed to surf the internet. Hence, Meredith’s solitaire games were born!
Also, in case you’re wondering, Flannery did do a lot of her own stunts. While she didn’t specify if she set her own hair on fire, actually got trapped in a bag with a bat or run over by Michael’s car, it’s easy to do a Google search and figure out exactly what she did. “It’s fun and funnier when you know it’s the real actor,” she added. “We were supposed to be shooting a documentary so if it’s too much movie magic then people are sort of onto it.”
If you’re planning on going to The Office Experience, the best part is the employees. They were all so easygoing, willing to take photo after photo and listen to Chris Brown’s “Forever” on repeat in the wedding chapel. The pleasant experience was truly a testament to them.
I’ll leave you with one tip: when you’re in the bullpen portion of the exhibit, pick up everyone’s phones at their desks and hold them to your ear. You won’t be disappointed! …. That’s what she said!