Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Does Michal Scott have Aspergers?

Oh, The Office. Six years ago, a remake of the BBC series sounded like an idea only a witless network executive could love. But then, well shucks, you just went and became great and all. So, now we face the final Michael Scott centered season of the series, which, at its' best, balanced some very broad humor with an awareness of real world economics and an attention to gradually building on character details that could almost be called novelistic. And Michael did Pam's mom cause he didn't know she was old, pfff.

My favorite thing about the Michael Scott character is how the show parcels out clues to how he evolved the middle aged emotional train wreck that runs the Scranton Branch of Dunder Miflin. The show has always alluded to certain emotional needs that were not met in Scott's early life and pulled of a real neat trick in making a character who spews nuance but is blind to the nuccey spew that's always right in front of him. The Office even took advantage of Scott's embasility by making it the very reason he's had success as a salesman: Scott fetishizes the family life he never had and uses that value to appeal to customers.

It's probably for the best that Carell is moving on after this year. While I could watch this character forever, it really is cruel after a certain point to keep gawking (affectionaletly) at this poor soul who could never realistically gain the self awareness they need to help myself.
The office has consistently refused to jump the shark to the point that it's last season was really unsure where to step. I admire this because even though Michael Scott would need some serious emotional growth to remain compelling in the long term, we know him to well now to believe that he is capable of that. This leads me to wonder, DOES MICHAEL SCOTT HAVE ASPERGERS SYNDROME? It was this clip that made me reconsider whether Michael Scott's flaws are solely the product of a lack of love in his childhood.

It's the detail at the end where Carell says that as a 5 year old he couldn't even talk. I don't pretend to have a depth of knowledge on the condition, but delayed speech development is certainly a sign.
You could just write off the comment as Michael's memory being spotty or using hyperbole, but wouldn't Carell's final year be amazing if the show really got to the bottom of MS's dysfunction? I'm amazed that the show has never jumped the shark in introducing Michael Scott's mother, if this something the show will draw from it's arsenal to truly confront his long gestating demons?
I'm sure that Carell will end his run with his character finding some sort of lasting happiness, fitting for a series about why we go on living through insipidity for the minor payoffs at days end. But the show has gone to ( and peaked at) some serious Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf areas before, wont the pay off be greater if the show regrows its teeth and says "Hey! Michael Scott has Aspergers, his mom just said so!"

And apparently Harvey Kietel is going to be the new regrional manager of the Scranton branch, so lets steel ourselves.