Michael Schur has been the name behind writing, producing, and creating some of the most successful shows over the past 21 years. He remains an unknown entity for most of us, even though you’ve seen him act in one of your favourite sitcoms! Surprised, eh? Well then, read on to know more about this genius.
In the last 10 years, Michael Schur has not just created comedy content that is evergreen, but he has also created a legacy for himself. And though he already has some of the best content under his writing, producing, and creating credits, people who have followed his career are the ones who’ll tell you that he has only just begun.
Even though Michael has become a much sort after name in the past decade, he has been around for a little more than two.
He graduated from Harvard University in 1997, where he served as the president of the “Harvard Lampoon”, the undergraduate humour publication founded in 1876 by seven undergraduates at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which has become a farm system for Hollywood’s best and most revered comedy writers.
Lampoon alumni can be found behind the scenes of sitcoms and late-night shows, including ‘Saturday Night Live’, ‘The Simpsons’, ‘The Office‘, ’30 Rock’, ‘The Mindy Project’, and many others. Well, Michael Schur is a name that can be found behind the scenes of two shows already mentioned in the list, ‘Saturday Night Live’ and ‘The Office’. And he is credited with writing some of the best and highly acclaimed sketches and episodes on both the shows.
Michael, or Mike as he is called by his peers, started his career in the entertainment industry with a successful sting at SNL, which began in 1998 and carried on till 2004. During this time, he worked as a writer with legends like Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Jimmy Fallon, and Seth Meyers. Meyers and Mike became such good friends that the former was also the best man at the latter’s wedding.
This stint also saw some the most acclaimed seasons of SNL for the writing team, where they bagged the Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music, or Comedy Program, three times in a row from 2001-2003. The fact that SNL received an award in this category after 1996, and again took 5 years to receive it in 2008, shows the kind of impact Schur had during his stint.
Mike’s next was going to be the one that really shot his name through the roof, and yet it isn’t one that can be called his true calling, or the one where his potential was truly met. We are talking about the legendary US version of the original hit UK series, ‘The Office’, where Schur joined as a producer, writer, and recurring actor in 2005.
Yes, recurring actor, you heard that right!
If you are a fan of ‘The Office’, then you probably remember Dwight Schrute’s extremely weird farm cousin, Mose. Yup, that’s Michael Schur. And, if at SNL Schur worked with exceptional talent, at ‘The Office’ his co-writers included a list of true hall-of-famerslike Mindy Kaling, B.J. Novak, Greg Daniels, Paul Lieberstein, and more.
The episodes that Schur had a major hand in writing are “The Alliance” (S1); “Office Olympics” (S2); “Christmas Party” (S2); and “Valentine’s Day” (S2); “Branch Closing” (S3); “Traveling Salesmen” (S3); “The Return” (S3); “The Negotiation” (S3); and “The Job” (S3); and “Dunder Mifflin Infinity” (S4).
Schur’s stint as a writer with ‘The Office’ lasted till season 4, and it is believed that he majorly wrote for Jim and Pam, while Kaling enjoyed writing for Michael Scott. Though Jim and Pam will eternally be one of TV’s favourite couple, if you are a true fan of the show, you’ll be able to relate to how the meaningfulness of the Jim and Pam relationship drops after the fourth season.
It’s evident because other than Michael and Dwight, Jim and Pam were truly the heart of the show, and Mike’s writing is nothing if not all heart.
And this heart that Mike brings to his writing was something that he could truly imbibe in his own creations later on in his career with ‘Parks and Recreation’ and ‘The Good Place’. Of course, he co-created our favourite cop-caper ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ with Dan Goor, but his peak potential, for now, has been achieved with ‘The Good Place’, and that also does not seem like the end of it.
In creating these shows, Michael Schur has truly displayed his capability at taking extremely cynical environments and turning them into places of hope and laughter.
In ‘Parks and Rec’, he takes a small town that is not open to change and takes a small government organization, usually filled with cynics that believe in not even doing the minimum, but adds that one character who wants to work against it all. An exaggerated environment, yes, but through Amy Poehler’s Leslie Knope, Mike creates a character that drives a set of cynical but yet lovable characters to be better, to create a better town, and be the best version of themselves.
It’s the same with ‘The Good Place’, where the entire list of characters, at least initially, is a set of cynics, with no hope to make a better world or better themselves. Through these characters, Mike creates a show that explores the core thoughtbehind ‘what it takes to be a good person’.
‘The Good Place’ manages to stay true to its theme till the very last moment, while also delivering intellectually stirring lessons about ethics, and being an equally entertaining sitcom. We’d go as far as to say that ‘The Good Place’ provides one of the most uniquely satisfying finales for a show in recent times, if not ever. It even helped NBC stay relevant as a cable network when online mediums like Netflix and Prime Video were dominating the market and even award shows.
Michael, due to all these achievements and deserved recognition, has now become a name that networks are vying to get on board for similar success stories. He is using this place of power and stature to make way for new Michael Schur stories, to get new storytellers on board who can make a mark. For this purpose, he even created his own production under the name of “Fremulon”.
Mike now wants to produce more original content, content with more heart and soul. He already has a great resume as a producer too, with Aziz Ansari’s ‘Master of None’ under his name. A lot of people also don’t know, but the highly acclaimed episode of ‘Black Mirror’, “Nosedive”, was also co-written by Schur with his ‘The Office’ co-star and ‘Parks and Rec’ actor, Rashida Jones.
All we can say right now is that we can’t wait to see what comes out next from the abundantly creative mind of this genius. But we are absolutely sure that it is going to be nothing less than legendary. Pressure? We don’t think Mike Schur feels any.
PS: We hope there is some collaboration between Michael Schur and Phoebe Waller-Bridge in the near future. Oh, doesn’t that sound like the DREAM!