In a show brimming with characters sending our moral compasses spinning, Michael stood out by showing exactly how a genuinely good person goes bad. We are dropped into the middle of this world for three seasons, and we see how hard it is to leave “the game” and how easy it is to fall back into it (Cutty). But we don’t see how it starts until the fourth season with Michael and the other schoolboys. He isn’t the best gangster of the bunch. He’s the best kid of the bunch. He’s smart and knows right from wrong. However, it quickly appears that there exists only one outlet for those assets, so we see him get scooped up like a #1 draft pick by the game, then watch with fascination where it takes him.
Malcolm was never quite smart enough to elicit a cult-status, and wasn’t conventional enough to appeal to the masses, so it sort of lingered in Fox’s lineup, constantly reminding viewers that it was still on the air whenever a promo or bumper appeared during The Simpsons or football. However, Malcolm, both the character and the show, broke new ground on network television by not relegating itself to crudely drawn stereotypes of kids. The airhead, the jock, the nerd. Malcolm was trying to find his place in the family and in the world, and mostly that had to do with dealing with a lot of bullshit.
He contained the DNA of a Nickelodeon character like Pete, or Pete, or Clarissa, but with a bit more intelligence. He’s surrounded by morons that he loves, but he’s smart enough to realize that they are, in fact, morons.
While Manny is certainly a more beloved character, being all pudgy and romantic, Luke is certainly the more real character. Growing up, I didn’t know any poetic, romantic kids, but I sure did know a lot of kids like Luke. The kids like Luke were fun. And, just like in that one episode, kids like Luke get the girls while sensitive guys like Manny go write sonnets.
He likes to jump on a trampoline with a box on his head, which is something that sounds immensely appealing right now. He also referred to his grandfather’s wife as a “coal digger.” Hard not to like the kid.