Best Boss Challenge: Leslie Knope vs Michael Scott

30 May, 2013

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In an age where the average television viewer utilizes Netflix to stream his or her favorite shows instead of tuning in when they air, many shows have come to immense popularity due to this unique exposure. Along with the giants of Breaking Bad, House of Cards, and Arrested Development, two sitcoms in particular have grabbed massive amounts of viewers and made them laugh to their core. Parks and Recreation and The Office are two of the most popular shows available on Netflix and have achieved four and a half to five star (out of five) reception on the service. These two comical giants have been so successful due to both their creative and witty writing, as well as the hysterical characters that inhabit their given universes. Parks and Recreation’s star Leslie Knope is portrayed by former SNL great Amy Poehler, while Michael Scott, the main attraction for seven of The Office’s nine seasons was played by Steve Carell.

These two characters have grabbed the hearts of millions of TV (and Netflix) watchers around the globe for their hilarious comedic deliveries and perfect execution of the “mockumentary” style. Although these two iconic office-place comedians are the stars of their shows, they could have never done it alone and both have extraordinary supporting casts. Parks and Recreation has surrounded Ms. Poehler with Aziz Ansari’s hilarious Tom Haverford and Chris Pratt’s dimwitted yet charming Andy Dwyer, while The Office has come to fame due to the hilarity of both John Krasinski’s droll, camera staring prankster Jim Halpert and Rainn Wilson’s prideful and eccentric Dwight K. Schrute. It is evident in both situations that Poehler and Carell have both been surrounded with casts that were destined for success from the get-go, but let’s not forget who the production companies selected to be the stars of these amazing shows. Leslie Knope and Michael Scott are in my opinion some of the funniest and perfectly flawed characters I have come into contact with and have the uncanny ability to relentlessly spew out hilarious material episode after episode (I guess I owe many thanks to the writers for this feat).

Now that we are all familiar with these fantastic characters, I would like to pose a question… which would you rather have as a boss? I will attempt to approach this as unbiased and empirical as possible. I honestly do love both of these shows and I will break down the characters based on what I have witnessed after viewing every episode that was available to me. I will break them down under five categories, which will include: Leadership Skills, Morale Upkeep, Organization, Productivity, and Popularity. Without further ado, who is the better boss between government powerhouse Leslie Knope and longtime Dunder-Mifflin management and sales extraordinaire Michael Scott?

Leadership Skills: Advantage Scott

Although Leslie has worked hard to keep the Parks and Recreation department in her beloved town of Pawnee as productive and efficient as possible, she isn’t as clear-cut of a leader as Scott. When doing big projects involving the rest of her department, she often requires (whether she admits it or not) the assistance of iron fist superior Ron Swanson, played by Nick Offerman. Michael Scott on the other hand is greatly versed in rallying his employees and successfully getting them to do various tasks or projects. Although I will have to mention that Michael often leads his office for selfish reasons or to make himself look better, in the general sense, he is much better at motivating and convincing his employees to do what he wants them to do.

Morale Upkeep: Advantage Scott

Michal Scott has the priceless talent of always being able to excite his team and keep them motivated. With a combination of humor, way too many office parties, and the occasional special meeting, Scott keeps his paper company always ready and upbeat for the most part, and luckily for us, does so in the most hysterical of manners. Knope, on the other hand, is much more involved with her own relationships and government successes than the happiness of her comrades. In fact, she is often the forerunner in initiating the hilarious and sometimes offensive teasing of her employee Jerry Gergich, played by Jim O’Heir. In addition, she will often disregard or “shush” her best friend and later co-worker Ann Perkins, played by Rashida Jones, her boss Ron Swanson, as well as many other characters who try to giver her advice, direction, or orders. The bottom line is that people just seem to be a little happier when around Michael although exceptions exist.

Organization: Knope/Scott Tie

In the shows, both characters keep a relatively full yet neat desk and a presentable office. Due to the unpredictability of Michael Scott, he is more likely to make random changes to the office, while Leslie Knope would most likely defer to Ron before doing anything drastic in terms of organization (or everything else), but both of these characters would keep an organized office space when push comes to shove.

Productivity: Advantage Knope

Easy. One of the most blatant differences between Knope and Scott is that Knope spends the majority of her time working to make the local government of Pawnee, Indiana better, as well as raising her own government stock with passion. Meanwhile, Michael spends most of his waking hours on air distracting, joking with, and making fun of his employees, as well as slacking around independently in his personal office. Michael is constantly trying to make himself look better both in his own eyes and in his believed career as a comedian. In the episode “Threat Level Midnight,” Michael orders all employees to stop what they are doing in order to view a movie he has worked on over the past decade by the same name. In addition to watching himself and admiring how much talent he believes that he has, Scott also uses this opportunity as an attempt to woo his lover Holly with his acting skills. Lets just say Knope would never make a movie, or at least show it on government time.

Popularity: Advantage Knope

This was a tough one. Both Leslie Knope and Michael Scott are adored by their many coworkers. Interestingly, that is where I discovered a slight discrepancy between the two characters. Many. Although Michael is loved by numerous employees at Dunder-Mifflin, including some of the bigger characters like Jim, Pam, Dwight and Andy (especially during the period of his departure from the show), he is also a monster or an idiot in the eye’s of some other characters such as Stanley, Ryan, Jan, Angela, and the entirety of the warehouse. From a mixture of personal reasons, disapproval of Michael’s tendency to be unproductive, and the reception of his wildly inappropriate jokes/antics, many of the characters have grown to (or will always) despise Michael and his unorthodox approach to managing his branch of the paper company.

Leslie on the other hand is usually praised and admired by everyone she works with and even Jerry, who she constantly makes fun of, seems to enjoy her presence. In the fourth season of Parks and Recreation, Leslie runs for city council and the support and backing from her coworkers are astounding. She is rash, naïve, and emotional at times, but Leslie Knope is a highly likeable person in the eyes of both sides of the fourth wall.

Conclusion

Technically, by my analysis it has come out to be a tie, and I have to say this was not intended. From my research and introspection on the topic, I honestly believe that the given characters truly deserved to win the categories that they did. With regard to whom I would rather work for, I am going to have to say Leslie Knope. She is organized, determined, and passionate about her work and that of her department. Even thought she is primarily in it for her own success (but then again who isn’t), I would much rather have her steering the ship than the admittedly uproarious Michael Scott. Although he constantly goes by the “World’s Best Boss” moniker, I think he is a better comedian than a talent scout. Yes, it would be nice to have hilarious meetings and pranks ensue daily, but then again Leslie’s office also hosts its fair share of laughs while still getting work done. Yes, Michael led a highly productive office as well, but the success was mostly due to his staff, and if anything they would have been even more productive without him. Well, what about Leslie’s dependence on her superior Ron? I am confident that if ever she would be my boss, she would do a great job of directing us independently. Besides, if Leslie ever needed help with anything, I’m sure Ron would only be a phone call away.

By Alec Kaden

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About the author

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Alec Kaden

Hey y’all, I’m Alec Kaden. I am currently a writing Major and Scriptwriting minor at Ithaca College in Ithaca, NY. I was born in Chicago, Illinois and after living in the land of Lincoln for almost eleven years; I relocated to San Antonio, Texas. I have a true passion for story, plot and characters, and one day dream to be a famous author, television writer, or anything else that I can write about to put food on the table and a Lambo in the garage. I am really into TV (sitcoms, and Breaking Bad especially), Netflix, sports, writing, music, cars and any combination of those you can imagine. I am thrilled to be a part of the team and am looking forward to slaving over articles for hours for your reading pleasure!

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