Saturday, October 14, 2017

Parks and Recreation Supplemental Post: Ann Perkins

Via Gifrific
I'm going to start with Ann Perkins here because, well ... in my life and circle of friends, I am Ann. At first, I resented this because I'm not really the straight man kind of character that Ms. Perkins is - seriously, just ask my friends - but as I reexamined the character, I had that mindblowing realization that a big part of the reason I initially had issues with her was because I identified strongly with her series arc.
Ann was the grounding influence for Leslie throughout the first six seasons, frequently giving her side-eye and calling bullshit (in a kind, Ann-like way) on her over-the-top declarations*, and while I do tend to be somewhat impulsive**, I am weirdly the voice of reason for a lot of my friends. I give great life advice but have trouble recognizing when I should follow it. I think that's true for a lot of people, and honestly, it is definitely true for Ann.

I think the point that I realized Ann was me in Parks and Rec form was when Leslie pointed out that she took on her various boyfriends' personalities. With Andy, she wore a lot of plaid and seemed directionless herself; with Chris, she was hyper into fitness and picked up a lot of his speech patterns, and then there was the cowboy dude that had her dressing like Annie Oakley. I wasn't necessarily exactly like that, because I didn't really change so much as I abandoned what I wanted to do for the person I was with, the worst example of this being my ex-husband. Granted, there was abuse there, but I don't really want to talk about that here. After I left him, I found myself attracted to people who made me feel comfortable, and not in the "oh, I can be myself" type of comfortable. This was the "oh, this reminds me of what I've been used to and while it sucked, I at least knew what I was going to do" way. Not the healthiest way to enter relationships obviously. I needed to focus on me and remember who I am/was. Ann deciding to do what she wanted, regardless of her relationship status, was one of my favorite parts about Season Five, especially during my rewatch of the series for last month's challenge. It was actually incredibly inspiring, enough so that I started my own "try something new" that I've been mostly*** successful at doing.
Via Odd Stuff Magazine
Ultimately, though, I find that the dedicated friendship Ann has with Leslie is the main reason I love Ann as much as I do. They're each other's support system, balancing each of their strengths with their respective weaknesses. When many of my friends were lamenting that they'd never find their Ben, I was pouting about wanting my very own Ann/Leslie. A big part of that was how isolated I was at the time, completely removed from my family and friends and incapable of being able to make new ones****, so I would take solace in watching Ann and Leslie lift each other up, hoping that eventually I would get to that point with at least one other person.

I know that a lot of people found Ann to be a bland character with no real personality of her own, and I will admit that the writers didn't do as much with her as they did with, say, Ron Swanson or Ben Wyatt, when it comes to fleshing her out. But it was a much more subtle characterization for her: it took five seasons, but she finally realized that she was defined by the people around her and not herself. God, can I identify with that. Her journey is what makes Ann so relateable, especially her fellow social chameleons. My life is that journey right now, and knowing that Ann made it out okay gives me hope that, even though it might not be the perfect, sitcom-style okay, I will be happy and content with who I am.

* Leslie: What about a sexy hat?
   Ann: I don't even know what that is.
** I'm certain my sister will find this statement hilarious, but hey, I have improved! I haven't impulsively purchased a motorcycle in ten years!
*** I went to my first writing group meeting this past Thursday, and it wasn't dreadful! I met some great women and am so ready to start NaNoWriMo next month.
**** This was partly due to depression and also because I really had no way to go out and meet new people.
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