Jan Levinson

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Jan Levinson
The Office character
Jan.PNG
First appearance "Pilot"
Last appearance "Couples Discount" (voice only)
Created by Greg Daniels
Portrayed by Melora Hardin
Information
Nickname(s) Hillary Rodham Clinton, Godzillary, Ice Queen
Gender Female
Occupation Former Vice President of Sales, Dunder Mifflin
Family Unnamed sister
Spouse(s) Art Gould (ex-husband)
Significant other(s) Michael Scott (ex-boyfriend)
Children Astrid (daughter)
Based on Jennifer Taylor-Clarke

Janet "Jan" Levinson (formerly Levinson-Gould) is a recurring fictional character from the US television series The Office. Her counterpart in the UK version is Jennifer Taylor-Clarke. She is portrayed by Melora Hardin. She is the Vice President of Northeast Sales at the paper distribution company Dunder Mifflin, directly supervising central character and Regional Manager of Dunder Mifflin's Scranton branch, Michael Scott. Her character is notable for the dysfunctional relationship she enters with Michael following the second season episode, "The Client", up until the fourth season episode "Dinner Party". Michael and Jan's personas contrast to much humor in the series, particularly in their professional attitudes and social interactions, although Jan's erratic and sexually-domineering mental state of mind leads to her firing.

Biography[edit]

Jan Levinson-Gould as Vice President has a no-nonsense management style that is at odds with Michael's more casual approach. Since her office is in New York, Jan's contact with the Scranton branch is largely by telephone, although she will make the two-and-a-half-hour drive to Scranton if necessary. She usually asks if she's on camera when talking to Michael on the speaker phone, and Michael often lies and tells her she is not, before admitting that they are—at which point she hangs up on him. While initially based on Jennifer Taylor-Clarke from the UK version, her character develops in a different direction.

In a deleted scene from "Dinner Party," it is implied that Jan grew up in West Virginia. The "Serenity by Jan" website indicates that she had an unhappy childhood and ran away from home, and she once said that her family refused to speak to her anymore "on advice of counsel".

She initially drives a Volvo S80 and Volvo S60, and trades it in with Michael's Sebring for a shared Porsche Boxster. However, she is seen in season five with a Toyota Highlander. She smokes in stressful situations and indulges in self-destructive tendencies with poor judgment in spite of her inherent competence and professional attitude. She demonstrates a strong and often fetishist sexuality which sometimes intimidates Michael, such as when he revealed in "Women's Appreciation" that Jan did not always abide by their safety word "foliage". It is implied that she may have taken the virginity of her assistant, Hunter, of whom Michael is jealous.

Character arc[edit]

Season 1-2[edit]

Jan is introduced in the pilot episode of the series. As Vice President, her authority leads her to inform Michael (Steve Carell) of the impending downsizing or closure Scranton's branch faces.[1] She continually reappears both over phone and in person over each season to assert corporate policy on Michael, specifically with health care plans,[2] sexual harassment concerns,[3] and downsizing.[4]

Her character is expanded upon, and changes in tone during one episode, at which Michael and she attend a business meeting at a Chili's with a highly-valuable potential client. References to her seeing a psychiatrist following a difficult divorce after her lover did not want to have children and a case of identity theft are made. The end of the episode portrays her having an intimate moment with Michael.[5] Michael's attempts at a meaningful relationship stemming from that night are rejected, however Jan open-endedly says that she is not ready for a relationship.[6] Her appearances in the second season during a 'women in the workplace' seminar[7] and a financial presentation with CFO David Wallace (Andy Buckley)[8] continue this rejection, despite Michael's advances. However, upon being invited by Michael to the company casino night, she is emotionally hurt by the presence of his other date, Carol Stills (Nancy Carell), and hastily leaves; an overnight bag in her Volvo is seen. It is highly implied Jan has developed feelings for Michael.[9]

Season 3[edit]

In the third season premiere, Jan becomes responsible for the transfer of Jim Halpert (John Krasinski) to the Stamford branch, interviewing him in an earlier episode of the second season[10] as well as negotiating a paid three-month vacation and Lexus company car to accountant Oscar Martinez (Oscar Nunez) when Michael ignorantly outs him.[11] Her next encounter with Michael is at a Philadelphia-held convention, although she plays a more pivotal role when Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson) contacts her in an attempt to be promoted to branch manager at Michael's expense, to which Jan refuses.[12] She has a speaking role in a following episode when Michael faces grief over the death of the branch manager he replaced,[13] and instructs Pam Beesly (Jenna Fischer) in another to keep note of Michael's activities.[14]

After several episodes referring to downsizing, it ultimately leads to Jan planning to merge Scranton into Stamford, with some employees being laid off and the rest transferred- her plans are frustrated when Josh Porter (Charles Esten), whom she planned on becoming the manager of the merged branches, leverages the position with Staples into a senior management position there. This development influences Jan into merging Stamford in with Scranton instead.[15][16] She has a speaking role when one of the Stamford employees is identified as a reformed criminal (Wayne Wilderson).[17]

Following a Christmas party, Michael calls an unknown woman to invite her to Sandals Resorts Jamaica.[18] The fact that that woman was Jan is exposed to the rest of the office when Michael accidentally forwards a risqué photo of her tanning to the entire office, although she herself does not have the email forwarded to her.[19] The relationship between Jan and Michael becomes official when David Wallace hosts a cocktail party. The duo attend as a couple after disclosing their relationship to HR; Michael immediately declaring loudly "I love this woman!" shortly after. Jan demonstrates a sexually aggressive attitude and indifference toward the party itself during the course of the episode.[20] Michael references their relationship when he negotiates with Jan for a 12% raise.[21]

When Michael has a "women's appreciation day", his conversations with the office women lead him to discuss Jan's radical sexual preferences, including recording their intimacy and playing it with a therapist to improve "his form." He realizes his unhappiness with her and breaks up.[22] In the season finale, during which Michael interviews for a corporate position, Jan attempts a reunion. Michael, despite urgings from all women Scranton in the office (except Meredith, from whom Michael declined to seek advice) to the contrary, and in his amazement at Jan's breast augmentation, agrees to get back together with Jan. Unfortunately, the corporate position for which Michael, Jim, and Karen are interviewing is Jan's; after being absent from work, abusing corporate policies, and being in Scranton far too often, Jan is fired and escorted from the building in New York, and is replaced by Ryan Howard (B.J. Novak)[23]

Season 4-5[edit]

Season four has Jan moving into Michael's condo and starting a scented candle business. Her spending drains Michael's resources, leading to a brief scheme in which Michael attempts to escape his troubles by leaving town. She also sues Dunder Mifflin, claiming wrongful dismissal, largely over her breast implants, although Michael is betrayed by Jan, who uses his private diary as evidence that the company mistreats its employees, and also learning that she gave him a scathing performance review while they were dating. In response, Michael sides with the company in the dispute, straining their relationship.[24] Following this, during a dinner party, the two fight over each other's eccentricities and Jan throws a Dundie Award at his cheap plasma television before breaking down and almost becoming arrested. The two split up, Michael leaving with Dwight, and staying at Schrute Farm for weeks until Jan packed up all her stuff and moved away for good.[25]

Jan is seen again in the fourth season finale, in which she is revealed to be pregnant by artificial insemination.[26] Although initially agreeing to help her with the child by joining her for Lamaze classes, Michael feels no connection to the child, Astrid, at the office baby shower. Jan also insists Michael not go out with Holly, leading Michael to promptly and successfully ask Holly out on a date.

Seasons 7-9[edit]

Jan is not seen again until the seventh season, by which time she is employed in hospital administration, raises Astrid as a single mother and has recorded a Doris Day cover album. She tells him at great length that they were never a good couple and she was slumming by ever dating him; an angry Michael shocks her by saying (wrongly as it turned out) that he has herpes, and later expresses disbelief that he thought she could have been "the one". She reappeared on the show in a cameo scene in Michael's self-produced movie "Threat Level Midnight", playing a covert agent jazz singer named Jasmine Windsong who slips key information to Agent Michael Scarn and gets killed by an assassin. When the documentary crew approaches Jan about the movie, she pretends to be proud of Michael's finished film, and looks disgusted as she makes a hasty attempt to get her dry cleaning into her car and get away from both the cameras and any mention of Michael. Jan did not appear in the eighth season.

In the ninth season episode "The Whale", Jan is again in Scranton, in a phone company job responsible for the White Pages. Dwight and Pam make the sales call in her office, initially unaware that she is the contact. Jan had no intention of giving Dunder-Mifflin her business, and had intended to refuse Wallace (now the owner and CEO of Dunder-Mifflin) personally in retaliation for firing her, and was dismayed when Dwight and Pam arrived instead.

Nevertheless Dwight keeps her from refusing by assigning Customer Service representative Clark Green (Clark Duke) as her personal liaison. The two then traveled abroad for several weeks. In "Suit Warehouse", Clark returns to the office, having gotten Jan to sign on as a client after spending several weeks in Europe as her lover. He compared sex with Jan to sex with "a swarm of bees... bees that just find something wrong with every hotel room". Jan also sent an espresso machine back with Clark as a gift to the staff.

In Jan's final appearance on the show (albeit over the phone) "Couples Discount", Andy Bernard (Ed Helms) (now branch manager), pointed out that Dwight had offered a price point without getting Andy's approval (something that would've been impossible for Dwight to do, as Andy himself was sailing abroad at the time), and attempted to renegotiate Dunder-Mifflin's contract with the White Pages. An infuriated Jan proceeds to terminate her contract with Dunder-Mifflin altogether.

In "Finale", it is mentioned that Dwight (who succeeded Andy as manager) managed to reacquire the White Pages' business.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gervais, Ricky and Merchant, Stephen. (writers) & Kwapis, Ken (director), "Pilot". The Office, NBC. Aired on March 24, 2005.
  2. ^ Lieberstein, Paul (writer) & Whittingham, Ken. (director), "Health Care". The Office, NBC. Aired on April 5, 2005.
  3. ^ Novak, B.J. (writer) & Kwapis, Ken. (director), "Sexual Harassment". The Office, NBC. Aired on September 27, 2005.
  4. ^ Daniels, Greg (writer) & Feig, Paul. (director), "Halloween". The Office, NBC. Aired on October 18, 2005.
  5. ^ Lieberstein, Paul (writer) & Daniels, Greg. (director), "The Client". The Office, NBC. Aired on November 8, 2005.
  6. ^ Wilmore, Larry. (writer) & Feig, Paul. (director), "Performance Review". The Office, NBC. Aired on November 15, 2005.
  7. ^ Novak, B.J. (writer) & Gordon, Dennie. (director), "Boys and Girls". The Office, NBC. Aired on April 5, 2005.
  8. ^ Schur, Michael (writer) & Daniels, Greg (director), "Valentine's Day". The Office, NBC. Aired on October 18, 2005.
  9. ^ Carell, Steve (writer) & Kwapis, Ken. (director), "Casino Night". The Office, NBC. Aired on May 11, 2006.
  10. ^ Daniels, Greg (writer) & McDougall, Charles. (director), "Conflict Resolution". The Office, NBC. Aired on May 4, 2006.
  11. ^ Daniels, Greg (writer) & Kwapis, Ken. (director), "Gay Witch Hunt". The Office, NBC. Aired on September 21, 2006.
  12. ^ Lieberstein, Paul (writer) & Daniels, Greg. (director), "The Coup". The Office, NBC. Aired on October 5, 2006.
  13. ^ Celotta, Jennifer (writer) & Nygard, Roger. (director), "Grief Counseling". The Office, NBC. Aired on October 12, 2006.
  14. ^ Novak, B.J. (writer) & Einhorn, Randall. (director), "Initiation". The Office, NBC. Aired on October 19, 2006.
  15. ^ Schur, Michael (writer) & Gates, Tucker. (director), "Branch Closing". The Office, NBC. Aired on November 9, 2006.
  16. ^ Forrester, Brent (writer) & Whittingham, Ken. (director), "The Merger". The Office, NBC. Aired on November 16, 2006.
  17. ^ Gervais, Ricky and Merchant, Stephen (writers) & Blitz, Jeffrey. (director), "The Convict". The Office, NBC. Aired on November 30, 2006.
  18. ^ Celotta, Jennifer (writer) & Ramis, Harold. (director), "A Benihana Christmas". The Office, NBC. Aired on December 14, 2006.
  19. ^ Spitzer, Justin (writer) & Farino, Julian. (director), "Back from Vacation". The Office, NBC. Aired on January 4, 2007.
  20. ^ Lieberstein, Paul (writer) & Abrams, J.J.. (director), "Cocktails". The Office, NBC. Aired on February 22, 2007.
  21. ^ Schur, Michael (writer) & Blitz, Jeffrey. (director), "The Negotiation". The Office, NBC. Aired on April 5, 2007.
  22. ^ Stupnitsky, Gene and Eisenberg, Lee (writers) & Gates, Tucker. (director), "Women's Appreciation". The Office, NBC. Aired on May 3, 2007.
  23. ^ Lieberstein, Paul and Schur, Michael (writers) & Kwapis, Ken. (director), "The Job". The Office, NBC. Aired on May 17, 2007.
  24. ^ Lewis, Lester (writer) & Farino, Julian. (director), "The Deposition". The Office, NBC. Aired on November 15, 2007.
  25. ^ Stupnitsky, Gene and Eisenberg, Lee (writers) & Feig, Paul. (director), "Dinner Party". The Office, NBC. Aired on April 10, 2008.
  26. ^ Celotta, Jennifer and Lieberstein, Paul (writers) & Feig, Paul. (director), "Goodbye, Toby". The Office, NBC. Aired on May 15, 2008.