Here's why "Dinner Party" was the best episode in the history of The Office. The memorable episode aired during April 2008 and was written by Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky. "Dinner Party" was the thirteenth episode of The Office season 4 and was notably directed by Paul Feig.
The episode began with the Dunder Mifflin employees disgruntled at the fact that Corporate made them work late on a Friday night. In reality, it was all a ploy set up by Michael Scott (Steve Carell) so that Jim and Pam (John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer) would cancel their plans, making them available for a dinner party at his condo. The reluctantly agreed to attend, along with Andy (Ed Helms), Angela (Angela Kinsey), Dwight (Rainn Wilson), and Dwight's date, Melvina (Beth Grant), who also happened to be his old babysitter. The awkward night unveiled Michael and Jan's (Melora Hardin) toxic relationship and hatred for one another.
"Dinner Party" was the first episode of The Office to air following the WGA Writer's Strike. Development was finished prior to the strike and the creative team couldn't wait to get the episode on the air. Thankfully, the episode survived the ordeal and it went on to become one of the most critically-acclaimed episodes in The Office's history. But it wasn't just favorable reactions from critics and audiences; the cast loved "Dinner Party" just as much. The episode even won Feig the Directors' Guild Award that year. Looking back on the episode, there's no doubt that it still holds up as the best throughout The Office's nine seasons.
That Michael was able to outsmart Jim and Pam to get them to come for dinner truly set the tone for the episode. It was an amusing change of scenery to focus on Michael's condo rather than the office workplace, although it ended up rather unsettling. Indeed, the tour given by Michael and Jan was one of the best sequences in the episode. Jan had always been seen as having a no-nonsense, type-A personality but it was clear that she became unhinged after losing her Corporate job at Dunder Mifflin.
The Office cast had attributed to the episode's success to the hilarious writing team (via Rolling Stone). The script was incredibly tight, with little room for improvizing, and the actors couldn't keep it together during the table read. John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, Ed Helms, and Angela Kinsey have recalled a number of scenes that were nearly impossible to get through: the revelation that Michael slept on a chaise lounge at the foot of the bed; Michael's tiny flatscreen TV; and Jan dancing to Hunter's song. The latter was the only major scene that was improvised by Melora Hardin because she wanted Krasinski's reaction to her dancing to be genuine.
Just by getting a look into Michael's home life, there was a new complicated layer added to his character. He was in a very dysfunctional relationship and his co-workers realized how much torture Jan inflicted on Michael. He revealed that she made him get a vasectomy three times and even worried that Jan poisoned his food. By the end of the night, even the cops were called. The extended cut of the episode was even darker thanks to deleted scenes detailing the warning signs surrounding Jan. "Dinner Party" may have been a change of pace compared to other episodes in The Office, but it played on the show's best strengths.