Friday, November 24, 2017

Parks and Recreation Supplemental Post: Donna Meagle

Via Giphy
In Season Six's "Fluoride," April makes the observation that there is no dog in the world that could embody Donna's spirit because Donna is a cat. And you know what? It's true, and it's probably why I like her so much. I mean, don't get me wrong: I love dogs. Zola is one of the best things in my life, and in a few years, I'd even like to get another one. But cats? I love me some cats. I want all the cats. I would adopt three more if it wouldn't overwhelm my apartment and the three cats already living there.

But I digress.

Donna Meagle is hard to write about, even if she is one of my favorite characters. From the get go, Donna is portrayed as aloof and difficult to get to know. Leslie has a very short, but to Leslie, exceptionally positive interaction in Season Two's "Pawnee Zoo," which was basically Donna seeing her outfit and commenting that she looked good and was "going to turn somebody" that night. Donna probably forgot about it two seconds later, but Leslie was just ecstatic with their conversation.
Via Pinterest
With each new bit of information we get on Donna, we realize she is even more complex than we previously thought: she's traveled, has an extensive network of people all across the world for her business purposes, and, as I've mentioned before, has a very active sex life. She's also incredibly insightful, as seen by her nailing*April's personality in "Fluoride," and kind, as evidenced by her "misspelling" Garry's name at her wedding to Joe. She also has an extremely wealthy and successful family, who are a "cold people" and also somehow includes Ginuwine. Like ... okay, I strive for that level of mystery, but I am way too much of a loudmouth for that to actually happen. So really, it's that I want that level of randomness in my life because damn if it doesn't sound thrilling. It's not even the money that I want, just the experiences that Donna must have had.

But when Ann Perkins and Chris Traeger moved to Michigan, Donna became a much more central character, even adding Retta to the opening credits. As much as I (and Leslie) love Ann, her departure really let Donna shine in so many ways - Retta is such a talented actress and comedienne - but especially as a friend. Her public trial after sending an inappropriate tweet from the parks and rec department made her relationship with Leslie a focal point - we discover that Leslie's nickname for Donna is El Diablo, for ... Leslie reasons, I guess - and it reminded me so much of my own friendships (you punks know who you are) that it actually brought tears to my eyes. We annoy the hell out of each other with our various habits, but ultimately, we would cut a bitch the first time anybody fucked with one of us. Everything about April handling Donna's wedding shows that the two women have become as close to best friends as April would ever get; she even invites Donna's estranged brother because she knew that Donna would be a little disappointed in the lack of drama in the event. Donna is even involved in the prank on Ben, saying afterward that she knows his drink is Miller Lite and that they only pranked him because he was 1) super uptight and 2) they loved him. Her relationship with Ron is based on mutual respect and a sincere understanding of who the other is as a person, showcased perfectly in Season Six's "Filibuster" where the two go hunting together after Ron completely botches a video game version of the real thing.
Via Tumblr
Her most enduring relationship, though, is with Tom. They celebrate Treat Yo'self every year, with each passing one outdoing the previous event, culminating in them going to Beverly Hills and eating fish that were previously owned by celebrities and bedazzling themselves with (I think) diamonds. They just get each other in a way that no one else does, not even their respective partners. So much of their friendship is them fawning over ridiculously priced items and being up-to-date on all of the trends, even the ones that leave Donna side-eyeing them, and while that may seem incredibly superficial, it's a partnership that Tom appreciates. He feels a kinship with Donna that almost rivals the deep bond between Leslie and Ann, and I loved every time the two worked together for whatever reason.

Seeing a platonic male-female relationship without an ounce of will-they-or-won't-they is so refreshing. I happily happen to have several of those friendships, but too often on television, unless someone is already attached to another person, some type of romance will blossom between two opposite sex characters (I'm still mad about the George and Izzy relationship from like ten years ago on Grey's Anatomy). And it's not because Donna is sexually unattractive. I've noted it several times throughout the Parks and Rec challenge, but it bears mentioning again: Donna is at no loss for male companionship. She is incredibly picky about her men - skilled positions only for Donna Meagle - but she doesn't have a hard time snagging any. I love that, although Joe wasn't necessarily waiting for her to come back to him, he is eager to begin dating her again, yearning to see her in "that red thing." But with Tom, that just never registers, and it's never commented upon, as I'm sure it could have been if Parks and Rec was a lesser show. They are best buddies and remain so, even after the cast parts ways for the future.
Via Buzzfeed
Even though I wish we had gotten more of Donna - Retta is just so damn phenomenal - I really do think the sparse information that manages to bubble to the surface is about as much of herself as Donna would want displayed. She's nearly as secretive as Ron, although it's not out of a weird paranoia; she just doesn't talk about herself that much and prefers to live her life as independently as possible. When she was negotiating restarting her relationship with Joe, she let him know exactly what he could expect from being in a relationship with her:
I like to do things. Museums, opera, nightclubs. Sometimes I disappear for a day or two 'cause I'm fly-fishing or I'm at a Seattle Sounders game. I promise not to cheat on you if you promise not to try to pin me down too fast. You can take me to dinner Friday.
It's one of the most Donna things she ever said on the entire show - fly-fishing? okay then, Donna - and I love that Season Six's "One in 8000" was the beginning of bigger and better storylines for her. The writers still kept a lot of her activities under wraps during most of the remaining two seasons, but she still felt a lot more well-rounded and defined than she did in earlier seasons. If we went any deeper, I feel like it would have destroyed the mystique that surrounded her, kind of like how had we ever found out what Ron's address was, his well-known obsession with his private life staying private would have been ruined.

I mean, I'm not gonna lie; I would totally watch a Donna Meagle show, if nothing else for the drama and hilariously ridiculous trends she follows. Wait, I wonder if there's a Donna Meagle Twitter ... Sigh. There is not. Dammit, NBC.


* "You're beautiful, yet cold and aloof. You pride yourself on being a loner. You do not obey; you choose to cooperate. And when you stop bearing your fangs to pick a mate, it's for life. And you're fiercely loyal to your pack, which makes you a rare black Siberian husky." And then of course Craig had to go lay down for AN HOUR. ONE FULL HOUR
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