My worst fear has been officially confirmed.
It's not that Steve Carell is leaving The Office after this season. (He is, NBC confirmed today; but that's far from a surprise as those rumors have been swirling for months.)
Rather, my nightmare come true is this: NBC executive Angela Bromstad said that The Office will continue even without its biggest star:
"Not to diminish the departure of Steve, because that will impact the show, but we have tremendous faith in the writers and actors to keep it alive."
But, but ... how can you have The Office without Steve Carell? In the business they always say, "The show must go on!" But in this case, should it?
True, the show has fantastic writers and a terrific ensemble cast -- two key elements that would ordinarily ensure a solid run even after a major star's departure. But I already think the series has gone on way too long; as a loyal fan from the beginning, I've continued to watch even though the plot consistently fails to interest me. The thought of having to watch it drag out even further -- and without its main character -- makes me dread Thursday nights.
Steve Carell is the pivotal center point from which most of the show's comedy and awkwardness emanate: Most of the jokes stem from how the other characters react to his actions and dialogue. Unless the show was able to sign an equally talented and hilarious actor to replace him, I'm not sure how the sitcom would work.
Yet, the show's executive producer Paul Lieberstein admits that bringing in a big-name star as a replacement is not the "front-running" idea:
"Right now, we're still talking about a lot of scenarios. We're trying to get a sense of what the office is like without Steve. We want to be real: What would this office really do [if Michael Scott left]? We want to pursue this as honestly as Dunder Mifflin would."
Here's hoping the show's creators have a brilliant trick up their sleeve ... For now, all we can do is enjoy our last season with Steve.
Will you watch The Office after Steve Carell leaves? Who do you think should replace him?
Image via NBC.com