Ryan and Kelly’s Dysfunctional Relationship

17 Sep

It’s no secret that characters Ryan Howard and Kelly Kapoor have a less than perfect relationship. However, the true spectacle is how exactly things got that way in the first place. If viewers recall Kelly from season 1, they will remember a relatively quiet, reserved young woman who did her job just like any other character on the show. In response to Michael‘s blatantly racist comments in “Diversity Day” of season 1, including remarks about Indians in relation to convenience stores, she slaps Michael and leaves the room. This is a vast difference from the Kelly of future seasons who is an avid attention seeker.

Perhaps one of the most obvious indicators of the change viewers see from Kelly would be in her outfits. She trades in the mute-colored, conservative pant-based outfits of season 1 for brightly colored skirts and tops. Although Ryan has been apart of The Office since the very first episode, he and Kelly do not start becoming involved until season 2. Kelly first expresses interest in “The Carpet” when, in the middle of reciting her interest in brainless things such as snocones and hotdogs, she begs Jim to ask Ryan if he likes her. Although Ryan reciprocates her feelings, their intentions could not be more different. Kelly eagerly says she wants a long term relationship with a future of marriage and babies, while Ryan wants nothing more than to “hang out”. From the get go, the pairing of Ryan and Kelly could not be more flawed.

As Kelly and Ryan continue to date, at least in Kelly’s mind, multiple events throughout the seasons show viewers how skewed their relationship really is. In the season 3 finale “The Job” Ryan abruptly breaks up with Kelly when he receives a promotion at corporate Dunder Mifflin. He nonchalantly declares that he is still single although Kelly foolishly says that she has a man, while holding onto his arm. Ryan even asks Kelly for money and one last hook up after breaking up with her before he goes on a trip to Thailand. On the other hand, Kelly picks post-corporate Ryan up for dates, repairs his car and even ended her relationship with Darryl Philbin, the warehouse foreman, to be with Ryan. While their relationship is certainly unstable, the continuous quirks of Ryan and Kelly have come to be an entertaining part of the series.


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