Study Guide

Michael Teo in Crazy Rich Asians

By Kevin Kwan

Michael Teo

Breathtaking in a Speedo, Michael Teo swept Astrid off her feet in 2004. But nothing else was easy about their relationship. 

Michael is former military, smart with technology, generally sweet, and building a tech start-up. Just as many men do, Michael also has an ego. And it's throbbing.

What is "that kind of background"? (1.9.11)

Michael, "the son of schoolteachers, grew up in a middle-class neighborhood" in Singapore, served as an "Armed Forces Elite Commando," was a National Merit Scholar and a smarty pants. While his bloodline didn't dazzle the world, Michael wasn't a bad catch. "It could have been much worse," they figured (1.9.11).

For Michael, though, being better than "much worse" wore him down. He never felt accepted by Astrid's family, particularly since they treated him like a tech support team member any time he came over. Further, we find out that before their wedding, Astrid's brother's showed Michael all Astrid's financial documents, including how bound up the money was to let him know "No one outside the Leong family will ever benefit from or come to control her money" (3.14.50). We see: Many people assumed he was just after the money.

Poor Michael.

Michael feels trapped in the marriage, but, worse, trapped in Astrid's family. He's so desperate he fakes an affair to get Astrid to leave him. When she says she'll forgive him, he begs her to "please just let me go" (3.14.58). And then he cries for the first time in front of her.

Though Michael goes about it all the wrong way, he's a sympathetic character. And he serves as a warning about Rachel's potential future: never accepted or respected by the family and trapped in an impossible situation.