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Steve Carell Defends Michael Scott's Controversial Behavior On The Office

Sensibilities change over time. Jokes and plotlines that seemed innocuous years ago can suddenly become incredibly offensive. It can make going back and rewatching a show quite the ordeal as you never know what kind of potentially cruel joke will pop up next to make you cringe. Fans of "The Office" understand this all too well. 

Despite the show going off the air in 2013, people continue flocking to Peacock to watch the show in its entirety. Even after nearly a decade, the sitcom has held up, and viewers continue getting laughs from the myriad of storylines the show produced. But as tends to be the case with many sitcoms, not everything has aged as gracefully, especially when it came to the character of Michael Scott (Steve Carell). 

Michael wasn't exactly the wokest guy at Dunder Mifflin. In fact, how he treated some of his coworkers was cringeworthy even when the episodes came out. But Steve Carell has a way of looking at Michael that still makes him likable despite some of his more egregious transgressions.

Steve Carell calls Michael Scott ignorant, not intolerant

Michael Scott is definitely problematic. He frequently makes jokes at the expense of others, often in regards to aspects of themselves they have no control over, such as race and sexual orientation. And he rarely learns his lesson as to why he shouldn't do that. But Steve Carell offered an explanation as to why and how viewers can still connect with the character despite his negative actions. 

In "Welcome to Dunder Mifflin," an oral history of the show, Carell spoke with his costar Brian Baumgartner, who played Kevin Malone, about the character and how he can still be viewed as redemptive. Carell explained, "It's why I bristle a little when people try to compartmentalize Michael as a racist. He's a person with an enormously good, kind heart who lacked a great deal of information about the world around him. He was as asleep in a woke world as you could be" (via Mashable).

Ultimately, Carell managed to find the good in the character, even if his actions didn't always line up with his intent. "[Michael's] trying his best," he went on to exclaim. "There's a difference between being intolerant and being ignorant. Sometimes intolerance and ignorance go hand in hand, for sure. But I think he was a very earnest and decent human being. He just didn't ... get it all the time, you know?" It sounds as though Carell gets it, and he managed to find the good side of the character to lean into.