Monday, November 13, 2017

Parks and Recreation Supplemental Post: Garry Gergich

You know what makes me mad? That there are plenty of goofy or unflattering pictures of Jim O'Heir's Garry Gergich but are so few good ones on the internet. What makes it worse is that - and I have this on good authority - Jim is such a sweet, genuine person and deserves so much better than he receives.

Anyway, like I've said before, Garry tends to be mocked because of his weight and bodily functions, including Tom being ruthless about Garry passing gas while having a goddamn heart attack. I know so many people who found a "fart attack" to be hilarious, but I was incredibly offended that someone would be that callous. Donna is also overweight but it literally has no bearing on how people treat her - she is sexually active with plenty of attractive men out for her affections, and no one ever points out her size - but with Garry, it's completely foreign to them that a woman like Gayle would be attracted to him, and his eating habits and various health problems are constantly mentioned. I mean, it's refreshing to see Donna portrayed in this manner, yes; I praise the shit out of it and want more shows to write characters with diverse body types. While O'Heir does play the part with his characteristic cheeriness, Garry's appearance continues to be the butt of jokes, even at his funeral where Gayle's eternal youth and beauty are compared to Garry's lack of desirability.
Via Huffington Post
Although I could talk at length about how the show treats Garry, I'm going to focus on the positive: his family. I know it's supposed to be a joke that this incredibly average government worker has a ridiculously picturesque home life, but I find it to be life-affirming. He and Gayle actually remind me of a couple that comes into the pharmacy fairly regularly; if you are a cynical person, you might get physically sick at their sweetness, but seriously, they are the friendliest, most conscientious people on the planet, and their daughters are, too. When I met their daughters, I didn't realize who they were until after they'd left (they'd come to visit their parents for Rosh Hashanah), and after someone told me, I was like, "Well, of course they'd be kind and courteous! They were raised well."

We only get snippets of his family life throughout the show, and while I do wish we could have seen more of it, if only for Garry's sake, the amount of time that we are shown the Gergich household is actually pretty perfect. We see Garry in his natural habitat, completely comfortable and loved unconditionally, and he's catlike, dare I say graceful even, and confident, almost like having an environment that doesn't constantly tear you down is beneficial!
Via Gif-Finder
I even like that Gayle gets a little jealous of Garry's interactions with other people, like in "Jerry's Painting," where she actually calls and speaks to both Leslie and Tom in regards to the kind of relationship they might have with her husband. Now, jealousy in a partner is not something I look for, but for Garry, I think it builds him up further. But what I love the most about that scene is that Garry doesn't dismiss how Gayle feels because he doesn't think that he's worth the hassle; he just knows there isn't anything going on between him and his coworkers and wants Gayle to know that she can definitely trust him. It's seemingly a throwaway moment, as far as the show is concerned, because it's supposed to be absurd that Gayle should worry about an inappropriate relationship between her husband and his coworkers, but I think about that scene quite a bit. Gayle believes Garry to be a catch, and honestly? He is. He gives great advice*, is concerned about others, believes in a work-life balance**, is an excellent cook and dancer***, makes beautiful and thoughtful children, paints beautifully, and is genuinely just nice.

Garry's home life reflects exactly who he is: a family man who's goals were never meant to be achieved at work. He's fine being mediocre at the parks department if it means he can be home to eat dinner with his wife and daughters every night, and he doesn't want to feel the constant pull of duty to the job that Leslie does. Garry highlights a lot of what I like about Parks and Rec: that there is not one way for a character to live his or her life. Ron wants his privacy in all areas, Tom wants prestige and a constant inflow of cash, Donna wants experiences and luxury, April wants spontaneity and the absurd, etc. But Garry? Garry wants to wake up every day and spend as much time as he can with his family, and that is just as honorable as anything that any of the other characters desire.

* Usually. When he immediately supports Leslie's running for city council again as a "great idea," I groaned, "Oh, come on, Garry!" But even when he does give great advice, he's dismissed and ridiculed, because ... Parks and Rec, I guess. 
** Again, usually. Sometimes, he drops vacations because the parks department needs him. 
*** In "Anniversaries," Ben ends up spending most of his time with Garry and we learn a lot about Garry during this episode. It's probably one of my favorites. 
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