'Parks and Recreation': Tom Haverford's greatest hits
There are a few certainties in Pawnee: Ron Swanson will choose meat over meetings. Jerry Gergich will serve as blame magnet. And Tom Haverford will like his chances with any attractive woman within a 50-mile radius. Indeed, one of the many comedic joys of NBC’s Parks and Recreation is watching Aziz Ansari’s tycoon-in-training — a local government staffer turned blinged-out CEO of (the now-bankrupt) Entertainment 720 — attempt to pick up fine females with absurd pickup lines gleaned from the hip-hop high rollers he worships.
“The design of that character was originally that he was constantly hitting on women but he was married,” says executive producer Mike Schur. “We knew from the beginning that the marriage to Wendy [Jama Williamson] was going to be a green-card marriage, and that it wouldn’t be as awful and jerky as it seemed. But once we lined it up with the comedy machine of Aziz Ansari and let him go — and played out that story and she left the show — it was like, ‘We’re not going to stop having that guy hit on women.’ It’s too enjoyable to watch.”
Of course, the trick to playing this playa is to revel in douchebaggery while still making him endearing and ultimately harmless. “Aziz is really good at knowing where the line is between funny and Tom Haverford-y, and sleazy and outright gross,” notes Schur. “[During shooting] he’ll often say, ‘I think this one is too much,’ and he’s always right.’” Ansari sums up his aspiring, flailing lothario thusly: “It’s a mixture of unbridled confidence and underlying desperation… I don’t think Tom has ever succeeded once in any of these pickup games, yet I love playing his optimistic attitude of ‘Nah, this time it’s a done deal!’”
It just so happens that tonight’s episode, “End of the World,” includes a bit of a romantic twist for Tom. Before you tune in, treat yo’ selves to this EW-exclusive gift from Schur & co. — a seven-minute salute to four seasons of Tom Haverford’s highly varied and creative come-ons. And yes, you are talking to the two sexiest thighs in landscaping.