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The One Scene From The Office That Makes Us Love Steve Carell Even More

Trying to figure out the best Michael Scott scene on The Office is hopeless — an easier task is watching the lovable sitcom from start to finish, and deeming all Michael Scott scenes worthy. Throughout the series, Scott flouts all of the standard office politics, procedures, and decorum any manager is expected to follow. The rules are bent, broken, and annihilated, sometimes in a makeshift costume. His antics are cringe-worthy, and certainly wouldn't fly in real corporate America ... but thankfully for him, he's a fictional character played beautifully by Steve Carell

That said, if there's one scene from The Office that stands out, it comes from the infamous "The Convict" episode of season 3. Rocking a purple bandana, and changing his vocals, Scott's alter ego of "Prison Mike" appears in the episode, to teach his employees that The Office is better than prison. This happens shortly after finding out that one of his new workers, Martin Nash (Wayne Wilderson), a Black employee who recently transferred from another branch, is a convict — and after Martin's description of his own white collar prison experience convinces many of the employees that being behind bars might be better than working under Michael Scott every day. Basically, Michael takes this sentiment so personally that he forces everyone to endure his horribly stereotyped caricature of a convict, thereby only deepening their negative feelings about him and the Dunder Mifflin office. Michael has, of course, never been to prison, and paints a picture that does not align with Martin's real life experiences. 

As a piece of acting — and social commentary — this scene stands out: even Jim Halpert (John Krasinski) appears to break character during the all-time most Michael Scott moment ever.

The 'Prison Mike' scene is still remembered by the cast of The Office

There's no denying that the Prison Mike bit can come off as offensive, as jokes and stereotypes about race are prevalent throughout. This was intended to make Michael Scott look bad, of course, but on a recent episode of the Office Ladies podcast, stars Jenna Fischer (Pam Beesly) and Angela Kinsey (Angela Martin) reminisced about the episode, but most importantly, consulted Wayne Wilderson (who played Martin) on what he thought about his Office role. 

Wilderson feels that in 2020, the episode is more relevant than ever. "Wow. I just watched it again. I watch it maybe every year or so. It's such a good episode with everything that's going on in the world now, you know?" he said. "It feels a little even edgier at some points, but it's super poignant for all the issues that we're dealing with now — with race and how we deal with it, and what's funny, and what's not funny, and who can say what, when." Wilderson also mentioned how "This sort of puts a magnifying glass on where we've been and how far we've come along ... what comedy we can do."

Wilderson believes the commentary holds up, and that "The Convict" is a classic Office episode. The humor, of course, is undeniably funny — even now. As Angela Kinsey mentions, "In the conference room scene, when Steve became Prison Mike, the first time he turned around with that bandana on and his crazy Guys and Dolls accent — we all lost it, even Steve, which never happens." 

That was, it appears, all of us. Carell truly is a comedy genius.