25 Inimitable Men 9/25
Michael Scott (The Office)
Best. Boss. Ever. The Office’s Michael Scott is singlehandedly the most flawed, often-problematic character to ever exist, but his heart is bigger than every mistake he could make, and I don’t know of a person who doesn’t agree that he’s one of the best characters ever written. The thing is, you can’t not love Michael Scott — as crazy and as neurotic as he can be, the amount of compassion within him is endless. (Unless you’re Toby Flenderson.) I’ll be frank, during The Office’s first season, I didn’t understand his character’s quirks at all. I couldn’t see why he was so adored because his blatantly stupid comments were a distraction. However, as the season progressed, I began to understand so much of what goes on inside of him that by the time he was leaving Dunder Mifflin, I cried for two days. Seriously no matter how many times I rewatch The Office, I will never rewatch “Goodbye, Michael.” Never. And that’s kind of the greatest thing about this character, you don’t realize the moment he grows on you and though his actions may bring forth a ton of secondhand embarrassment, you can’t help but appreciate him anyway. Michael Scott isn’t a fantastic character because he’s got a wide array of fantastic traits, he’s fantastic because he’s often unexplainable, complex, and remarkably unique.
Michael’s actions are often so unexplainable, so bizarre, you just don’t even bother, you laugh. You laugh because he has absolutely no idea what he means when he says things like “I declare bankruptcy” or “Dwight, you ignorant slut.” Michael Scott isn’t exactly a character that needs to be understood but rather a character that needs to be admired for just how ridiculous he could possibly be. But the reality is that Michael says those things with the belief that he’s being helpful. It’s so deeply embedded in him that he must be the best boss in the world that often times when he’s under the impression that he’s doing something good, it’s actually the exact opposite. But here’s the thing I appreciate most about Michael — there’s an immeasurable amount of innocence in him in spite of the fact that almost everything he says appears to be flat-out idiotic. Michael’s humor isn’t similar to his coworkers’ — he isn’t as sarcastic as Jim or Dwight. He’s certainly no Ryan either, but because he wants to be able to keep conversations with them, he attempts to match what they have and at times, falls flat. But if that’s not what makes him one of TV’s most hysterical characters to exist, then I don’t know what is.
Michael’s attempt at a humor aside, what’s often gotten to me is how attentive he is to his coworkers. And though it doesn’t always work in their benefit, the fact that he notices so much about what they say and what they do showcases the very fact that he isn’t doing this job for rank or praise, but rather because he genuinely cares about the company, and the people in it. And that compassion is oddly the thing that’s often gotten him into trouble because once again his innocence comes in to play. Michael’s not aware of a lot of things that occur and because he wants to consistently be a helping hand, he takes drastic approaches in doing so. For instance, calling Stanley’s wife or setting up the intervention for Meredith. The reality is that he wants everyone to be their absolute best selves, but he takes all the wrong approaches in making them happen thereby, making him a ridiculously unique, heartfelt character. You can’t be mad at Michael for things like this because you know that his intentions are never malicious but rather, they come from a place of genuine adoration and concern. They come straight from his heart.
Additionally, where Michael could be naïve and wrong, when it comes to giving advice that needs to be serious, he’s never once failed. Michael’s actions have always matched his words allowing the audience to truly see that behind the attempts to appear cool, this is a man with a lot of wisdom and heart to share. I’ve always appreciated the fact that when it came down to Jim and Pam’s relationship, he could see things they weren’t able to. He could see that Roy wasn’t right for Pam. He could see that Karen wasn’t right for Jim. And he could even see that Holly was with the wrong man, and while I didn’t always agree with how he approached Holly’s relationship, it was easy to appreciate the fact that he knew where he needed to step back. He understood his mistakes easily and he learned from them. He often sacrificed his own happiness for the sake of his coworkers because at the end of the day, he knew that beyond wanting to be the best boss ever, he just wanted to be their friend. His outbursts were almost always due to the fact that when realizing he’s in the wrong, he wasn’t sure how to react.
I knew Michael Scott was one of my all time favorite characters to exist when he was the only one to show up to Pam’s art show. And in that scene, he did something I didn’t expect him to — he bought her work for their office. He bought her work because he sincerely believed that it was a masterpiece. Thus, in doing so, he proved that when he looks at a person, he doesn’t see their flaws or their weakness, he sees the greatness that’s within and it’s a greatness worthy of praise. Michael Scott has always wanted people to see the best in themselves because he couldn’t easily see it within himself and that kind of selflessness is a rare gem in the world. It’s the kind of rare gem only a brilliant actor with Steve Carrell’s inimitable gifts could bring to life, and he did so flawlessly. Carrell’s work as Michael was so unparalleled, so groundbreaking that when he left, until the very moment he returned, you felt the emptiness. There was not a single episode where he wasn’t missed. And the fact that he’s never received an Emmy for the award will be something I’ll complain about for the rest of my life. Best Boss Ever, indeed.
There are too many, there’s no way I’m picking just three.