I don’t know if you’d call it a skill, exactly, but Mike Judge has an incredible knack for making films that are a complete failure at the box office and yet wildly successful as cultural touchstones. Hardly a days goes by that I don’t hear someone say “the Nazis had flair – they made the Jews wear it.”
Turns out, people at TGI Fridays heard it too, so much so that they did away with flair because of it. From an interview with Deadline:
DEADLINE: What Strange Brew was to Gen X, Office Space is to the millennial generation. What is it about that film that still resonates?
JUDGE: It’s definitely made a big profit for Fox and there’s even merchandise. I started to notice it was getting a cult following a year or two after it came out. I would have thought that the world would have changed more, and that the film wouldn’t be relevant, but I think there are still bosses and offices like that. About four years after Office Space came out, TGI Fridays got rid of all that (button) flair, because people would come in and make cracks about it. One of my ADs asked once at the restaurant why their flair was missing and they said they removed it because of that movie Office Space. So, maybe I made the world a better place. Sometimes, I’m surprised that it’s relevant. I thought there would be a new kind of asshole boss and this would be antiquated.
Even bigger than that, the Nazis no longer make the Jews wear it. Thanks, Office Space.
I feel like Mike Judge is the only person who challenges the South Park guys in terms of consistently relevant cultural satire. Though sometimes it’s hard to square my love of Mike Judge with my hatred for King of the Hill. “Oh, a comedy about rednecks? Awesome idea!” “Well, it’s sort of a comedy about rednecks, but mostly it’s this soap opera about a whiny obnoxious, pussy.”
I think Office Space is one of my favorite Mike Judge projects partly because its protagonist was the least sensitive of them.
If you’re not watching Veep, you might never know just how good a comedy actor Bill Lumberg is.