Any fan of The Office who has ever dealt with the Transportation Security Administration will find a lot of similarities, and a lot to like, about the British series Borderline. Rather than riffing on the mundane and awkward hilarity of corporate daily life, Borderline mines an equally deep (and, at the moment, more politically relevant) vein: bureaucracies charged with enforcing immigration and customs law.
The mockumentary-style sitcom follows a small group of customs agents stationed at the fictional Northend International Airport as they deal with an overbearing boss, intolerable coworkers, and confounding orders from the Home Office. In one episode, the boss explains new security guidelines instructing them to give extra scrutiny to anyone who seems "out of the ordinary."
"What qualifies as 'out of the ordinary'?" asks Andy (Borderline's version of Pam Beasley, the relatively normal girl trapped with the coterie of weirdos), trying to expose the new directive for the thinly veiled racial profiling that it is.
"Well, like a man with a bomb," comes the obvious response, earning eyerolls from the agents—and the audience. One agent then uses the vague directive to detain an attractive female traveler until he's able to determine whether she's single and get her phone number.
Far from being patriotic soldiers in the war on terror, Borderline argues, the government agents stationed at our borders are no different from people everywhere working at jobs they hate just to pay the bills. The first season is now available on Netflix.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Borderline".