Earlier this year, when Steve Carell first made mention of leaving “The Office” after next year, I said the show could survive and perhaps thrive without his lead character, Michael Scott. This was because Scott had become so stupid, so socially stunted, and so comically inept that any semblance of realness to his character (on a show that thrives on realistic interaction between people) was all but gone. For a while now, the comedic heart of this show has been Rainn Wilson’s Dwight Schrute. And now executive producer Mindy Kaling (who plays Kelly) tells Entertainment Weekly that she hopes Schrute takes Scott’s job on the show.
“I’d love to see Rainn Wilson in that position… Dwight has become so nuanced — you actually care about him now. I think if we did a good job laying the groundwork this coming season, he would be a fantastic boss.
“But that’s my dream,” she adds. “It certainly hasn’t been approved by people that are more powerful than me and who make those kinds of decisions.”
Chances are, NBC won’t let Carell leave the show without trying to replace him spiritually with another notable actor, one who would make a splash and give the show some added attention and curiosity. But Kaling is right. “The Office” has a long history of taking seemingly bit players and growing them into fully fleshed out people (Creed being one of the best examples). Schrute’s character has evolved on the show, from a repellent slimebag to an oddly lovable nutjob. The show, frankly, has suffered when Wilson hasn’t been on screen, so it makes sense to promote him to the lead role and get him in front of the camera more often.
What may happen is a solution that splits the difference, adding a new character but also expanding Wilson’s role on the show. Whether or not that works remains to be seen, but “The Office” has been long overdue for a breath of fresh air, and Dwight Schrute as boss provides that in spades.