Jim Halpert And Stringer Bell Are The Same Person: An Investigation

Binge-watching ‘The Office’ and ‘The Wire’ together has brought about a revelation hiding in plain sight.

David Dennis, Jr.

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I binge-watch. Like, a lot. It’s just one of the things I have the privilege to do as someone who works from home 100 percent of the time. I’ve spent endless hours watching new shows and movies whether I’ve liked them or not. Whole seasons breeze by in a matter of days, playing in the background while I type away at whatever I’m working on. But something strange happened during COVID: I found myself wanting the comfort of shows I was already familiar with. I don’t know what exactly brought about this phenomenon but it seems like everyone was on board revisiting their favorite shows while quarantined, whether that be Mad Men, The Sopranos, The Good Place, The Americans or anything else that I used to obsess over.

For me, the summer binge was a cocktail of The Wire and The Office. By day I was devouring the story of Baltimore and the towers. By night my wife and I were unwinding while finding laughs with the crew from Scranton. But as I watched the two shows, I’d start to get this weird feeling of déjà vu. I wasn’t quite sure where it was coming from as the two shows couldn’t be more different. Then it hit me: when I watch Stringer Bell and Jim Halpert on screen, I’m watching the exact same character. Which may be why I hate them both equally.

Let’s break it down.

Jim Halpert and Stringer Bell are two of the most famous second-in-commands in TV history, though it took Jim a little while longer to rise up the ranks. They shared the ambition of wanting to be something more than what they were: Jim wanting to move beyond the world of selling paper, and Stringer wanting to be something more legitimate and established than a millionaire drug kingpin. Not only did they want to transcend their surroundings, they thought they deserved to be elevated beyond their peers, mainly because they felt so superior to everyone around them. That superiority complex was unfounded and part of their insufferableness—and ultimately their downfalls.

On the surface, Jim Halpert is infinitely smarter than his bumbling boss, Michael Scott — who, might I remind you…

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David Dennis, Jr.

Level Sr. Writer covering Race, Culture, Politics, TV, Music. Previously: The Undefeated, The Atlantic, Washington Post. Forthcoming book: The Movement Made Us