Since my post on Friday played defense (with a few reservations) for Zooey Deschanel’s Jess on New Girl, it seemed appropriate to kick off the week with an appreciation of a character who’s pretty much Jess’s opposite: April Ludgate of Parks and Recreation.
What I love about April, as played with quicksilver wit and subtlety by Aubrey Plaza, is how layered she’s become over the course of the series. In early episodes, she’s a sulky intern with a semi-permanent sneer. Frustrated with her small-town Midwestern life, she’s the first to roll her eyes at anyone who displays the slightest sign of sincerity or enthusiasm.
But the warm humanism of Parks and Rec won’t let that kind of blanket negativity stand for long. Part of the change comes as April falls for Andy, a character fittingly described by Margaret Lyons at Vulture as “a human golden retriever.” In contrast to April, Andy exists in a constant state of delighted wonder at the workings of Pawnee, frisbees, peaches, and shoe-shining. His innocent sunniness brings out new dimensions in April: she’s lighter and more free-spirited around him, and touchingly protective. Meanwhile, April both anchors Andy and broadens his worldview.
April’s other relationships cast new light on her character as well. She bonds with her boss, Ron, over a shared dislike of productivity in the workplace. His libertarian gruffness intersects perfectly with her hipsterhood — he’s pretty much her second dad. The show also introduces her sister, nearly identical in both looks and temperament; her doting, bizarrely cheerful parents; and her friend Oren — a tall, pale, raven-like creature who’s constantly freaking everybody out by predicting the dates of their deaths and hiding under tables. Over the course of the series, April has evolved into a richly drawn character: still snarky and sarcastic and a lover of all things weird, and fundamentally good-hearted too.