Poor Michael (Steve Carell). He always seems to fall for the hot, crazy ones. There was Jan (Melora Hardin), Helene (Linda Purl), Holly (Amy Ryan)—okay, she wasn't crazy—and now there's Donna (Amy Pietz). In last night's episode of The Office, "The Cover Up," we found out that Michael was Donna's mistress—or, in simpler terms, that Donna was cheating on her husband with Michael. On the surface, this is a classic Michael's-been-duped situation. But if you look deeper, you'll see that this storyline is much more weighty than his past relationship mishaps—because, for the first time, Michael didn't actually contribute to the demise of the relationship. For once in his life, he didn't do anything wrong.
Actually, that's not completely true. He admitted to saying "I love you" on his second date with Donna. And in last week's episode, he ate a mint out of her hand. But those actions came from his endearing, inappropriate heart—a heart that certainly wasn't expecting to fall for a married lady.
But maybe Michael's relationship with Donna could be a turning point in his life. Observe, for example, how considerate he was of Jim (John Krasinski) and Pam's (Jenna Fischer) advice. He listened when they told him to stop devouring a maternity-style hors d'oeuvre of mayonnaise and black olives. He listened when they told him to stop Dwight from tracking Donna. And he confronted Donna after Pam (Jenna Fischer) used her first-class Facebook stalking skills to find incriminating photos of Donna and her husband.
It kind of warms my heart to see Michael growing up like this. Unlike his British predecessor, David Brent (Ricky Gervais), Michael has been given several more seasons to develop and mature, to choose his pranks selectively, to become a semi-legitimate boss, and to earn the true respect of his employees. Sure, he's a buffoon at heart, but he's quietly been morphing into a likable guy over the last six seasons. He's used his signature phrase more sparingly. He actually reprimands Dwight (Rainn Wilson) and Jim for pranking each other, rather than capitalizing on the joke himself. First- or second-season Michael would probably keep seeing Donna and fool himself into thinking she'd leave her husband. But sixth-season Michael, I hope, has a bit more self-respect. I can't wait to see what he's going to do next week.
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