i want to talk about the characterizations of ben wyatt and jake peralta. arguably jim halpert could be included in this conversation, but i want to focus on ben and jake because they’re such clear subversions of well-known tropes
firstly, you have ben wyatt. the nerd. he’s established as a hard-ass and a geek early on, and it would have been so easy for the writers to fall into that trope of presenting him as below leslie, as her eventual agreement to date him has a victory for all male nerds, because he had successfully tricked a woman into being interested in him.
instead, we get ben wyatt, a dork and a feminist. he’s nationally ranked in settlers of catan and he likes to sit around in a batman costume and he loves game of thrones. he also loves his girlfriend enough to lose his job for her, and it’s never even addressed whether he minds that leslie will probably end up with a higher status job than him - because why would he? he loves and supports her, and his nerdiness is presented not as a flaw, but as a complement to her single-minded determination - they’re both total nerds with an overlapping ven diagram of interests.
secondly, jake peralta. the character we’re introduced to in the first episode is cocky and a smartass, and while he’s loveable, we completely understand why he would drive amy up a wall. jake and amy are less alike than ben and leslie are; arguably they’re opposites. again, there’s a trope that the show could have fallen into: “endearing idiot eventually wears down woman who is too good for him, and she realizes she was too uptight all along”.
but again, we get something completely different. jake peralta, known for being Too Much, consistently respects amy’s boundaries and tries as hard as he can to be honest about his feelings, while understanding that amy is her own person. she buys orange soda for him and he gets a new mattress for her. there are so many examples of the respect in that relationship - they’re both so stubborn, but they love each other so much. he’s always known that she was going to be his boss. they’re different, but they love it about each other.
all i’m saying is, this purposeful subversion of gross male stereotypes is so important - and so much easier (and so much funnier!) than people think
Honestly, god bless Michael Schur. This man created all four of these shows. I bet you watch at least one of these shows when you’re sad and need to feel better. He’s changing the comedy game by making shows that are diverse and don’t use offensive comedy. Michael Schur deserves so much appreciation!
I like Mike Schur shows (Parks and Recreation, Brooklyn 99, The Good Place). They are probably the best comedies of the moment and they are about good people, people trying to help each other, or people trying to become better people. It is such a welcome change from the Seinfeld syndrome that has afflicted most tv comedies for the last thirty years.