The Ladies of Parks and Recreation
By Christina Schultz
After a long maternity leave, I am happy to say I will be writing again from time to time! This first postpartum post will arguably not be my best work, but bear with me as I get back in the saddle.
Rewatching all seven seasons of NBC's Parks and Recreation (2009-2015) with my husband over the past few months began as a nice evening diversion amidst all the turmoil and upheaval in our personal lives and in the world around us. It also gave me a chance to think about the excellent female characters in the show: Leslie, Donna, April, Ann Perkins and even the self-proclaimed "legendary newswoman" Joan Callamezzo. I might even talk about not one, not two, but all three of the Tammys...
Let's start with Leslie Knope (SNL alumna Amy Poehler), the fiercely dedicated and relentless public servant for the Pawnee (IN) Department of Parks and Recreation. She is the person I sincerely wish all politicians actually were. Leslie is honest, intelligent, hardworking, compassionate, feminist and creative. She holds herself to such high standards and yet still finds the time to help everyone else around her and lift up her coworkers and friends. Yes, some might say she is a "pain" or even a "bitch", but wouldn't you want someone like her fighting on your side? She is a true inspiration to us all.
Donna Meagle (Retta) grew into her own as the show progressed. What impressed me most was her true baller style that she would give up for no one or no thing ("Treat yo self!"). She eventually leaves the Parks Department to become a highly successful real estate agent, but Donna always remained Donna. Sassy, classy and badassy!
April Ludgate-Dwyer (Aubrey Plaza) was not my favorite throughout most of the show, I will admit, but she really grew on me in the last two seasons. She is another character who, despite her quirks and flaws, remains true to herself. She is a strong-willed and caring person - when she wants to be - and even though she doesn't have all the answers, she isn't afraid to try new things in order to get closer to her goals.
Ann Perkins (Rashida Jones) is perhaps the most bland of the bunch (her?), but she has a big heart. She is always there when you need her, proving she is the ultimate gal pal. She even manages to wear down April, who bore Ann a grudge because of Andy (April's husband, Ann's ex). Her willingness to kill 'em with kindness is, I think, quite admirable.
Where do I even begin with Joan (Mo Collins)? She is Pawnee's larger than life celebrity and hottest mess, but she also does not shy away from letting it all hang out. We wish we had her confidence, and that hair! Her gotcha journalism screws Leslie over on many an occasion, but one does have to admire her tenacity for doing her job well and creating her own headlines.
The Tammys - Tammy One, Ron's first wife, Tammy Two, Ron's second wife and the Tammy I shall dub Tammy Three, Ron's mother - may be an odd choice for this list but these three women who bear the same name are strong women. Perhaps some of the strongest we have encountered in this show. They are intimidating, demanding, and weirdly loyal, especially when it comes to Ron (portrayed by Nick Offerman). Leslie holds her own with them to be sure, and even supports Ron in every way he can to be rid of his horrific ex wives and mother. In one particular episode, however, it is Ron who steps in to end Tammy One, Tammy Three and Leslie's fight over him. That might have been a slight cop out, but it just goes to show that Ron knows these women well. Without his intervention, I'd like to think the Tammys and Leslie would have been in a fight to the proverbial death, as the three women together in the same room amount to the strength of the British Navy during its glory days. Tammy Two (portrayed by Megan Mullally, Nick Offerman's real life wife) is out of this world insane, so whenever she comes on the scene, everyone is on edge.
Flawed as they may be, the women are uncompromising, incredibly confident in their own quirky ways, but also know when they've been beaten. When something doesn't work out, they adapt and bounce back because they all have each other's backs (except for the Tammys). I wish I could have worked with these inspiring ladies!