You’ve seen the show. You’ve seen the memes. You’ve seen the mug.
The white ceramic mug with plain black print clearly stating: World’s Best Boss. While this is a comically arrogant claim once he reveals that he bought the mug for himself ($10 at Spencer’s Gifts), I think it offers great insight into the mind of Michael Gary Scott, the bumbling, naive, and sometimes rude boss at Dunder Mifflin, Scranton.
Michael is the titular character of the hit comedy TV series The Office, and a fan favorite and even something of a cult-hero. Office fanatic Logan Altenberger had this to say about the beloved Michael Scott:
“Michael Scott is an amazing character for many reasons. Probably the main one is that almost everything he does is hilarious. He also was never afraid to do things his own way. Top-tier character.”
While many will be quick to call him a jerk, insensitive, or maybe even racist, I think that he is much different. I think that despite the end result, he truly acts from the bottom of his heart.
I believe that this is best showcased when he appears at Pam’s art show and is the only visitor from the office. Pam Beesley, one of his employees, is very disappointed but Michael not only intentionally makes a point to show up, but also he genuinely loves and is in awe of Pam’s art. He even offers to buy her paintings to hang up at home. He truly wanted to be there to support Pam and ended up making Pam feel so happy, loved and appreciated.
Michael’s tender heart also appears when he insists on walking Phyllis Vance, his employee, down the aisle at her wedding despite having no true relationship outside of work with her. Despite his efforts, I believe that he has a desperate need for attention, and more importantly, love.
He is constantly making jokes and searching for approval from his co-workers, and he is hurt when they reject him. An example of this would be Jim Halpert, one of his employees, not inviting him to his barbecue or Stanley Hudson, another employee, being insubordinate in one of Michael’s meetings. His quest for love is one that stretches throughout the course of the show, starting with Carol Stills, who he proposes to after talking to a couple who has been married for 53 years, despite only going on 9 dates with her. She denies him, and he moves into an extremely unhealthy relationship with his former boss Jan Levinson, who takes advantage of his naive personality and uses him for money and sex. Even when he breaks away from her, he is extremely broken down and claims that he has to move on or else, “I’ll go back to Jan and I hate Jan!” This relationship takes a toll on Michael financially, as he eventually has to work nights as a telemarketer to make ends meet. Eventually, after years of problematic relationships, affairs, and interests, he finds the right woman and lives happily ever after.
Michael, like many of the characters on the show, is polarizing. His remarks border on hateful at times, but his tenderness also shows many times. He is just another stunning example of the show’s brilliant character creation. Instead of creating god-like humans with few flaws, the show took a cast of ordinary people and made the characters completely normal – normal, of course, being that the characters are far from perfect. They all have profound flaws, odd quirks, less than ideal social skills, and very real lives. They all seek love, attention, and approval from their peers, albeit in their unique ways, and Michael Gary Scott is no exception.
Perhaps his coworkers will realize this someday and buy him a new mug, but for now, he is in the search and his self-glorification is a big part of that.