Tuesday, September 2, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

‘Parks and Rec’ mulls merits of modern men

decicco column sig

By
From page B1 | March 14, 2014 |

For a show with a woman as its protagonist, NBC’s “Parks and Recreation” has a lot to say about being a modern man.

The sitcom, which began life as a spinoff of “The Office,” has survived six seasons and seems poised for a seventh. The show has battled low ratings and annual questions about renewal throughout its run.

Although Amy Poehler shines as the show’s leading lady, former city councilwoman Leslie Knope, through its kaleidoscope of male characters, it shows the many shades of the modern man and masculinity.

While many bask in the alpha male glory of Nick Offerman’s Ron Swanson, the show offers a hodgepodge of male archetypes, from Swanson, who tends toward classic male traits, to thirtysomething man-child Andy Dwyer, played by Chris Pratt.

Where it makes them compelling is the details. Swanson, a woodworking, libertarian carnivore with an avowed aversion to displays of affection and hard work, is not given to the audience as a bulldozing tank of manliness. He did win Indiana Woman of the Year once, after all.

For all of Swanson’s old-school testosterone, he shrinks in the company of a self-possessed woman. Of his two ex-wives named Tammy, one turns him into a sex-crazed maniac while the other regresses him to an eager-to-please boy.

He enjoys working with Knope, a take-charge politician who aspires to prominent political heights. The two are often at opposite ends of the spectrum, but also share the sweetness of siblings.

Also unlike Swanson is Rob Lowe’s Chris Traeger, an effervescent health nut. The two faced situations which should end disastrously, but managed to find a happy medium, such as wager over managerial skills in which the only clear winner was Dwyer’s wife, April.

The show refuses to elevate Traeger or Swanson over the other, giving both of them opportunities to be the butt of the joke as well as the victor.

Another ongoing commentary on manliness is Aziz Ansari’s Tom Haverford, a chic entrepreneur who is sometimes as overeager in business as he is in pursuing women. Though often oppressive in his flirting and misguided as a businessman, Haverford has grown and shown maturity in later seasons, opening a profitable clothes rental business and dating a doctor.

Even Jim O’Heir’s Jerry Gergich, the lightning rod for his colleagues’ electric zingers, is given moments of sweet redemption, such as the touching reveal that he absorbs their charges because he values his home life much more.

While there are cartoonish moments for them all, Knope’s husband, Ben Wyatt, played by Adam Scott, tends to feel the most down to earth and realistic.

Wyatt is perhaps the show’s most well-developed man because, while he fits comfortably inside of Knope’s universe, he also has his own ambitions, directions and purpose. He doesn’t bend to his wife’s every whim and she doesn’t bend to his. He’s dealt with difficulty in his career – a disastrous, town-bankrupting turn as mayor in Minnesota at age 18 – but learned to mature, compromise and progress as a politician and a person.

Because Wyatt and Knope demonstrate each other’s strengths as well as weaknesses, it explains why they’re often the show’s healthiest relationship, although the Dwyers also make an unusual but adorable, loving pair.

Wyatt, Swanson, Traeger, Dwyer, Gergich and Haverford make the show’s take on masculinity less about filling a prescribed role than about simply being oneself. More than anything, that is the emotional truth of the array of men on “Parks and Recreation.”

Because it does such great creative service to all of its men, showing them as flawed as well as triumphant, it never holds any one above the others for long, underscoring that no one is greater than another, just different.

It may not be the most complicated of insights, but like the show’s point about being true to oneself, at least it’s genuine.

To read more of Nick DeCicco’s blogs, visit http://dailyrepublic.typepad.com/forthoseabouttorock. Follow him on Twitter @ndeciccodr.

Nick DeCicco

Nick DeCicco

Nick DeCicco is the editor of the Tailwind and writes the pop culture blog/column For Those About to Rock. Before joining the DR staff in July 2007, DeCicco (pronounced Deh-CEE-Coh) worked at The Union in Grass Valley, Calif., and the Greeley Tribune in Greeley, Colo. A 2004 graduate of the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, DeCicco spends his free time attending concerts, listening to music, going to movies, traveling and hiking.
LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Labor Day not a holiday for everyone

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Labor Day breakfast introduces union-backed candidates

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Pool provides last dose of summer fun in the sun

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
SafeQuest schedules peer counseling training course

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A5

 
Fairfield police log: Aug. 31, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Suisun City police log: Aug. 31, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Suisun City police log: Aug. 30, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Fairfield police log: Aug. 30, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

.

US / World

VP Biden says workers deserve ‘fair share’

By The Associated Press | From Page: , 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Obama: ‘Revving’ economy calls for higher wages

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

Senegal monitors contacts of 1st Ebola patient

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
San Francisco to be 1st to test urban farming law

By The Associated Press | From Page:

GOP challenger tries novel tactics against Brown

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
Texas’ Perry says disparaging tweet unauthorized

By The Associated Press | From Page:

US eating habits improve a bit – except among poor

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
No gray area: Beliefs shape views of Brown killing

By The Associated Press | From Page: , 1 Comment | Gallery

Americans detained in North Korea call for US help

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
Iraqi prime minister pledges to root out militants

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

Poland’s PM: Ukraine’s war must be stopped now

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
Pro-Russian rebels lower demands in peace talks

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

US helicopter crashes in Gulf of Aden; all rescued

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
.

Opinion

.

Living

Community Calendar: Sept. 2, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page:

 
.

Entertainment

Inquiries begin into nude celebrity photo leaks

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
‘Guardians’ tops Labor Day, summer box office

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

 
.

Sports

Kirk rallies to win the Deutsche Bank

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Rockies top Giants after losing end of suspended game

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Dunn homers in 1st at-bat as A’s top Mariners

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Right guard Boone passes physical, rejoins 49ers

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Raiders name rookie Derek Carr as starting QB

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Armijo beats Vanden 2-0 to claim All-City boys soccer title

By Brian Arnold | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Armed with new deal, Chiefs’ Smith looks forward

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Column: Stewart’s Chase status doesn’t matter

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Raiders ink CB Dowling, 9 others to practice squad

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Serena Williams, Djokovic roll to US Open quarters

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Houston Astros fire manager Bo Porter

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Hamels, 3 Phillies relievers no-hit Braves

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
.

Business

Markets drift as Wall Street has day off

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Austerity debate flares as Europe recovery fades

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

Civil disobedience expected in fast-food pay fight

By The Associated Press | From Page: , 1 Comment | Gallery

 
.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Beetle Bailey Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Zits Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Wizard of Id Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Sally Forth Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Bridge Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Blondie Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Rose is Rose Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Get Fuzzy Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Sudoku Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
B.C. Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Baldo Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Frank and Ernest Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Crossword Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Dilbert Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

For Better or Worse Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Peanuts Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Cryptoquote Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Garfield Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Word Sleuth Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7