Now, I don't have a problem with people reflecting the monotony of office life or mid-life crises. The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin did it marvellously, precisely because it exaggerated the monotony including the repeated train delays, the boss who always says different sage-like words in the same ways, but also, that the protagonist created comedy from the drama of breaking out from it.
But I think this Guardian piece has illuminated why people like it:-
The Office still feels unique in its commitment to the bleak monotony of the average British working day. "We didn't want anything sexy or cool," Ricky said in last night's interview. The sea of bored, distracted faces, the greyness of the soulless strip-lit set and the repetition of deadly dull punctuating images like a churning photocopier created a sitcom environment which still strikes me as unusually authentic in 2009.
In other words, The Office is part of the rockist ideology to that writer.
To anyone not familiar with rockism, I will try to explain. Rockism was originally termed by the singer Pete Wylie to describe the belief that some forms of music are more authentic than others, and therefore more worthy. It comes from the desire of people to show how smart, clever or part of a particular group they are by their musical choices, rather than enjoying music for what it is (the best example of rockism around is Later With Jools Holland which eschews pop music for dull-yet-worthy world music).
So, back to The Office, is it just that people like it for that reason? That liking The Office says something about them? That instead of watching something funny like TV Burp or whatever Peter Kay has produced, they'd rather demonstrate how hip and clever they are?