Tuesday, June 13, 2017

7 Reasons Why Orin is the Best Parks and Rec Character [Guest Poster: Rebecca]


I know I’m way late on the Parks and Recreation train, but I’ve finally gotten around to watching and finishing what I consider one of the greatest, funniest, most feminist and diverse network television shows. One of the few shows that made me actually laugh out loud, Parks and Rec was a roller coaster of emotion as we watched the Pawnee Parks Department evolve and change throughout the years.

In a tear-jerker of a final episode, we were shown the fates of all of our favorite characters: Leslie and Ben take on Washington, April and Andy settle down and have a family, Jerry/Garry/Larry/Terry/Barry gets his dream job, Craig finds his happy ending, Donna and Tom go on to great success, etc.; however, I noticed a very important person was missing.


April’s friend Orin, a brooding and mysterious enigma of a person, randomly appears when he’s least expected, which is what makes his character is so incredible. I always found Orin’s scenes to be the highlights of the episodes in which he popped up, so I feel that the producers cheated Orin by not fleshing out his future.

Objectively speaking, Orin is the best. He’s relatable, he’s honest, and he’s hilarious without trying to be. But Orin is also so much more than that: he’s inspirational and a revolutionary, someone who strives to expose injustices and subvert oppressive social norms.

Here are 7 reasons why Orin is the minor character none of us deserved:

1. He rejects authority. 

Orin proves that oppressive restrictions are meant to be challenged and broken. Whether it be violently removing Native Americans from their homes or rigging the socioeconomic system to force people of color into “ghetto” neighborhoods, the American government has always told certain groups of people what spaces they can and can’t inhabit. In this scene, Orin defiantly takes a stand against these rules and challenges authority by attempting to claim his own territory.

2. He forces us to confront our own mortality.

Death is scary. It’s permanent, painful, and worst of all, inevitable; we all will die someday. That can be difficult for many people to come to terms with, but Orin inspires us to incorporate death into everyday conversations to familiarize ourselves with the concept. By stripping away death’s mystique and the power of uncertainty it holds over us, we eliminate the fear, allowing us to live freely and uninhibited.

3. He disrupts and subverts our idea of “art.”

Unless art is mainstream and digestible by the masses, it often goes unappreciated. How often have you heard someone say “I could have done that!” when describing a minimalist art piece? We are so accustomed to thinking of art as Van Gogh or Picasso that we forget that art is limitless. There are infinite types of art that hold infinite meanings to both the artist and the viewer. Orin’s art exhibit reminds us that there is more than one type of art, and that different types of art appeal to different groups of people.

4. He revealed the hypocrisy that infiltrates the American job search process.

Entry level positions require 3-5 years of experience. Companies post openings to online job boards when they already have a candidate in mind. Some places won’t accept any applicants without a STEM degree, regardless of the position. The job searching process is infuriatingly frustrating and full of hypocrisies and favoritism. Orin helped expose this when he was instantly dismissed as an applicant for the animal control director position. Furthermore, he challenged the job search process by refusing to comply with the strict guidelines dictated by the traditional resume.

5. He reminded us introverts that it’s still possible to have a functioning social life.

It’s clear that Orin is an introvert — he often looks uncomfortable in social situations and is not one to make friends with everyone he meets; however, he proves that it’s still possible to make friends and have a social life. He gets invited to all kinds of parties and social events and has a solid friend base. He even overcomes this social anxiety to attend job interviews and create his own public art projects.

6. He rejects traditional gender roles.

From painting his nails to taking on the role of April’s mother, Orin shows viewers that gender norms are outdated and ridiculous. He proves that men can be feminine and that women can be masculine. Additionally, as illustrated in this scene, his relationship with Champion subverts traditional marriage roles; Orin takes on the more paternal and authoritative role, while Champion remains in the kitchen, preparing dinner.

7. He revealed truths that awoke our third eyes.

Power corrupts, and “money is the root of all evil,” but we forget those things in our materialistic, capitalistic society. We become swept up in what our media and government tells us that we unconsciously forget to critique them, the very people who write our narrative. We should always be suspicious of authority, unjust laws, and those who rise in the system in order to maintain oppressive social norms. Orin reminds us to challenge those who hold power and to keep our eyes — and ears — open as we navigate through society.

Orin is a complex and fascinating part of the Parks and Rec universe, one who brings to light many revelations about society and the human condition, but often goes ignored or unappreciated by fans and producers alike.

I, for one, am thankful for the raw honesty and insight that Orin brought to Parks and Rec, and I hope that one day we learn what happened to him in 2017 and beyond.


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