Friday, April 29, 2011

Finding the Michael Scott in All of Us

Yes, I cried. Yes, I felt like a friend of mine was yanked out of my life and an important part of me was ripped out of my innards. Yes, I was elated for him to have ridden off into the fictional sunset into a life of fictional happiness; the one he had always dreamt about. The one with a wife and the promises of children. Yes, Michael Scott was veritable to me on a deeper level than just a television character.

I saw Michael Scott in a different perspective then most may have seen him. You might have seen him as a quirky, fun loving, goofy, asinine character on a television sitcom. When I really looked into his character though I found something in him that struck an esoteric nerve. He was zany and came off as a selfish, conceited imbecile because he was longing for happiness. He was often crass because he had internal anguishes of not having found true love and was simply acting out his hurts in a different avenue of expression. The creators turned him into a symbolic character that some people could relate to, whether it be at their current point in life or in a time gone by.

‘The Office’ is the only show I have watched every episode of week in and week out since ‘Seinfeld.’ With ‘Seinfeld’ I missed the first few years and never really felt drawn to a specific character. With Michael Scott I have experienced for the first time a friendship and dare I say love for a television character. The feelings are not reciprocated, and I don’t care. It doesn’t matter who or what it is, as long as it touches you on an emotionally profound level, it’s worth pouring something into.

For 7 years I watched this character yearn and suffer in an often subtle, fictionalized morphing. After all he was a mid 40 something American male who craved to be liked and longed for a family of his own. Who among us doesn’t want to be liked? Who doesn't want family to share life with?

He was teetering on the edge of tragic figure status in that he knew he was running out of time. Running out of time to play ball with his kids. Running out of time to grow old with his grand kids. He was a white collar employee with a seemingly good salary and stellar health.  Yet this man was lost and lonely. It was somewhere around season 4 that it struck me that we were watching perhaps the most tragic figure in television history, masked under the guise of ridiculous humor.

The fact that his character was able to make me laugh like none other I’ve ever watched, in the midst of his search for his own personal holy grail was television genius. I always found myself rooting for him to finally find what he was looking for. But I never missed a chance to laugh at his expense either.

The 7 years I spent having the privilege of getting to know Michael Scott (Yes, I just typed that) were transcendent in my own personal life too. After a long, lonely night of gambling I would often pop in an episode of ‘The Office’ and bond with a character that was desolate in his own way.

I got to know Michael Scott in a time where I was far from where I am now. Much like him, I wasn’t sure of myself or where my life was going. As was he, I was painfully dumped a few times in my years of getting to know Michael. Through years of illness and confusion, I too wondered whether I was ever going to meet that special person and play ball with my child.

 As crazy as it sounds, I believe Michael Scott helped me through some of the most trying times in my life. In times where I wasn’t even close to my own family or God, I turned to that character to laugh and be touched. Sometimes just being able to say "At least I'm not Michael Scott", was enough to pacify me.

When it boils down to it, Michael Scott was just a television character. He doesn’t exist; he isn’t real and he isn’t in Boulder, Colorado right now having his culmination of a life hoped for with his fiance.

So how then, tonight, in his last episode did this fictional character’s contentment actually touch me as I sat silent on my couch? In my life I have learned the things I appreciate most are those moments you feel warmth in your soul without a word coming out of your mouth. He didn't need to exist.

I cried tonight watching this fictionalized character ‘die off.’ I didn’t feel dumb about crying or as if I was losing perspective. I found myself legitimately moved by the fact I am going to miss that goofy clown. You can earnestly miss old homes, vacation spots, or sports stadiums that have since been torn down. Why not a television character?

After some selfish tears of sorrow I found myself once again merry realizing Michael was happy. I was moved by this creation because it epitomizes so much of what we all strive for. At the end of the day, we all just want to be happy.

In that way, the spirit of Michael Scott will live on in all of us who truly grew to love him. And his spirit is all we have left of him now. I suppose it's all we ever had.


Justin said...

Perfectly, stated Joe... Thanks... I truly enjoyed the show and I also am glad that Will Ferrel won't be on much longer. I have had enough...

Sister Bear said...

wait...Michael Scott isn't real??!!
I feel like i'm reliving the tragic day you told me Santa Clause was made up. Except this is worse. I miss him!

seriously though, great job. U should do is eulogy.

Melissa DiBella said...

I love that you connected TV character Michael Scott to people everywhere. He is a big goofball, but yet some part of us can relate to his "just want to be liked" human side.

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