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Transmutation: A Character Study - Michael Scott (The Office)

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“The Office,” which aired on NBC from 2004-2013, will always be remembered as a great comedy. It was such a refreshing change of pace from other sitcoms. Through its nine season run, the show comfortably settled into millions of hearts.

But the heart of the show? Most definitely Michael Scott. Kudos to Steve Carell because no other actor would’ve pulled off the complexity, expressions, line deliveries, emotions for Michael Scott like he did.

As the annoying, tactless regional manager in Scranton, Pennsylvania, for paper company Dunder Mifflin, Michael always managed to create such an impression on his employees and on the audience. When I say he started off the show as a prickly fella who made almost all of his employees cringe, I’m not exaggerating at all. Michael had to be all that he was in order to add to the dry humor of the show.

Michael, in the beginning of the series, could easily be boxed into the obnoxious boss stereotype. He had a knack for making everyone around him uncomfortable, whether through mean jokes or by acting transparently selfish. Instead, “The Office” made you fall in love with the other characters. There was the budding love story between office receptionist Pam Beesly and salesman Jim Halpert. There was the suck-up-to-the-boss guy Dwight Schrute. There were a slew of comical, wacky employees, as well. Each of them had their own relationships with Michael. None were really good at the start.

The thing about Michael was he was so intent on impressing his employees and trying to get them to like him, he often didn’t care or realize he was being rude and offensive. We see small glimpses into the grown-up Michael Scott at times, too. He’s a nuanced character and you understand that at the core, this guy just wants to be loved and accepted and will do almost anything to make sure that happens, even if it means making a fool of himself.

Luckily, as the show grew, so did Michael. While season 1 focused on deadpan humor, the later seasons really dug deep in terms of character development, especially for Michael. He developed a unique, personal relationship with everyone in the office. You got to see that despite what he was on the outside, he was someone who deeply cared for his employees. Dunder Mifflin was his family.

Sure, he still had some super cringy moments. Like, he wanted everyone to celebrate his birthday on an ice skating rink even though his employee Kevin was waiting to hear from his doctor about possibly having skin cancer. Or in “Scott’s Tots,” when he had to break to a bunch of kids graduating from high school that he wouldn’t actually pay for their college tuition as he had promised them 10 years ago. Let's not forget he ran over Meredith in the parking lot.

BUT with every step he took in the wrong direction, he took two more in the right direction and had an equally great number of amazing moments that truly showed how much he grew over the years, with much help from those around his, who started loving him for who he is. He helped Ryan get off drugs. When Jim admitted to Michael about his crush on Pam on the booze cruise, he advised him to never give up on her. He grew to be more and more relatable and it become easy to sympathize with him, especially when he found out his ex-boss Ed Truck died and removed all his grief on a dead bird instead.

The greatest sign of Michael's character development, however, is how his relationships developed.

With Dwight: Dwight was his right hand man but Michael always ignored him or used him based on his convenience but over time, the two grew to be great friends and they really got each other. I mean, he came back to be the "bestest mensch" at Dwight's wedding in the finale. Truly, the best prank ever.

With Pam: These two had a beautiful friendship, too, which began as a working relationship with Pam as his receptionist. I always felt that she was the one who truly understood him and loved him anyway. Their best moment? When Michael visits her at the art exhibition and genuinely complements her artwork, buying her painting of the office building. It was so subtle but it showed that Michael actually paid great attention to everyone.

With Jim: For the first few seasons, it always felt that Jim didn't respect Michael as his boss. He clearly only worked there to try and win over Pam. Over time, they bonded quite a lot and in fact, Jim's goodbye to Michael as "the best boss I ever had" is my favorite and always brings me to tears.

With Holly: Clearly, these two were meant to be. She was almost a female version of Michael. They may have been on and off for a while, but Michael didn't lose hope in the face of aversions and proposed beautifully to her.

With Jan: I mention Jan because her scenes with Michael were probably the most hilarious moments on the show. Whether as colleagues or lovers, their chemistry was insanely great in terms of humor. From endlessly pursuing her, letting her mooch off of him, to finally leaving her...growth! A ton of character growth. "Dinner Party" and "The Deposition" are some of the funniest episodes of "The Office."

And this applies to everyone because like I said, Michael developed unique relationships with everyone on the show including Ryan, Erin, Andy, Phyllis, Oscar, and of course, Toby.

Michael leaving the show towards the end of season 7 created a huge dent in the show and his absence was felt greatly. Not that the show diminished a lot in terms of quality, but you could tell just how much Steve Carell brought the show.

His final two episodes were beautiful. Look up the song "998600 minutes" if you don't believe me. His last episode as a series regular, "Goodbye Michael," was the perfect end to his journey.

Michael Scott grew to be one of the most beloved characters of the show because the audience went on this journey of sorts with him as he went through lots of ups and downs professionally and personally, became great friends with everyone at work, proved he’s a badass salesman, and accomplished everything he wanted in life when he fell in love with Holly Flax and went on to move to Colorado with her, eventually marrying and having kids with her.

I’m glad he brought Michael back for the finale so we get to learn about his life after Scranton and Dunder Mifflin. He got the happy ending he wanted and deserved.

What's your favorite and cringiest Michael Scott memory?

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