Brian Baumgartner played lovable loser Kevin Malone on the American version of The Office for 9 years. During that time, audiences watched as Kevin went from a somewhat dimwitted office worker to an utter man-child who was continually getting into trouble. However, one fan theory has Kevin in on the joke, and a fan on Reddit explained how this is possible.
Kevin Malone’s journey
When Kevin Malone made his grand entry in the early seasons of The Office, he’s a relatively believable character. In the early years, Kevin reveals himself to be a deceptively good athlete and musician who is something of a sleaze bag to his female co-workers but ultimately has a heart of gold. All of this changes throughout the series.
Kevin slowly descends into something different, whether it is his slew of failed relationships or his growing hatred for his job. No longer a believably foolish character, Kevin becomes a practical child who occasionally has his brilliant moments. By the series’ end, we learn that Kevin took his severance from Dunder Mifflin Paper company to open a bar.
However, if you ask some fans, this is the key to a theory that Kevin was never fully what the show portrayed him. He may have been a genius all along.
Reddit chimes in on Kevin Malone
In a Reddit thread asking what fan theories people believe, u/Six_Foot_Dwarf came up with a doozy of an idea. Noting how the series portrays Kevin throughout The Office, they posited that it was all an act – long-con kayfabe meant to keep everyone from seeing how brilliant he was.
“Kevin Malone, if not actually a genius, is certainly much smarter than he lets on. Clearly, he’s lazy and gluttonous, and blah-blah-blah, but after the merger with Stamford, and its reveal that Martin had served time, Kevin realizes that he needs to give plausible deniability to any sort of financial maleficence that the accountants have been doing and Flanderizes [a trend going back to The Simpsons (per TV Tropes)] himself in front of the camera,” they wrote.
However, the user goes on to say that Kevin occasionally exposes this. Kevin’s alleged ploy is not without his warts, whether showing supertaster abilities or accidental brilliance toward Robert California. If one looks at the man who becomes a caricature of himself, thinking of him as someone putting on an act is a far easier pill to swallow.
Adding credence to the theory, u/A_Account98 extrapolated, noting that it all could be a result of a long con. “When it comes to gambling and cards, you see in an episode Kevin do a complete 180 and sounds nothing like goofy, lovable Kevin but a card shark and professional, possibly even count cards,” they wrote.
Given the way that Kevin ultimately ends up, this theory makes sense. Was his schtick a long con to achieve his dreams without the burden of having to be the smart guy of the office?
Was Kevin a genius?
In an article about Kevin’s descent throughout the series, Cooper Hood of ScreenRant arrived at a similar theory. The slightly foolish character from the beginning of the series is a far cry from the man of the final years.
However, if this was all a ploy to make people think less of him, it could explain why the character went in the wrong direction. Whether this was a creative decision or the musings of a fan who wanted an explanation, Baumgartner’s character is one of the most fascinating character studies there is.
However, on a grander scale, threads like this show why The Office remains so popular eight years after it aired its final episode. While the series may have had an inconsistent journey, it built characters that people care about. Whether Kevin was a knucklehead or the smartest man in the room, his story tells of someone who had more beneath the surface than people give him credit for.
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