The Office was almost canceled after the first season. They turned things around with one character.
During the first season of The Office, the show relied on the character tenets of the British version to put forth a meaner, less redemptive Michael Scott.
American audiences were not feeling it.
When the show was renewed for season two, the writers knew they had to make adjustments.
Season two Michael came back with a new look, new attitude, and immediately became a favorite in households and now part of the cultural lexicon.
So what specifically changed? Aside from Michael Scott's hair?
Today we're going to go over the four changes made to Michael and how they're excellent tips for your own writing.
Check out this video from Nertdstalgic and let's talk after the jump!
1. Michael Scott went from nefarious to slick
In the first season of The Office Michael's shirts were too tight, his hair was slicked back, and no one was worried about giving him human moments. He didn't wear a blazer and he didn't care about the way his employees felt.
It was a disconnect between the kind of humor put forth in the British version and the adaptation for American audiences.
People didn't get what Michael was all about. and they certainly didn't want him to be their boss.
But season two Michael came back with new hair, wardrobe, and a smile.
This slicker and more handsome Michael could have been partly a product of Steve Carrell becoming a movie star, but it also was supposed to warm him up to us again. This was a new, genuine Michael who had a place in our hearts.
The clothes make the man and the character. And here they're a small, but important step into the other changes.
2. Michael gets redemption via happiness
As I mentioned above, Michael didn't have any redeeming moments in the opening season. They knew that couldn't last. So a pact was made in the writer's room that no matter what happens in any episode, Michael would end happy and optimistic.
It seemed to make audiences feel good about coming back.
3. Michael needed to become "The World's Best Boss"
One of the funniest jokes was Michael drinking from his "World's Best Boss" mug while we all knew he was terrible at his job. But the writers understood that that couldn't last forever. Michael is the boss. He had to get there somehow.
And if he got there for disingenuous reasons we'd hate him forever.
So Michael's backstory of being the best salesman came to the forefront. His awkward way of closing big deals became second nature.
Michael's evolution into someone with a different managing style allowed the US version of The Office to last longer than the original series' two seasons. Suddenly, we kind of wanted to work with Michael.
4. 10% nicer to Michael after season one
Michael was not loveable in the first season. As the series went on, the show did some amazing things to turn him into someone we cried about when he left. The way they did that was to have every story be 10% nicer to the character.
Life was still hard. He closed on his condo for a terrible price. Loved and lost. Got replaced. Fired. Rehired.
But through all that, we were alway on Michael's side.
He was a true leader during the merger, gathering his team and winning the right to exist.
But the real way we saw Michael evolve was the introduction of Holly Flax.
Real love made us care for Michael and when it was ripped from him, audiences felt it. Of course, they eventually wound up together. The Holly character brought out the best in Michael.
What's next? 10 Writing lessons from The Office!
The Office is one of the most successful shows in recent memory, so take a look at some of the top writing lessons from the show to learn more about why it worked.