Perhaps my favourite within a damn near flawless ensemble, April Ludgate has been a revelation. Starting out life as the apathetic intern, the series has followed her growth into a hardworking, passionate woman, for whom anything is possible. To reduce Aubrey Plaza’s performance to her trademark deadpan would be to underestimate both the actress and the character. Each season has afforded April new layers and, with that, allowed both Plaza and April to realise their immense potential. Her relationships with Leslie and Andy, in particular, have helped her develop, and debunked her internalised notion that caring only leads to rejection and/or heartbreak. In loving Andy and being loved back, she learned how rewarding it was to care about others and open up. As a result of letting Leslie in, she found a mentor in life and in work, as well as a true, lifelong friend.
I’ve found most of April’s development moving as much as humorous, given that the predilection to be angry or apathetic about the world is so entrenched in the minds of young people nowadays, myself included. As a feminist, there are times when I feel so disheartened by the state of things. You turn on the news and it’s inevitably bad, worse and terrible. It’s hard not to want to protect yourself from it by shutting off, by choosing not to care. April’s arc has reminded me of the rewards of not doing that, of letting people in, of fighting for what you believe in and finding things that are meaningful to you. She has inspired me to be inspired. For that reason, I will miss April the most.
Undoubtedly, Parks and Recreation depicts an optimistic alternative world, but nothing in Pawnee makes me more optimistic than April’s character development.