If you’ve been watching The Office lately, you’ve undoubtedly become acquainted with Cathy Simms, the newest addition to the Dundler Mifflin team in Scranton. Played by Lindsey Broad, Cathy first appears in the current season’s seventh episode. The office admin Pam Halpert – about to give birth to her second child — begins training Cathy to temporarily replace her while she’s on maternity leave. Her presence in the workplace seems benign at first, although Dwight, Gabe and Ryan are taken by her looks.
But Cathy’s intentions toward Jim (Pam’s husband) seemingly become clear (it could be a bait and switch***) during the last seconds of the “Special Project” episode three weeks ago. She’s heading to Tallahassee with a handful of other employees for said special project, and is seen talking into her phone: “Yeah, Jim’s gonna be there. That marriage is not good. No one knows better than me. Definitely, we will. It’s three weeks in Tallahassee, what else is there to do?”
On last week’s episode, Cathy (pictured to the right) finally makes her move. Pretending that hotel maintenance is working on her room, she ends up in Jim’s room in boxer shorts and eventually attempts to cuddle with him, dressed only in a bathrobe. Jim didn’t take the bait and remained faithful to his pregnant wife.
But since the Cathy story line was such a strong one last week, I wanted to find out more about Broad, the woman behind the character; I get the feeling we’ll be seeing a lot more of her. I especially wanted to know what Office fans thought of her character, seeing as Jim and Pam are one of the most beloved sitcom couples in television history.
“The people who send messages directly to me have been really nice and really positive,” Broad told me this week. “But there’s other people who hate Cathy. People really hate her. And people hated her before she even did anything. I think it was just the threat of her. People were intensely angry. Hopefully it doesn’t come back to bite me in the face.”
A quick search on Tumblr, notably here and here, yields an unhealthy amount of anti-Cathy sentiment. One woman calls Cathy a “fucking whore” while another fan says “I wanna shoot her.” Still, another viewer promises: “Cathy, I’m going to end you.”
“There’s a lot of vitriol and a lot of people taking out their aggression on Cathy,” Broad says. “I think, that, in itself is fun. I think people like to have someone to hate. Or I hope they do.”
Maybe it’s because I’m a guy and I’m sick in the head and maybe I’m in the minority here, but I don’t hate the character and I kind of wanted Jim and Cathy to hook up. I know. I’m a horrible person. “The first time I heard about Cathy’s intentions I got really freaked out,” Broad tells me, adding that as a fan of the show she was hesitant to play someone who might possibly come between Jim and Pam. “But then [producer, writer, co-star] Mindy [Kaling] said to me, “Don’t worry, I promise we’re going to make it really funny.” And indeed, Kaling and co., made it incredibly funny, in my humble opinion.
***I’m also not entirely convinced that phone call three episodes ago was what it sounded like. Maybe Cathy is a budding shrink or marriage counselor and her assertion that “no one knows better than me” about Pam and Jim’s struggling relationship is a reference to her sharp analytic skills? You never know. And we’ll just have to watch to see how it pans out.
Before she landed her recurring role on The Office, Broad actually auditioned last season for the part of Jordan Garfield (Cody Horn), the attractive gal Deangelo Vickers (Will Ferrell) hires to prove he wasn’t sexist. And before The Office Broad co-starred alongside Brad Garrett and Joely Fisher on Fox’s Til Death. You’ll also be able to see Broad playing high school student Lisa (kinda slutty, by Broad’s description) in 21 Jump Street (watch the trailer above, to the right) with Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum when it hits theaters March 16.
A new episode of The Office airs tonight at 9 pm ET on NBC.
UPDATE: March 2
A deleted scene from last night’s episode hints that Cathy is not yet done with Jim. Check it out.