Was Michael Scott in the office really that bad of a person

I was recently watching clips of the episode where Michael was dating Pams mom and both Pam and Jim treated it like it was the worst thing on earth.

But was Michael really that bad? He was fairly good looking, he had a stable good paying job. He genuinely cared about the people around him. He was family oriented. He was socially awkward but in a world full of assholes and abusers, being awkward isn’t that big of a deal.

However I watched the office years and years ago, I’ve forgotten much of the actual plots. I do remember when Pam had her art exhibit that Michael was the only person who showed up and showed genuine respect and appreciation for her art. Everyone else skipped it or made fun of her.

I don’t remember the minute details of the show, was Michael really that bad or was he just a generally good person who was just awkward?

My take: I wouldn’t want my mom dating a man-baby like Michael. He’s not a bad person per se, just really, really immature. That would be my problem with it, and may have contributed to Jim and Pam’s reservations.

ETA: Also, he’s not shy about sharing his sexual exploits with people at work, or at least embellishing his sexual exploits. That would be awkward.

He was incompetent, clueless, and a horrible leader. All the worst things for a boss, but traits that might be tolerable in a friend.

Michael ended up dumping Pam’s mom on her birthday when he learned her age, proving Pam and Jim right.

Thanks. I was watching clips and not the whole episode, that adds perspective.

What we learned at some point is that Michael really wanted to be a father (partly because his own childhood was so lonely), and I’m guessing that wasn’t possible with Pam’s mother. So he had legitimate reasons for concern, even if he acted poorly.

And arrogant, ignorant and absent any sense of boundaries, too.

Cluelessly racist, too.

Yeah, there are two questions one might ask: Was he a bad person? and Was he a bad boss?

I think it’s clear he was always meant to be a bad boss. As a person, he was unquestionably flawed, in ways that helped to make him a bad boss. It’s an open question whether his flaws made him a bad person or just, as @Happy_Lendervedder said, “not a bad person per se, just really, really immature.”

Personally, I think it would be possible to believably show him growing, maturing, becoming more self-aware, and becoming a genuinely good person. (Caveat: It’s been a while since I watched the show, and I’ve only seen some of the seasons.)

That’s a good summation. There were episodes where Michael was shown to be a good salesman and even a good manager at times. And while his immaturity and desire to be funny could lead him to be thoughtless and rude, when it came down to it he really did care about the people around him (at least those that he considered friends - Toby was another matter).

There was one episode where Jan is heard, in her capacity as a corporate manager, saying that Michael shouldn’t be heading a branch and ought to be back in sales where he belonged. Can’t argue with that. I see Michael as an embodiment of the Peter Principle - he was often in over his head as a manager and not well suited to the role.

But he wasn’t a bad person. That’s what made The Office interesting - they spent some time establishing several fairly cartoonish characters and then went about deconstructing them:

Jim turned out to not always be funny, unflappable and likeable.

Dwight had moments of lucidity despite his craziness, and turned out to have real feelings.

Andy, for all his shallowness, actually became likeable and sympathetic.

And Michael was kind of right about Toby - he could be a bit of an ass. :slight_smile:

I think Michael kind of changed over time, too. He definitely has a streak of clueless insensitivity that never goes away, but aside from Toby Michael is almost never deliberately cruel, just unintentionally so, and in situations where he realizes his behavior has hurt someone’s feelings he usually shows contrition.

Season 1 Michael was a lot closer to the UK Office’s David Brin, who I think was much meaner spirited than Michael, but they realized early on that a long running sitcom that was doing 20-22 episodes a season, a David Brin knock off just was a little too much for the audience.

In the end he became a good person and Holly was lucky to have him. Even then he was still goofy, but his character changed at the end to be less immature.

Throughout the course of the show they point out he’s awkward because he’s never included because he’s awkward. That sad cycle was brought up when he was on that kids show and said, “when I get older I am going to have lots of kids so I’ll have friends and they can’t say no to being my friend”.

Edgar R. Meow’s reaction was just right.

I think they did establish some growth at one point… In the company picnic episode he shows an extreme level of maturity about Holly who was dating someone else but there were still sparks between them. He didn’t act like a baby about it at all; he was totally cool with her boyfriend and didn’t even bring up the possibility of them getting back together even though he really wanted it to happen. In fact, he’d even planned to try to woo her back originally…

I lied to Kevin. Holly and I can never be just friends. I wrote down, a list of bullet points, why Holly and I should be together and I’m going to find the perfect moment today and I’m gonna tell her. [quickly looks at crinkled note] Number one, “Holly, you and I are soup snakes.” The-- and the reason is-- because, in terms of the soup we like to eat-- That doesn’t make any sense. [checks note again] We’re soulmates! Holly and I are soulmates.

But then after spending time with her he mellowed out and acted like an adult about everything. Even more than that, he showed a kind of wisdom and maturity that’s rare in anyone.

I didn’t find the perfect moment. Because I think that today was about just having today. And I think that we are one of those couples with a long story, when people ask how we found each other. I, will see her, every now and then, and, maybe one year she’ll be with somebody and the next year I’ll be with somebody. And it’s going to take a long time… and then it’s perfect. I’m in no rush.

Michael did his usual screwups and foot-in-mouth moments, but by the end of the episode he’d had an epiphany. I think that was one of my favorite moments with his character.

Golden Ticket, though.

You could also add two other questions - was he a bad boyfriend/husband? and Do I want him dating my mom?

He was a horrible boss. As a person he was casually racist, sexist, and homophobic. He was immature. He was self centered. He never really showed internal growth. He did, however, care about people he considered his friends and would go out of his way for them. And because of that last thing, he wasn’t a horrible partner.

Still wouldn’t want him dating my mom.

I think the reason this topic is debatable is because his character was written inconsistently. He could be written as a clueless self centered ass one episode (Phyllis’ wedding) and then caring and humble in another.
The Office was one of my favorite sit-coms of all time but the whole character of Michael was really a sloppy mess.

He did once kidnap a pizza delivery guy because the store world only honor the half off coupon for one pizza, not all 8 he ordered. That’s a felony, so I’m in the bad person canp

He’s also not particularly good at figuring out what his friends wanted - so he might very well go out of his way to do something that his friends would hate (thinking he was doing good for them). He’s not an evil monster but he’s someone it could be very dangerous and unpleasant to be around.

For example, he seems to think he’s gently teasing Pam about her long engagement - but she’s obviously not enjoying it