Let me preface this by saying that Parks and Recreation is currently my favorite show on network television. Its character development is absolutely topnotch. I am rarely able to watch Ron and Leslie have a serious talk about anything without getting teary-eyed. The jokes are consistently hilarious. The setting of Pawnee, Indiana is so well-drawn that it’s become yet another lovable character in the show.
But, all that said: I feel I need to point something out to you, Parks and Recreation. For your own good.
New Girl is beating you at something.
You must know how it pains me to say this. I like New Girl, sure. I like it much more now than I did at first, when the show still had the ridiculous notion that there is any human male who would not date Zooey Deschanel. Now that the show has started to build the surprisingly compelling personalities of its guy characters, it’s turning out pretty great.
But it’s no Parks and Rec. Not by a long shot.
At the moment both shows are running through “pretentious-douche-but-secret-nice-guy dates the protagonist’s best friend, who is both way too hot and sane to be dating someone like him” storylines. And, I have to say, I am totally more invested in Cece’s secret relationship with Schmidt than the fact that Ann and Tom are somehow still dating.
Ann just seems so annoyed with Tom all the time. The fact that Ann looks ready to wring Tom’s little neck every other second just endears the watcher less to both of them.
New Girl, on the other hand, approaches this storyline a little differently. For one thing, Schmidt has way more game than Tom. So his relationship with Cece is easier to buy.
Schmidt is also more lovable than Tom. Lovable in a romantic lead sort of way, I mean. Like Tom Haverford, Schmidt adores designer clothes, weird colognes, and hilariously stupid slang.
But unlike Tom, Schmidt’s antics are clearly rooted in deep insecurity. He was the awkward fat kid in college, and he latched onto the douchebag lifestyle as a way to deal. In other words, we can tell Schmidt won’t be a douchebag forever. He’ll grow up eventually.
Tom’s ridiculosity, on the other hand, isn’t rooted in insecurity at all. That’s just the way he is. And we love him all the more for it. He’s the absurd little brother that we’re all glad we don’t have, but also love to watch make up new names for things. (My favorite is calling forks “food rakes.”)
Both Cece and Ann are embarrassed by their silly, status-loving boyfriends—as most women would be. But you can kind of get in Cece’s corner more. She wants Schmidt to be less obnoxious, but I think Schmidt kind of wants that too, deep down. Tom is best off with a woman like his once-upon-a-time lady friend, Lucy, who accepted his zaniness and even loved him for it.
I understand that Parks and Rec needs to find some way to keep Ann relevant. But this is not the way. How about letting her date Ron? They had decent chemistry in that one episode where they fixed everything in Andy and April’s house together.
Or we could get into Ann’s past a little more. It’s never seemed like Ann grew up in Pawnee. Where is she from? Maybe she had friends in college or nursing school who could come on as guest stars and help to fluff her character up a bit.
I still love you best, Parks and Recreation; don’t worry. I’m just pointing out one maddening little annoyance that manages to affect the otherwise completely wonderful end product more than it should.