terça-feira, 22 de julho de 2014

April Ludgate - from Parks and Recreation - is (one of) the worst TV´s comedy character ever.

This was originally going to be me analyzing some aspects of the series Parks and Recreation, but instead I just crammed what I intended to say into one piece, and if you already read the title you know what it is about.

I wanted to say that, while characters - especially in comedy series - have the prerogative of being annoying and irritating sometimes, I believe that there is a limit to it, be it an ethical, a charismatic, or whatever you care to name it, so it can become a character that we can, for the most of times, root for.

Comedic characters specifically, tend to get mixed in this confusion. But sometimes it is justified. Nobody is going to take a look at what Cartman´s character in South Park does as serious, because the show is so outright crazy it is very hard to do it. The Three Stooges brings another example of comedic, main characters that are just downright bonkers, and though I have never seen much of their episodes (and I don´t find their slapstick comedy in the least charming or appealing) at least is honest: you turn on to a Three Stooges episode and you know what you are going to get.

Adam Sandler´s comedic characters get flak for the surly way they are portrayed, and with good measure. For me, Adam Sandler´s character don´t have the charisma to lead a movie or whatever, because his characters are outright insane.

Also, to make comedy work, at least for my taste, the character has to have some flaws, that the writers and the in-universe characters recognize as such. Those flaws make the balance if the character decides to take advantage of some other character and don´t leave the viewer worried, because we know that the character will in turn be annoyed by some other problem in another instance. This provides for balance, and beauty, and thus provides for art, and in this case, untainted comedic value.

When a character is protected, as such, by the writers and the producers of the story, it creates an imbalance. The whole point of a character in a comedy show is that they are going to be made fun of, played with. If your character is protected in a way that s/he is not made fun of, while making fun of everyone else, then the show creates an imbalance and the character is not a comedic character anymore, nor the show a comedy, but a grotesquerie.

Take Friends, for example, a comedy show that is renown worldwide - it had amazing characters all balanced out and full of flaws that everyone in the cast made comedy to. Their characters are a) main characters because though they are flawed, they try to represent some ethic stance; it may be very feeble and weak, but still is a higher moral ground than most comedic characters before and after them. And B) they are comedic balanced characters because everyone has flaws that is used to be made fun of everybody else, drawing - or at least trying to - some kind of balance. It is true that this balance may not be done mathematically, and thus, not really balanced, but you have a sense of equality regarding everyone. Everyone makes fun, and everybody gets made fun as well. A balance.

After all that, now we can discuss the object of this. Enter April Ludgate, from Parks and Recreation.

This is for me the most mysterious aspect of this show. How did this character ever become so popular? Why this character enjoy this much protection from the writers and producers of the show? Nothing bad ever comes to April, she gets out of every situation without so much a glare to the screen. She´s just spoiled and generally disgusting. Every time I hear her slow dragged out voice, I just want to pull the hairs I have left in my head. She is outright bad to people, a thief (she freaking stole wallets from people, twice that I have seen so far in the show), she put honey on the purse of another female character, and she generally do stupid, absurd, out of the top insane stuff and doesn´t get anything in return!

I get how the CONCEPT of the character maybe APPEARS interesting. She´s a different kind of girl, who is sometimes justified about being sad in life - though she is a terrible person to almost EVERYONE she meets. And the worst part is, she almost never gets any comeuppance for it, like most of the other characters. It´s almost like the writers and producers and telling us that it´s alright to a sad, haughty pathetic excuse of a human being. 

To me, April Ludgate conjoins some of the worst aspects of female personality in one girl - the stupid bouts of self-centeredness, the vanity, the arrogance, the rolling eyes,... You name it, she has it. Not only of girls, though most of her traits are because she is a girl - but from people in general. She is just a horrible, horrible character. And the most surprising thing is that, were she real, she would be berated by practically everyone of her colleagues' real counterparts for being a bitchy, stupid, self-centered, lost and confused human being. 

But she is revered and excused, by the characters in the show, the writers, and also by the fans. Yes, she has fans. Unfreakingbelievable. Just type her name on your preferred search engine and you´ll see. 

She actually says that she stole the wallets of two freaking differently people, in their faces, and doesn´t get any kind of flak for that. None of the characters in the show acknowledge that she is freaking insane, though this happens to a lot of other, specially minor, characters. Generally characters like her, if they should exist at all, should be relegated to being a supporting role, much like Ron´s ex-wives!

There are crazy, stupid, and outright offensive characters in comedy works all the time - the thing is that they are supporting roles and/or antagonists, you mo-flucking writers!! Learn the freaking deal!

Once the actress who plays this character said that she toys with the character in a way for people to be confused about liking or hating the character. I, for one, am completely decided on the matter: I hate the character's innards with a passion.

I´m glad the show is finishing, but if it wasn´t, I would ask that her character be killed or something like that. She´s just a terrible, terrible character. 

But, at the end of the day, this is just a TV show, and the only concern I have is that people don´t take its characters at face value (least of all April Ludgate) and to think a little more about they are, and what they signify, and what are they being fed through the media before starting virtual web based cults about them.


P.s. Update 23/07/2014:

Not that the rest of the show´s characters (main characters nonetheless) are not as insensitive and cruel as people as well. And though the show´s weird (in a bad sense) mix of "heartfelt drama" with outright human and social cruelty is also one of the things that make it leave a bad aftertaste in your mouth, the worst of all is definitely April Ludgate.

This show needs to go to entertainment cemetery.


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