Sunday, September 3, 2017

30 Day Parks and Recreation Challenge, Day 3: Favorite Male Main Character

Since I'm all equal opportunity here, I'm going with the same approach to today's challenge as I did yesterday, because the male friendships are just as caring, nuanced, and important to the show as the female ones. Again, I have to shout out to the writers here because the ball could have been totally dropped at any point -  especially in the episode where the whole gang goes hunting (and Tom shoots Ron in the back of the head) - turning into a Friends thing, where the male stereotypes just go flying.

God, I am really dreading going back and finishing up that Friends challenge now.
Alright, back to Parks and Rec.
Via Socialite Life
Even though I went full series arc for the women, I'm going to choose one particular episode that perfectly encapsulates everything I love about the relationships between the men in the show: Season 6's "Ann and Chris." It's the final episode where Rob Lowe and Rashida Jones are part of the main cast, as their respective characters are moving to Michigan to start their family. While Leslie is planning a huge gesture to her best friend, the guys do a really shitty job of getting a gift for Chris - a gift card for three pans at Pots and Pans - after he went through a lot of trouble to get them very thoughtful going-away gifts (Ron got a trophy of a hamburger, Ben got framed audit sheets, Andy got a framed poster from the L'il Sebastian memorial concert where his band Mouse Rat played, Garry* got a framed picture of him officiating Leslie and Ben's wedding although you can't really see him in it, and Tom got a bottle of recalled Snakejuice).

In their own way, the men are just as eager as Leslie to send Chris off to his new life and the emotional scene where they deliver the Buddy Box (for Chris' soon-to-be-born son) is absolutely perfect. It shows how much the characters have changed because of each other. Ron is still very matter of fact, telling Chris that putting his tear in the buddy box could warp the wood and, as such, he should keep the tears in his eyes where they belong, but he's a kinder, more open person than he was before Chris barreled into his life. Even though he is still awkward (etching the initials of all the names he's had over the course of the series onto the box), Garry is definitely a full-fledged member of the group, and not just as a tag-along, and Andy, still kind of a complete idiot, has the supportive brothers he has probably always wanted. Tom is still the vain, materialistic one of the bunch (he thinks they should give Chris the 3 C's: cashmere, concert tickets, and cash), but he's matured into someone who is thoughtful in his own way Ben, who has the longest history with Chris, has been altered more by Leslie than anyone else, but, as he knows Chris the best, he is the one who suggested the buddy box in the first place, which, as Chris says later on in the episode, has his trademark Wyatt thoughtfulness and resourcefulness.

This show is not afraid to show the tenderer sides of the men, which is a slap in the face to the ridiculous machismo of shows like Friends, where Ross, Chandler, and Joey mock each other for doing feminine activities. Like with the women, these people are just that: people, with their own mix of feminine and masculine traits. As I said before, Tom is a very vain character, sure to use moisturizer so his neck doesn't get wrinkles, but also has a deep-seated motivation to conquer the business world. Chris is like one of those health nut moms, constantly finding alternatives to meat, but also finds fatherhood to be incredibly intimidating and has an authoritative yet friendly style to managing his team. Ben seems to really enjoy cooking (calzones are pizzas, just harder to eat, Ben) and co-parenting with Leslie and even serves as the calming force during her Type A tirades, but he also has a very hard exterior that he uses when in auditor mode. Arguably the most masculine of the group, Ron could have been written as a satire of the type of libertarians that I loathe**, but he instead has a deeply feminist vein in him, seeing Leslie as his equal, and it doesn't seem to detract from his "manliness." Andy could also be a stereotypical male with his adoration of the Colts and his general manchildness, but as the series progresses - especially after he and April get married - his kind soul and genuine love of his friends become key points in his character.

You know, I think I'm going to do supplemental posts throughout this month on this, dedicated to each main character, because this is totally getting way longer than I wanted and I feel like I need to do each character justice.

So ... here ends today's challenge!


BACK TO CHALLENGE

* I will use Garry's real name throughout this challenge because it's just respectful. 
** This is a whole other discussion to be had at a later date, if ever. It just gets me so riled up. 
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