The Office: Goodbye, Michael
Monday, May 9, 2011 at 9:10PM
Matthew Kopelke in TV & DVDs

It’s not often that a show can last long enough to not only allow for a deep emotional connection to form between characters/ and the audience, and it’s certainly even more rare that a show takes the risk of allowing one of the lead characters to be written out with integrity. Going one step further, it’s certainly even more rare for this to happen, and to result in a genuine sense of loss on the part of the audience. Going even further, this is rare as dragon droppings when it comes to sitcoms, and certainly the only definite example I can think of was when Colonel Henry Blake was written out of M*A*S*H all those years ago. But it’s happened again, and this time it was when we said farewell to Steve Carell as his character of Michael Scott departed The Office to live out his dreams away from Dunder Mifflin.

Few people, myself included, honestly thought that a US version of The Office was ever going to work. The UK version it’s based on was so successful, I couldn’t see it translating well to America. I felt vindicated when the first season of episodes was so universally horrible, but then something amazing happened - the show found its own voice, and 7 years later is easily the biggest comedy hit that NBC has had in the 21st Century. One of the chief reasons the show has worked is because of the presence of Steve Carell, who managed to take the character of Michael Scott, initially nothing more than a David Brent clone, into new and interesting territory. He moved things into a much more emotional zone, allowing the comedy to come out of the character’s natural traits, rather than anything forced. Over 7 years, we grew to really adore Michael Scott, even if sometimes he was very embarrassing.

Goodbye, Michael was a beautiful ending to the character’s journey. We’ve seen Michael try to find true love over the years, coming to realise that this was the journey the character was always on. Like everyone in life, Michael Scott just wanted to love someone, and have them love him in return. He was really quite a vulnerable character, and so for things to “come good” for him in such a positive way really was great to see. The fact that Holly is his perfect match was simply beautiful, both in the writing and performances, but in the fact that Amy Ryan was perfect casting for the role. She and Carell have a wonderful rapport together, and that really helped to sell the believability of the romance. It certainly meant that as an audience member, when these two finally got it together, there were equal parts tears and excitement for a beautiful happy ending.

So now as The Office moves into a post-Steve Carell world, it’s hard to say if the show will continue to thrive with the loss of such a central character. I want it to, because I like the characters that occupy the Scranton branch of Dunder Mifflin. But it’s hard to see the show having the same grounding as what it had in Steve Carell. His presence will be missed in Season 8, but for now let’s just salute such a brilliant actor, and such a brilliant performance as the “World’s Best Boss”, Michael Gary Scott. There certainly wasn’t a dry eye in the house when he boarded that plane. That’s what she said.

Article originally appeared on The Sunday Talk (
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