How Andy Became An Aspirational Role For The Office's Ed Helms

As you know if you've used a dating app in the last five years, the US version of "The Office" remains incredibly popular, even almost 10 years after the show's finale. The show has such a strong following that its removal from Netflix sparked outcry and depression in thousands of viewers. "The Office" has the level of popularity where there seems to be dubious talk of a reboot every few months, one maybe more borne of wishful thinking than actual interest on the creative end. Additionally, the series innovated and set trends in the world of American sitcoms, including that of the talking head interview comedic device, which would be adapted by shows like "Parks and Recreation" even when it stopped making sense.

The faux-documentary following the misadventures and relationships of the seemingly ordinary employees of the Dunder-Mifflin Paper Company has a special place in the hearts of many. People love to laugh at characters like Michael Scott or Dwight Schrute, as well as identify with the more down-to-earth characters like the star-crossed lovers Jim and Pam.

Not a lot of people, however, would say a character they relate to on the show, or even root for, is Ed Helms' Andy Bernard. Andy is a bit of a doofus and sometimes more than a bit of a jerk. He reminds people constantly of his Ivy League education. He's full of insecurities that he does not hide well. But for Helms, who portrayed the hot-headed Cornell graduate, Andy is not only someone he relates to, but somebody he aspires to be.

Heart on his sleeve

Ed Helms joined "The Office" in its third season, when John Krasinski's Jim transfers to another office to avoid his feelings for Jenna Fischer's Pam. Andy Bernard is immediately a jerk, sucking up to the boss and giving Jim an unwanted nickname. Helms, who wasn't supposed to stay on the show past his debut season, impressed with his performance and was made a series regular.

After joining the show for the longterm, Andy went through a bit of a softening. Instead of the complete jerk with anger issues he started out as, he became more of a well-meaning but pompous moron. It was this evolution of the character that Helms began to really see himself in. In a deep dive interview with fellow "The Office" star Brian Baumgartner, Helms talks about this: 

"Andy is not very much like me, but only because I have better editing mechanisms for my own behavior. But I think a lot of Andy's impulses and instincts are, you know, I relate to. He's just not self-aware enough to put a check on them."

Being able to relate to the character's myriad flaws is one thing, but Helms was even able to find aspects of Andy's character that he straight up admired. "There are things that I actually really envy about Andy, that I wish I was more like," Helms said in the interview, specifically citing Andy's relationship with office ice queen, Angela. "He fell in love with Angela, and was just like, 'This is it. I'm all in. And I love you!' And everybody knew it, and there was no shame, there was no kind of reticence, and I think I just always loved that about Andy."

Becoming your character

Just like Andy's relationship with Angela, Andy's tenure on "The Office" didn't end very well in the view of many fans. After the departure of Steve Carrell following the show's seventh season, Andy became the boss of the Dunder-Mifflin Scranton branch for the show's much-maligned eighth and ninth seasons. This came along with another sharp character turn for Andy, bringing him back to his persona from his first season. Once again he was arrogant, full of rage, and rude to everyone around him.

Fans and critics were and continue to be critical of the choice to shift Andy's character in such a way, as he'd become a bit of a fan favorite in his more lovable persona. To me, it seemed like another sign of the show's decline which had been slowly escalating since even before Carrell's exit. The show was desperate for another boss character who could create as much conflict as Michael Scott, and they decided to cast from inside the show and modify the character in whatever way was easiest to generate artificial problems.

Even with how the show ended for him, one can see how Ed Helms, the man behind the character, admires what Andy became in the middle seasons of the show. It's clear he loves the character he played and all that came from it. The character afforded Helms lots of opportunity, launching Helms' movie career and even landing him an opportunity to speak at Andy's alma mater's commencement. Many television characters start to take on the personalities of their actors as they put all of themselves into their performance, and Ed Helms' Andy is a shining example of that.