The Ballad of Kenneth Parcell

Of all of the characters in the “30 Rock” universe, Kenneth Parcell (Jack McBrayer, “Late Night with Conan O’Brien”) certainly has the most fascinating backstory. Originally simply a hyper-modest, folksy NBC page, by the end of the series (spoiler alert, also why have you not seen 30 Rock?) he has become an immortal being who will serve as head of NBC presumably forever. In this post, I’ll break down the transformation. 

As I mentioned, Kenneth began as a rather flat character. In the show’s first season, much was made of Kenneth’s innocence. However, Jack prophetically predicts, after an intense game of cards, that Kenneth will one day either rule them all, or kill them all. (Does this also explain what happened to Josh?)

Gradually, bits of Kenneth’s background began to fill in. His folksiness grew, and he often referred to his hometown of Stone Mountain, GA (actual hometown of show writer Donald Glover) and the simpler life he left back home to fulfill his page duties. He would also begin referring to his stepfather Ron, who is implied to be quite the awful man.

Starting around season three, the show begins working in hints about Kenneth’s agelessness. For example, he refers to his birth year as “nineteen[mumbling]”, and gets strangely defensive whenever the matter of his age is brought up.

Furthering the mythology, in the show’s second live episode, flashbacks of television shows from the past seem to indicate that Kenneth has worked as a page at NBC perhaps since the very beginning. It makes sense — who would make a better tour guide to visitors than someone who not only knows the history, but lived it too?

By the end of the series, all subtlety is gone. The show continues to reference his agelessness, and his status as some sort of otherworldly entity; his mom refers to how Kenneth spoke to her moments after his own “birth”. Ron (Bryan Cranston, winner of television) turns out to be an okay, if pretty dorky, guy. And in the finale, we learn that Kenneth will one day ascend the ranks to become the leader of NBC (and greenlight “30 Rock”… Does that make Tina Fey Liz Lemon’s granddaughter?)

Naturally, this is all confusing. Why is Kenneth immortal? How is he immortal? Why would an immortal, otherworldly being’s purpose in life be to become head of NBC, of all things? 

The answers lie only in the comedic genius of Tina Fey and her writing staff. If for some reason you haven’t already, check out 30 Rock on Netflix or in syndication. 

Sitcoms

The New American Dream, as Told Through Liz Lemon of “30 Rock”

Once upon a time, the “American Dream” was simple. We wanted to start from the bottom and work to the very top, find a career we love that pays us well, find the love of our lives by maybe 30 at the latest, have 2.5 kids and a picket fence like everyone else.

That “dream”, however, has become just that. Starting from the bottom only leaves us fighting to not ever fall back down to the bottom. Finding a career we love doesn’t guarantee good pay or even satisfaction. And now we’re just happy to find a love to make the days easier, with the kids and the picket fence being a distant goal to strive toward.

As the unlucky-in-love main character in NBC’s 2006-2013 sitcom “30 Rock”, Tina Fey’s Liz Lemon embodies what has come to be the new version of our American dream. She works as the head writer for her own sketch series, but loses all power over it when an aloof, arrogant new star is added. It’s far from an ideal situation, and ruins what Liz once thought was an almost-perfect life.

Like Liz, many modern-day Americans live in less than ideal situations. Some people tend to sit around and sulk over this, or simply accept it as what will always be their reality. However, nowadays the ability to push through these situations and make the best of what one is given has become a hallmark of the new American dream and spirit. Liz, for example, learns to love her uncontrollable work environment, realizing it gave her the opportunity she had been longing for to be motherly as well as a sense of purpose beyond making a TV show.

Liz also faces a less-than-ideal love life, beginning the series being stuck in an on-and-off relationship with Dennis Duffy (Dean Winters), who is undeniably the worst. She spends the overwhelming majority of the show’s run dating a series of undesirable guys, all the while suffering from the ticking-clock mentality of a single woman in her mid-to-late 30s. For all her struggles, however, Liz never gives up, and eventually meets Criss (James Marsden). Criss has an absurd name, is a few years younger, and has what is at-best a questionable source of income. None of this is to say that he isn’t a great guy; he just is obviously not what Liz had dreamt of. She doesn’t let this set her back either, though. She marries Criss, in a courthouse rather than the wedding of her dreams, and adopts rather than having children herself. And yet, in spite of what may seem like setbacks, Liz is happy.

That’s what our modern American dream is all about. We aren’t going to have it as easy as we may have hoped. Life isn’t going to go how we wanted it to, and there’s nothing we can do about that. However, through taking agency of our lives and working to make the best of what we do have, we may just find that what we end up with is just as good, if not better, than what we had ever wanted.

Discussion Sitcoms

2015 Emmys Reactions: Hamm finally won!

The 2015 Emmys award show was broadcast last night, one of the biggest award shows in show business cataloguing excellence in television. It was a night of a few very notable moments, and mostly satisfying picks. Let’s just dive right in and talk about what went well, what didn’t, and what else was worth noting.

Speeches

There were a couple of terrific acceptance speeches last night. Viola Davis delivered the speech of the night, seen below via YouTube, reflecting upon the weight of her accomplishment as the first black woman to win Lead Actress in a Drama Series.

Jeffey Tambor also had a lovely speech, thanking the transgender community for their support and their courage. Overall it was clear that the tone of the night’s speeches was one of encouraging the righting of social wrongs.

TRACY!!!

Tracy Morgan, still recovering from his accident last year, made an inspiring appearance. He looked good, although very somber, and spoke earnestly about the support he’s received. He stumbled a couple of times, and it’s clear that he’s still recovering, but he did show flashes of the old Tracy. For example, he assured the women in the audience that some of them would be getting pregnant after the show.

Hamm wins, but snubs elsewhere

Jon Hamm finally won Best Actor, in his last year portraying Don Draper on “Mad Men”. Many speculated, apparently correctly, that there was no way they could snub Hamm this year after years of waiting.

That doesn’t mean there weren’t snubs, though. Jonathan Banks did not win for his excellent performance in “Better Call Saul”, and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” was snubbed across the board. Amy Poehler did not win for her last year as Leslie Knope on “Parks & Recreation”. Quite frankly, there should be as much outrage over this as there would have been if Hamm hadn’t won, but it seems to be a footnote to most.

Other Winners

“The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” got to collect one last round of Emmys on its way out, “Transparent” brought home Amazon’s first five Emmys, and then I think “Game of Thrones” won everything else. The show is great, yes, but how frustrating must it be to have to go up against it in any given category?

Overall it seems like, despite a few notable snubs, this year’s Emmys awards seem to have gone to their rightful owners. Next year should be interesting, with the end “Mad Men” creating a nice opportunity for other drama shows to step up. Early prediction: still mostly “Game of Thrones”.

Sitcoms TV News

The League / “The Draft of Innocence”: What the hell just happened?

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This week’s episode of The League, “The Draft of Innocence”, proceeds as a normal episode until suddenly shit gets weird. The grade is relatively arbitrary; I genuinely can’t decide if it was a good episode or not. But nonetheless… Let’s go ahead and dive right in.

The Good

Russell (Rob Huebel) is back! He supposedly has reigned in the sex addiction once again, but it seems that cheese is his newest vice; he has plans to vacation in Wisconsin suspiciously close to a giant cheese festival.

Andre and Meegan are brilliant as a couple, as they are both the worst. Meegan is almost more perfect than Trixie was at matching Andre’s obnoxious energy and taste. They come up with the idea of a Gilded Age theme for the draft, and everyone has to just go along with it.

Pete brings Rafi (Jason Mantzoukas) as his plus-one, and Rafi is always a welcomed presence in any episode. Mantzoukas has a few gems tonight, from treating a watermelon like his girlfriend to shouting in favor of homicide in a street fight because he “wants to see a ghost.”

The Bad

Why is the draft suddenly auction-based after all these years? It seemed like a strange change to make, with the only noticeable effect being Rafi’s kidnapping fiasco.

The episode ends on a very bizarre note, with Andre heroically fighting off the gang of Asian chefs(?) who were threatening the gang. Where the hell did that come from? Has winning the Shiva given Andre some sort of invincibility? I’m not even sure this is a bad thing, it was just jarring.

Other Observations

  • Ruxin has trouble getting along with anyone in public settings, doesn’t he?
  • Meegan and Andre are “sapiosexuals”, meaning they are attracted to each other’s intelligence. It is amazing how this show manages to make Andre more pretentious, even when it seems impossible to go any further.
  • Taco’s “napkin glove” isn’t a terrible idea.
  • Chuck (Will Forte) returned! But he has “gum” cancer, so that’s a bummer.
  • I wonder how Stephen Rannazzisi’s 9/11 lie revelation will effect the show’s ratings? He screwed up big time, and the show is already pretty low in the ratings… probably a good thing this is the final season.
Sitcoms

Fall 2015 Sitcom Preview

It’s that time of year again, time for network television to debut its latest offerings in the sitcom category. Let’s review what’s coming up, and see if it sounds like it’s worth watching.

ABC

The Muppets

ABC’s most anticipated sitcom offering comes in the form of a revival of The Muppets, framed as a workplace mockumentary sitcom. It revolves around the action behind the scenes of Miss Piggy’s fictional late-night talk show, making it sound like a Muppet-ized The Larry Sanders Show. I’m not at all against that. The showrunner, Bob Kushell, has an impressive resume, and co-creator Bill Prady also co-created The Big Bang Theory, which is… good? I’m giving this one a thumbs up; I may even review the first episode.

The Real O’Neals

This one apparently caused a controversy with conservative groups due to Dan Savage’s involvement. Directed by Todd Holland (Larry Sanders, Malcolm in the Middle). Not much else of note.

Uncle Buck

A remake of Uncle Buck, but the twist is that everyone is black now. The cast (Mike Epps, Nia Long) is encouraging, but probably not enough to overcome a lazy remake-driven premise.

Dr. Ken

Apparently this one has been getting some ugly reviews, which is really unfortunate because I had high hopes for a series starring Ken Jeong. I watched some promos available on YouTube, and… well, unfortunately this one may not work out. There’s always next time, Dr. Jeong!

CBS

Life in Pieces

This one is quite the anomaly. Scheduled to follow up The Big Bang Theory, this show offers a single-camera, toned-down experience that, if the sneak peeks available on YouTube are any indication, is actually pretty decent. The cast is impressive: Colin Hanks, Betsy Brandt (Breaking Bad, that Michael J. Fox show), and various other solid supporting members. I think I’ll have to give this one a chance.

Angel from Hell

Weird, and high-concept. Jane Lynch is an angel guiding a dermatologist. I’m not saying this one is getting cancelled after the first 13, but…

FOX

The Grinder

This one shows a lot of promise. It’s a courtroom comedy starring the always-charming Rob Lowe, with Fred Savage (The Wonder Years) and Mary Elizabeth Ellis (Always Sunny) also starring. FOX is notoriously pretty bad at keeping sitcoms alive, but this one could work, especially if paired with Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

Grandfathered

Another somewhat promising one, Grandfathered, offers John Stamos (Full[er] House, ER) as a bachelor forced to deal with his son (Josh Peck, Drake & Josh) and a grandbaby as well. The premise seems a little lazy (and maybe a little like a re-worked Raising Hope) but the talent involved inspires at least a tiny bit of confidence. Will I watch it? Probably not, but I could see it carving a niche on FOX, where sitcom ratings standards are pretty low to begin with.

NBC

Truth Be Told

Yikes. NBC really is done with sitcoms, at least for the fall season. Only one new offering starting off in the fall, while Miranda Cosgrove’s Crowded will act as a midseason replacement. Truth Be Told seems pretty bland; an unknown cast, a relatively unknown creator, and a premise (two couples interacting, basically) that inspires little confidence. I guess NBC felt the need to at least throw one new sitcom onto the fall schedule.

Honorable Mention: Crowded

Crowded, of course, is planned as a midseason replacement. It stars Miranda Cosgrove, and will apparently be a multi-camera offering. I can’t say that I’ll be watching, but Cosgrove has a fanbase from iCarly that could make an impact, if they tune in.

The Verdict

In my not-so-professional opinion, it seems like The Muppets, Life in Pieces, and The Grinder are the new sitcoms most worth tuning in for. I’ll probably try to review the pilot episodes for each of them. Only time will tell which will survive, or more importantly which will be worth watching.

Sitcoms

Why We All Love “Meta” Humor

Whenever a show makes a joke referencing itself, fans go crazy. Shows like Community formed their entire reputation off of self-referential humor. But what is it about being “meta” that viewers love so much?

Breaking the Wall

One reason we love “meta” moments is that it breaks the inherent artifice of the medium. We know we are watching television, the people making the show know we are watching, so why not make that connection? With the introduction of single-camera shows, there is more than ever a sense of connection with the characters; the absence of a studio audience (or, dare I say, laugh track) creates a more intimate viewing experience, as does the less-homogenized filming format.

Makes Us Feel Smart

When a viewer encounters a self-referential joke, there tends to be a certain pride in having “got the joke”. Not everyone can grasp “meta” humor, and not many people even look for it. It lets us run off to Reddit to chat with others who are in-the-know, and gives us something to explain to our friends when we watch it with them while they look at us like we’re freaks. We like to feel smart and like we understand an inside joke, so “meta” humor serves us well.

Connects Us to Characters

Meta humor that breaks the fourth wall can allow the characters to connect directly with the audience. It can be taken to such extremes as It’s Garry Shandling’s Show, the king of meta, where Shandling would directly address the audience (both in the studio and at home) for most of the episode. This allows us to feel like we’re interacting with the characters on the screen in front of us. It’s kind of like Dora the Explorer for adults.

Ultimately, meta humor has a certain appeal, especially among TV nerds like myself. And shows willing to experiment with it always seem to be rewarded.

Discussion Sitcoms

“The League” Opens Its Final Season on a Strong Note

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Long-running sitcoms can be hard to judge accurately. On one hand, any show that can survive six or seven seasons is worthy of some sort of praise for doing so. Most shows, especially sitcoms, tend to fizzle out after just three or four years unless they manage to capture a vast audience. On the other, most shows (again, especially sitcoms) tend to enter their decline after 4 or 5 seasons.

“The League”, now entering its seventh and final season, has certainly shown its age at times over the past season or two. However, with any aging show given the chance to end things on its own terms, there is the hope that the creative team behind it will rally around the show’s impending exit, leading to a sudden resurgence in quality. The recently ended Parks and Recreation, for example, made up for dull points in its last few seasons by delivering a creative, powerful final installment. This begs the question of whether the talented folks behind “The League” will be able to do the same.

For its seventh season, the show begins by switching things up a bit: rather than opening with the league’s fantasy draft, they open with the actual NFL Draft (which occurred this year in their hometown of Chicago) as the center of the story. Jenny wins a trip to the draft to announce Chicago’s pick, while the league determines how to go about hazing Taco for winning the Sacko/Ruxin.

The good

As mentioned earlier, long running shows can often drop in quality. For sitcoms this usually means weak and/or recycled jokes. Last season was rather hit or miss for The League, but at least through one episode the jokes seem to be working.

Taco as the Sacko was a brilliant move for the show, as it creates a unique problem for the gang: how do you humiliate and punish someone who has no shame and kind of likes being punished? Taco’s backwards ways lead him to eagerly attempt to humiliate himself in anticipation, and the others bristle at the realization that this whole Sacko punishment thing really means nothing to Taco.

Of course, this ultimately leads to the return of Mr. McGibblets, Taco’s oversized costume of a popular in-universe kids’ toy. It was a welcomed callback from a show that struggled last season at times to make callbacks seem organic rather than forced.

And let’s not forget the new plot point of Andre becoming an item with Pete’s generally-awful ex-wife Meegan. That promises to be entertaining.

The bad

I didn’t quite gather why Kevin (and the rest of the guys) felt that Jenny owed it to Kevin to give him the whole “announce a draft pick” experience. She won it, and wanted to do it, so why expect her to give it up?

Similarly, the guys seem satisfied with the end result of Taco and Jenny skirmishing on stage and we close on that, even though it resolves neither issue at hand.

The otherwise notable

Marshawn Lynch appears briefly in a scene mocking the Seahawks’ decision to pass on the final play of last season’s Super Bowl rather than to just run it in, a decision which quite literally cost them the game. I wonder how pleased his coach and teammates were to see that…

Conclusion

Overall this felt like an average episode of The League, which is really what was needed after last season’s premiere attempted to take on a bit too much. Here’s to hoping the season goes well and leaves us with fond memories of the show once it’s gone.

Sitcoms

Revisiting the Flawed, Experimental 4th Season of “Arrested Development”

When it was announced in late 2011 that Netflix had contracted with Mitchell Hurwitz and his crew to begin filming on a fourth season of the beloved hit sitcom Arrested Development, the internet erupted in collective joy. The show, canceled after just three seasons on FOX in the mid-2000s, had long been mourned by fans for having been gone too soon. Many petitions were started through the years to bring the show back in some form, and finally the call had been answered years later. Excitement began as details leaked slowly, building to a May 2013 debut. However, the fourth season wasn’t quite what we had all hoped for. So what exactly went “wrong”?

Format

The format of the fourth season was ambitious. Initially, Hurwitz had intended upon it being a “pick-your-adventure” format, where you could see one character doing something in the background, then pause the episode and go find where it’s happening in another episode. However, this format proved a bit too ambitious and never really came to fruition. Instead, it ended up being pieced together in the form of telling each character’s story from their perspective, thereby still creating some overlap in characters’ storylines but making it somewhat nonsensical to try to watch it out of order. In fact, viewing out of order turned out to not be an option at all, as in typical Arrested Development fashion many jokes would be alluded to in certain episodes but only fully explained once or twice, meaning someone trying to view the episodes out of order would be as lost as someone trying to watch a season three episode with no context. The format chosen was likely the best that could be done given the significant amount of expositional work needed as well as the filming constraints (more on that shortly).

Story

The storyline in the fourth season is not too bad, but is perhaps a bit more complicated than necessary. Michael, wishing to restore his family’s status, re-launches the construction company, but this quickly fails and he jumps into trying to get a movie made about his family. The “meta” aspect of this is worth appreciating, sure, but it comes across as relatively forced. Likewise, the love triangle between Michael, Rebel, and George Michael comes across as an excuse to have Michael and his son fight, as well as to re-focus the show around George Michael’s character while painting Michael as basically being just as bad as the rest. It was a disappointing knocking-down of Michael; while he certainly had his selfish and aloof moments in the first three seasons, he still was “normal” enough to act as an audience surrogate. In the fourth season, the writers very clearly wanted to emphasize George Michael as the relatable and prominent one, likely due at least in part to Michael Cera’s new role as a producer for the show. Meanwhile, the other characters trotted along aimlessly as usual, but their aimlessness took on more prominence given entire episodes to let it play out. Tobias continues trying to act, GOB suddenly decides he’s gay, Buster searches hopelessly for a maternal figure, and the rest really don’t do much of interest despite having entire episodes dedicated to them. And of course there were the usual recurring jokes peppered in there, but even those felt shoehorned in for audience gratification rather than being as organic as they felt in earlier seasons. The show was still entertaining, don’t get me wrong, it just wasn’t the quality we had come to expect from this group. Put simply, the Bluths just aren’t the same when they’re not together.

The Constraints

And now we will discuss why they weren’t together. As it turns out, it’s incredibly complicated to gather a large cast of successful, in-demand actors back together after 7 years of a show not existing. Cast members had previously had a running joke wherein the reason a fourth season was not happening was because Michael Cera had become too famous to come back and do it. While they may have been joking, it was the exact same issue (granted not only on Cera’s part) they ended up facing while they tried to shoot season four. Jason Bateman was beginning to move into film, Cera obviously was well-established there already, Jeffrey Tambor always seems to have work (as well he should, the man is a national treasure), Will Arnett is equally always busy. And that’s not even taking into consideration that Jessica Walter (Archer) and Tony Hale (Veep) were committed to other sitcoms at the time. As a result of trying to make all of these schedules match up, and trying to put out a finished product as fast as possible, green screens were heavily utilized and many scenes were written specifically to allow for editing tricks. Editing was done with the intent of creating coherent episodes, meaning elements such as the obviousness of the green-screen scenes were overlooked in the interest of time. The end result was a collection of heavily edited, somewhat disjointed episodes that came together to tell a story in much more time than what was needed to do so, with the overwhelming majority of the storytelling being done via Ron Howard’s ever-present voiceover because it was simply the only way to bring it all together coherently.

So what now?

Season four was underwhelming by AD standards, plain and simple. However, it was still “good” in a general sense, and still makes us want to see what happens next. Netflix, happy with the hype season four generated, has ordered a fifth season. But will it be any better this time around? If anything the cast has become less available, with Bateman launching a successful film career and Arnett now having a critically-acclaimed show (Bojack Horseman) of his own finally. Meanwhile, Hale and Walter remain committed to their shows, and Tambor looks to be in line to win a few Emmys with Amazon’s Transparent. Hurwitz and the cast seem intent upon this fifth season, however, and they all seem to acknowledge that the fourth season wasn’t as strong as it could have been. But will Netflix, and a hungry fanbase, be patient enough to allow filming to resume only when all the Bluths can be together? Only time will tell, but regardless it’s hard not to feel like this continued effort to keep the show alive is only harming its once-bulletproof status among TV fans.

Discussion Sitcoms

Six Seasons and a Movie: Determining Community’s Legacy

When Community‘s third season came to a close, disappointment was widespread. The show was at the time hailed as one of the last remaining great sitcoms, capable of capturing a crazily devoted (if not particularly sizable) following. That being said, the writing was on the wall: there was behind-the-scenes drama brewing in the form of bickering between creator Dan Harmon and perpetual asshole Chevy Chase, cast members were starting to pop up in rumors for other projects, and the third season did a good enough job of wrapping things up that it truly did come across as the end. It seemed as though the show was destined to go out relatively on its own terms as yet another classic show that simply couldn’t find a broader audience.

Then came NBC’s shocking decision: they would renew Community for a fourth season, while dropping Harmon as showrunner and bringing in a duo (Moses Port and David Guarascio) of relatively unknown writers to helm the revived project. This new team did its best to match the tone of the first three seasons, but with much of the original staff gone and Harmon’s creative touch lost, the entire season just felt “off”. Not helping matters at all, Chase would decide to quit the show prior to the end of filming, leaving a couple of episodes at the end where his character is simply shrugged off as being missing. Once the internet’s favorite sitcom and a frequent conversation topic, the buzz for Community had been irreparably damaged.

NBC, realizing they had screwed up, decided to go out on a limb and renew the struggling show for a fifth season while also signing on Harmon to return as the showrunner. However, the damage had been done. Harmon and his reassembled group struggled to recapture the original charm of the show, and new dilemmas arose: they would not only have to replace Chase’s character, but now Donald Glover would be departing (amicably) after five episodes to focus on his rapping career as Childish Gambino. Jonathan Banks (Better Call Saul) was brought in to replace Chase’s character and performed phenomenally as expected, but would have to leave at the end of the season to begin filming on his new show. Not even the replacements would stick around. The show seemed done.

Nonetheless, the show found a home for its sixth season on Yahoo!, hours before the cast’s contracts were set to lapse. Paget Brewster (Criminal Minds) and Keith David were brought in to soften the blow of the now three original cast members to depart (Yvette Nicole Brown would depart shortly before filming began). The show soldiered on, and remained as consistent in quality as one could possibly expect. However, with so many upheavals in cast and crew as well as a lackluster roll-out on Yahoo! Screen, the show had completely lost all hype. Once a force to be reckoned with on social media, the show was now lucky to trend on Twitter at all.

So now that the show is almost certainly over (barring only a potential movie), where does it land in the lexicon of great sitcoms? Does it land there at all? It’s a complicated issue to consider. Community is perhaps the best show to ever have to experience the level of upheaval and controversy it did. The show has hit syndication on local stations and Comedy Central and figures to remain there for at least a few years, making it at the very least a profitable entity. It never received much award buzz, but that doesn’t necessarily mean much. The biggest issue is that its once passionate fanbase has seemingly moved on, losing interest through its various twists and turns of development hell. Perhaps one day Community will be revisited and appreciation will return, but for now it seems as though the show has made a relatively unceremonious departure.

Discussion Sitcoms

The Curious Case of Burt Macklin

For Parks and Recreation viewers, Burt Macklin is a familiar name; Macklin is, of course, the FBI secret agent alter ego of Pawney’s lovable buffoon Andy Dwyer (Chris Pratt, of “every blockbuster movie lately” fame). Macklin was a character Andy would pull out to lighten the mood, or sometimes when he genuinely wanted an adventure. Macklin was clearly imaginary… Or was he? Today I’m here to propose to you my alternate theory: Bert Macklin is real, and Andy is made up.

Think about it. Imagine that the federal government higher-ups caught wind of the Pawnee parks and recreation department. In their fervent Ron Swanson-esque anti-efficiency stances, they would be up in arms over Leslie Knope and her crew. They couldn’t allow even the least consequential local government agencies to run smoothly and effectively. As such, they called in one of their best men, Burt Macklin of the FBI. Macklin was trained for months in the art of sabotaging government operations. The FBI even invented an alter ego for Macklin, “Andy Dwyer”, an unsuspecting goof.

But things got complicated for poor Macklin. The mission grew lengthy, and he grew attached to the people he was assigned to destroy. He fell in love. Unable to live with the guilt of hiding his true identity, he began referring to himself as Burt Macklin, pretending that it was a goofy alter-ego he made up. Everyone just kind of shrugged and went with it, thinking, “Oh Andy, that goof!” Of course, this would only make poor Macklin more frustrated, as not even his wife could know the real truth. Years into his assignment and with all hope of completing it lost, Macklin finally accepts Andy Dwyer as his permanent identity, “retiring” the “Burt Macklin character” once and for all.

Or maybe Andy is just a goofy guy who likes to invent characters and play pretend. Both are equally plausible.

Sitcoms