Oftentimes when an actor has a particularly successful role, it can overshadow their later career a bit. But Jenna Fischer's new co-star called himself "the new Jim" in a recent interview promoting Splitting Up Together, referring to his leading lady's last on-screen romantic interest. That would be John Krasinski, of course, who played the Jim Halpert to Fischer's Pam Beesly for The Office's entire nine-season run. Let's just say the internet wasn't thrilled about Oliver Hudson's comments.
The NBC comedy wrapped its final episode in 2013, but it's still stayed very much on the minds of fans. Even five years later, Jim and Pam continue to be one of the most iconic and memorable couples on television. In short, it's a hard act to follow, which is probably why Hudson was so quick to throw the idea out as a joke. The series, which premiered on March 27, centers on a couple who decide to keep living together through their divorce, a decision which delivers a surprising jolt to their marriage.
Fischer plays Lena, mom of three and unhappy wife of Hudson's Martin. So her story arc is already starting out very differently than the will-they-won't-they format of The Office, but there are even more differences. When Fischer was asked to compare the two projects during a taped segment that went live Tuesday, you might have expected the actors to try to steer the conversation elsewhere. And indeed, The Office actor did stumble for a second as she attempted to find her way to a rote answer.
The E! interviewer commented that Splitting Up Together was a "different type" of show for Fischer, compared to the setting that fans had seen her in before. "It is, I guess, yeah," she began to respond, before Hudson leaned way into the comparison with his own response — "Hashtag new Jim."
It's a bold comment, considering the passion behind The Office's fanbase, and Fischer's reaction reflected that. "Oh no! Oh, you threw it down!" she effused at her costar, throwing her head back in a laugh. In fact, both actors had trouble composing them after the thrown gauntlet of a statement. Hudson continued laughing throughout, and Fischer interrupted her own attempt to get the interview back on track by saying, "I can't believe you hashtagged #TheNewJim."
And she's not alone in that disbelief, if the fan response has been any indication. As Hudson points out in the interview, he'd used this hashtag before, on an Instagram photo of himself and Fischer on The Ellen Show. "Just look at how hard I’m making @msjennafischer laugh," he captioned the snap. "Jim NEVER made her feel this way.. EVER! #thenewjim."
It's an innocuous enough comment, but it's safe to say that the responses were pretty eye-opening for Hudson. "The comments, some of the comments were amazing," he told E! "People get angry. I mean, people are really, like, all-in still. Some of these comments were crazy, [saying things] like, 'I will kill you!'"
Obviously no one should be condoning that kind of threatening language, whether online or otherwise, but there's officially no denying that The Office was a formative comedy experience for a lot of people. And Jim and Pam are a huge part of that. As a TV show couple, they're close to people's hearts in a big way, and fans have big feelings about the suggestion that they could ever be replaced.
But all hashtags aside, no one is ever going to replace Jim or Pam, and more importantly, Splitting Up Together isn't trying to do that. As Fischer put it in her own words:
"This character is just as much me as Pam was me, so I've grown up, I've become a mother and a wife, and there are so many things about this character that I'm getting to express that I wasn't able to express with Pam. So I think it's gonna feel just as authentic, it's just a different side. And then the show itself, is like — this chemistry is just as fantastic, I promise.
You heard it here first, folks. The two shows are apples and oranges, and you don't have to choose one over the other. Jim and Pam are forever, and no one's touching that legacy, so just try to enjoy Fischer's new project for what it is, without holding it to the Beesly-Halpert Standard.