Parks and Recreation: why is everyone so mean to Jerry?

In the last few months, I’ve joined the bandwagon that is Parks and Recreation. Sure I was late to the game, but that doesn’t mean I love it any less. Leslie exhausts me, Ron Swanson makes me giggle uncontrollably, and I desperately want April to insult me; it seems like a great way to start the day. And while I’ve learned to never let Tom borrow my credit card (or Donna for that matter), there’s still one glaring issue that irks me every time I watch the show: why is everyone so mean to Garry/Jerry Gergich?

They can’t even get the guy’s name right!

Sure he’s a little clumsy, but his niceness more than makes up for whatever soup he may have spilled on his button-down shirt. He’s not even the annoying kind of nice, just genuinely caring, friendly, and selfless toward others, despite whatever insults they berate him with. Even Leslie, the woman how sticks up for everyone/is excited about everything, constantly interrupts him, sends him on pointless trips, and forgets to bring him vacation souvenirs. (Hypocrite alert, Miss Knope.)

These ongoing insult/odd-man-out jokes aren’t funny, in fact, it’s plain awkward. Like the time they:

* Created a “Jerry filter” to avoid his emails

* Started a collection, donating money each time they laugh at Garry/Jerry … then went out to a fancy dinner with the funds.

* Failed to notify him that a virus emergency was a drill, not the real thing.

* Insulted his intricate and skilled artwork.

* Gave him a heart attack.

* Made fun of him for having said heart attack.

Garry/Jerry is just a nice family guy – who landed Christie Brinkley – and constantly gets crapped on.

So what gives? Why is this still a running gag? It may have been funny once, NBC, but now, five seasons in, the viewers are wondering what this guy ever did wrong. And why doesn’t Garry/Jerry zing anyone back? The constant insults would be easier to take if they weren’t so one-sided.

The Gergich family may be a little weird, but aside from their patriarch, they’re a bunch of hot blondes. If public schools taught us anything, it’s that beautiful people are allowed to be weird – it’s the main premise of every geek-to-chic movie ever. Yet Garry/Jerry catches enough teasing and mockery for his entire model-esque brood.

It’s also worth noting that seniority means nothing in the Parks and Rec Department. Garry/Jerry, before his retirement, was the longest-serving employee in P and R. Sure he was still one of the lowest ranking, but do years of service count for nothing anymore?

Enough with the insulting Gergich gags already, NBC. We just want to see this nice man live his life. Why not try a little anti-bullying material, and giving Garry a little respect?

By BethaneyWallace

About the author

Bethaney Wallace is a professional writer and co-owner of The Social Robot. Other than blogging, she can be found drinking tea, looking for new DIY projects, and maxing out her library card.

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8 Comments
On: Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Eric - TV Geek Army "Revered Leader" said:
I think everyone's attitude toward Jerry makes sense within the deliciously oddball universe that is Parks and Recreation. It's not unlike the town's obsession with Lil Sebastian -- it's odd and over the top and funny. I thought they handled this question pretty well too in the endrun of this season where they discussed that every office has one Jerry.
On: Monday, May 13, 2013
Mark D Curran said:
I can respect the opinion that you don't like the running gag in regards to Jerry, but at least recognize that he is hardly the first or the last in a long line of trope characters known as the "butt monkey." Think Dolphin Boy from Sealab 2021, Zoidberg from Futurama, Toby from the Office. MANY shows have that character - need that character - for the rest of the cast to work. And maybe it's because I'm also male, but I just don't have a problem feeling bad for a guy with hot wife and "the biggest" reproductive organ the characters on P&R have ever seen. He's blessed in his own ways. Ah, and 3 cheers for P&R's renewal while I'm here!
On: Friday, October 25, 2013
Kes said:
i find it really painful to watch the way they treat jerry, its the one thing about the show (which i love to pieces) that i can't stand, its just bullying. and yes, totally out of character for leslie to not have said something about it.
On: Tuesday, January 27, 2015
bob said:
Thankyou Bethaney, I was starting to think I was the only person who didn't like how the other characters constantly bullied Jerry. I kept on watching the show in the hope that Jerry would get revenge on the other characters, or at the very least, see the other characters get some karma. Yet I was disappointed to see Jerry only get some light revenge, which is starting to make me dislike the other characters even more. I know it's just a show, but I kind of feel sad after watching most episodes because I came to like many of the other characters only to now dislike them greatly for how they treat Jerry. :( The show would be much better if Jerry was able to get some sweet revenge on the other characters. (The party where Tom was not invited was not good enough because he got in in the end and shut Jerry out of his own home). I'd recall Knope just for the way she treats Jerry. :)
On: Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Raab said:
Jerry is treated like crap because he does nothing to combat said treatment and it's funny because outside of work at the parks department he is loved and treated with respect. He is also an awful, annoying person.
On: Friday, June 24, 2016
jrw said:
I agree, it really disturbed me that they just wrote this sort of "punching bag". I'm glad that at least in his life outside work he is respected/loved. But the way they treat him at work just made me kind of hate all the other characters. I seriously love almost every other aspect of this show. What's most bizarre is, Andy, who is really just a younger version of Jerry (no authority job, non confrontational, overweight white male) manages to make everyone "fall in love" with him by acting like a human golden retriever.By the end of the series, Andy even manages to get a 'respectable' career.I feel like they wrote Jerry in for the absolute lowest laughs, like if a total idiot was watching the show and couldn't understand *any* of the other jokes, they would still understand the simple, playground bullying. "DUH YOU'RE SO STUPID!! HAHAHA"
On: Saturday, February 11, 2017
j said:
I just finished the series on Netflix and can not wrap my mind around how he is treated. I never found humor in any of the scenes when he was getting mistreated. I found it hard to watch and confused why they were all so horrible to him.
On: Friday, November 3, 2017
Gethejoke said:
It's funny because its so not funny.
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