Though Jason Bateman has found massive success on the big screen playing an avenging employee who takes down his evil supervisor in Horrible Bosses (and now Horrible Bosses 2) Bateman has a bit of experience playing a sh*tty superior himself, thanks to Arrested Development.
Never as nefarious as the bosses in the film, though, Bateman’s Michael Bluth instead embodies horribleness because of his weak spine and inexplicable loyalty to the family that constantly undermines him and lets him down. Among other things…
Though every Bluth takes a turn punching Michael in the gut, none seem to enjoy it or do it as often as G.O.B. Bluth, a constant rival and thorn in Michael’s side, who is clearly put off by Michael’s favored status at The Bluth Company and Michael’s decision to relegate him to menial tasks.
Though G.O.B. would later take Michael’s job, sow the seeds of discontentment among the workforce, and work for the competitor, the G.O.B. and Michael relationship is perfectly framed for the audience in the show’s second episode (“Top Banana”) when Michael asks G.O.B. to simply mail an insurance check. Pissed off by this errand, G.O.B. struggles to throw the envelope into the ocean.
The impact of G.O.B.’s actions aren’t fully known until Michael finds out that the check wasn’t mailed and while watching the now uninsured banana stand go up in flames. It’s a perfect example of why Michael’s continued begrudging faith in his family makes him a horrible boss. That George had secretly taped $250,000 inside the walls of the building is merely a cherry on top.
One could say that, in-and-of-itself, trusting his family members qualifies as the stupidest act, but at the start of “Queen for a Day” in season two, Michael gets the ball rolling on the Bluth family stupidity by selling off some of his Bluth Company stock once it becomes unfrozen. In doing this, Michael inadvertently starts off a chain reaction that leads to a Lucille Austero takeover that is at first gentle but later less so. He did all of this for a sports car.
Michael also gets points for the asinine way that he turned both Starla and Kitty’s dismissals from the company into the godspark for their revenge against the company. There was also the time that he gave access of the companies financials over to a hooker (as played by Justine Bateman, Jason’s sister) who he thought was his long-lost sister. That debacle could have cost the Bluth’s everything had the working girl not blown everyone… away and saved the day by re-investing more than $300,000 of the company’s money into itself. That just goes to show that even idiots have a spell of good luck from time to time.
Idiots also have a lot of bad luck, and Michael embodies that as well.
You have to admire Michael for striking out onto his own to complete Sudden Valley between season 3 and season 4, but unfortunately Michael couldn’t read the tea leaves that predicted the housing market collapse. Both his dreams and a mailman died because of it.
You have to be able to see the future and dodge bad luck if you want to succeed, and Michael’s inability to do that makes him a pretty horrible boss. Not nearly as much as his growing disregard for authority and the law, though.
Once A Bluth, Always A Bluth
I like that Michael often sets out to do the right thing. The trouble is, he can’t always maintain his boy scout persona. Is it a capital offense when he “borrows” office furniture in “Storming the Castle”? No, but is he not the very definition of a horrible boss when he encourages his brother to break into a permit office, or when he constantly refuses to pay people their salaries while expecting them to keep working like he did in “Staff Infection” and “Family Ties”?
Though Michael Bluth likes to set himself apart from his insane and often morally bankrupt family, it seems as though he is damned by his DNA and unable to ignore his programming. He’s one of them, and when it comes to the workplace, that is bad news for everyone around him.