Michael Scott, like the majority of Steve Carell’s characters, has mostly played the role of the lovable loser on The Office, which wraps up its sixth season tonight on NBC. Michael would do or say something either without thought or with an innocent ignorance, but the audience would always find something redeemable in the character, sigh and then forgive him. Essentially he was treated as if he was a child. You would find your hallway wall covered in crayon, but you’d later discover he was only trying to write you a birthday card.
In this sixth season, however, we’re finding it harder and harder to look past Michael’s flawed actions. It’s been a long season (it started all the way back in September if you recall), so let’s do a little recapping. Early on in the season and shortly after Jim & Pam’s wedding we find out that Michael didn’t just hookup with Pam’s mother on their wedding night, but is currently dating her. It’s unfair to look at the storyline of a sitcom through the eyes of reality, but even in the TV world this was overstepping an established boundary. As if Michael’s actions weren’t already atrocious enough, two episodes later the writers have the new couple briefly win over Pam’s approval only to have it all come tumbling down within minutes as we suffer through Michael painfully breaking up with Pam’s mom during her own birthday lunch.
For whatever reason, most of us forgave him and we went on watching. Only a few episodes later and the writers tested the audience again. This is of course the Scott’s Tots episode. Ten years prior, Michael made a promise to a class of underprivileged kids that if they graduated high school he would pay their way through college. He originally made this promise on the basis that he would be a millionaire by then. By now we all know Michael is pretty much broke. In the season 3 episode The Negotiation we find out that he’s barely making more than Daryl in the warehouse. Not to mention sinking who knows how much money into both Jan in season 4 and then his own paper company in the season 5.
Needless to say after much thanks from the students as their graduation day comes near, Michael has to break the news that all he can provide for them are laptop batteries. We’re just about halfway through the season and I really don’t know how we can like this character any longer. Yes, Michael does try to make good by telling one kid that he’ll pay for his books every year and the characters he screws over were never developed in a way where we had a true emotional tie to, but come on. He was the driving force of these kids’ lives for 10 years! As much as we can blame his stupidity on such a blunder, this one comes at a cost that cannot be reversed like so many of his previous missteps.
Finally we reach last week’s episode, the second to last of the season. Also know as the death of Michael Scott as a human being, or The Chump if we’re going to go by episode names. After Michael previously found out that Donna wasn’t cheating on him, but she was in fact cheating on her husband with Michael, they continue their relationship. This in itself is actually not the worst thing he has done. I was almost okay with it within the context of the show. Maybe Michael would learn some great lesson at the end of it. But that was not to be. The writers had to make the whole situation that much more appalling, putting Michael Scott in a hole I don’t think he can redeem himself out of. He gets called out by his office and only rebuts that Stanley and Phyllis had their own stint with infidelity themselves. And even slams Andy for being oblivious to Angela, his fiancée at the time, and Dwight’s relationship from the previous season. The last straw is when Michael returns from being forced to interact with Donna’s husband and shows even less remorse, eventually referring to himself as a James Bond type of guy. His return below.