With the series finale of “The Office” approaching, Zap2it is looking back at some of the best, most important and most uncomfortable episodes in the show’s nine-year history. Look for a list of five each week leading up to the May 16 finale.
Michael Scott (Steve Carell) could be incredibly sweet and even good at his job, on those rare occasions when he got out of his own way. It was those occasions (and Carell’s natural nice-guy charm) that helped fans of the show get through the many, many more times that Michael was some combination of clueless, needy, boorish and selfish. As Phyllis puts it in the Season 7 episode “Counseling,” “Michael has a lot of issues — plus he’s stupid.”
Michael had a lot of cringe-worthy moments over the course of Carell’s seven seasons on the show, but these five take the cake. In reverse order, from least to most objectionable:
“Gossip” (Season 6, episode 1): Wanting (badly) to be part of the office gossip mill, Michael floats that Stanley is having an affair — which he is. He’s then mortified at what he’s done and spreads other rumors about most of the rest of the staff, including one (Pam’s pregnant) that is actually true. Pam and Jim fall on the sword to save Stanley some humiliation, which works … until Michael speaks to Stanley’s wife on the phone and calls her by the other woman’s name. At least he was trying to do the right thing for part of the time here.
“Diversity Day” (Season 1, episode 2): The pilot for “The Office” was essentially a re-creation of the British show’s first episode, but “Diversity Day,” while echoing the U.K. episode “Training,” shows the cast and writers getting a handle on their characters apart from the parent show. For Michael, that means not understanding — at all — why it’s not cool for him to quote a Chris Rock bit about race, then proceeding to insult Kelly to the point where she slaps him.
“The Injury” (Season 2, episode 12): One of the funniest episodes in the show’s history revolves around Michael making waaay too much of the ridiculous injury he suffers: burning his foot on a George Foreman grill as he attempts to cook his morning bacon. That he would be a baby about it, fans would come to expect. That he would then attempt to equate his mishap with an actual disability, and get upset that Dwight’s very real concussion was stealing attention from him, puts “The Injury” in the pantheon of Bad Michael behavior.
“Phyllis’ Wedding” (Season 3, episode 16): “It’s a big day for Phyllis, but it’s an even bigger day for me.” That’s how Michael describes his very small role in his employee’s wedding to Bob Vance, and when Phyllis’ dad upstages him by walking down the aisle on his own rather than Michael pushing his wheelchair, he spends the entire night trying to reclaim the spotlight. A lot of great things happen in this episode, which helps cut the squirm factor for Michael’s bratty antics some, but still, his behavior is awfully hard to excuse.
“Scott’s Tots” (Season 6, episode 12): Michael at his most irredeemable. Promising 15 kids a college education, then utterly failing both to deliver and to tell the kids he couldn’t deliver, is just awful. Adding insult to injury, he gives them laptop batteries. Not the actual computers, mind you, but just batteries. Oof.
What are your favorite Bad Michael moments?