The date was December 3, 2009 and 'twas a cold, blistering night — probably, at least somewhere in the world. NBC chose to air a new episode of The Office called "Scott's Tots." What happened next was the airing of 21 minutes of some of the most unwatchable scripted programming ever concocted. If you're one of those who continually binge The Office on repeat, you know exactly what we're talking about. Starring Steve Carell as Dunder-Mifflin Scranton regional manager Michael Scott, this particular episode of the hit comedy show took dialed its cringe all the way up to max capacity.
Toward the beginning of the episode, we find out that ten years prior, Scott had promised a class of local third graders he'd pay for their college tuition should they stay in school and graduate. As you might expect, the group — named Scott's Tots — followed up their end of the bargain and had a successful time at school. When they were about to graduate, they invited Michael back for a speech and the remainder of the episode deals with the paper salesman trying to figure out how to tell them he can't afford their promised tuition. Why'd he do something as absurd? I mean, after all, there's no chance the boss of a mid-level paper supply company could support something like that. At the time, he thought he'd be a millionaire — a total Michael move.
The episode has been long-heralded as an "instant skip" episode by many due to its incredibly cringeworthy content. But why's the episode such a disaster to many? Psychologist Dr. Pamela Rutledge previously told Bustle it was all a matter of an intense feeling of shame over the characters involve in the episode.
"Cringe-worthy moments are the emotion of shame," Rutledge said. "Shame is more fundamental than guilt. Shame is the feeling that the whole self is flawed — inadequacy, unworthiness, or disconnection. It is a core emotion that has to do with our connection to others ... Shame is physically uncomfortable because it is not something we want others to see. The anticipation of being shamed creates anxiety."
Can you stick it through "Scott's Tots" or is an instant skip? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!