mtv lifer writing a Joss Whedon biography to come out in 2014.
i watch a lot of television. a lot. and i talk about fandom and television in general a lot. when not slacking off, i'm rambling at PopGurls.com (not as much lately)
This article addresses the show’s issue with Ann really well:
The problem is that the show’s writers have never seemed to have a firm grasp on who Ann is outside of their friendship. She has had fun moments… But while other Parks and Rec characters have evolved over the course of the series—cocky Tom Haverford matured as he realized his entrepreneurial ambitions, apathetic April Ludgate become softer and more career driven due to her marriage and Leslie’s mentorship—Ann is pretty much the same person audiences met in the pilot.
“Will you just shut your beautiful piehole,” Leslie says to Ann after she disagrees with Leslie’s plan to extend a work project so that she can spend more time with her ex. “Just sit there, let me stare at you while you silently support me on this game plan.”
It’s a funny line, but one that also sums up the problematic nature of their friendship. Leslie loves Ann, but seems to view her as her cheerleader or sounding board, and little else. And the trajectory of this friendship hasn’t changed over the past six seasons: Leslie has a personal or professional dilemma, and Ann listens to her problems or assists her in some way…
Perhaps if Ann were given more to do on the show, her friendship with Leslie would be more equal. But the writers have never really attempted to deepen her character; for example, it never clarifies whether she is biracial, as her portrayer is. The fact that we have never met Ann’s parents or childhood pals or anyone else from her life, or know what her goals are beyond meeting Mr. Right or having a baby, is a disservice to the character.
Ann is a perfect best friend for Leslie; unfortunately she isn’t much more than that. Let’s put it this way: If Leslie were to craft a wedding dress for Ann made up of her greatest moments, it’s hard to picture what that dress would look like. — KIRTHANA RAMISETTI
(and it took six seasons to learn that Ann is from Michigan… which we found out from Chris.)
herbalsmoothie asked: I also find it disappointing that Leslie is (concretely) planning to have kids now. I think there've been some hints before Partridge that she might want kids; End of the World comes to mind, where she freaks out about Ben's potential future kids. Still, even though they're married now, it would be refreshing to see the show choose a less obvious route for what's next for her. And more than that, baby storylines are often terrible and indicate a lack of better ideas- and now Parks has 2 of them.
(answering this several days late!)
They really do indicate a lack of better ideas and the fact that they’re mushing two into the season makes me wonder where they are planning to take the series. The less said about Ann’s arc the better, and I get that the discussion would come up with Ben and Leslie now that they’re married. You have put much of my issues with the writers taking this tack so perfectly: “Even though they’re married now, it would be refreshing to see the show choose a less obvious route for what’s next for her.”
Parks hasn’t always taken the easy, obvious route for their characters even if things generally do work out for everyone. And for the most part, they have given us fairly unconventional characters that are believable and relatable, that we care about and want to follow them through their journey. I know that Mike Schur’s original plan was to have Leslie go through a number of bad dates/relationships until they developed the Ben Wyatt character* — so they have leanings to go superpredictable but it gives me hope that they respond and react creatively to unexpected changes and chemistry. (After this season, I’m hopeful but not holding my breath.)
* “When Greg Daniels and I were designing the show originally, we thought instead of putting Leslie in one significant relationship, we were going to have her date a lot of different people and learn different things from different types of guys. It’s why we introduced Louis CK’s character and Justin Theroux’s character. We wanted her to date guys who were different shapes of wrong for her and learn slowly what kind of man was right for her. And then Adam Scott was cast and we put them on-camera together and we thought, well, we’re not going to beat this.” — Mike Schur on Vulture