Two years ago, I watched all seven seasons of Parks and Recreation, the theme song playing through my house at all hours of the day, finishing the series in just over a month. My cousin and I bonded over the absurdity of characters such as Ron Swanson and Tom Haverford. These men have signature personalities that entail humor that leaves the viewer laughing every episode. My focus was typically fixated on these characters, but since restarting the series these past few weeks, my attention has followed the actions of Pawnee city manager: Chris Traeger.
Chris Traeger makes his first appearance in the Parks Department in the second season, and immediately radiated vibes of positivity. An avid jogger and unbelievably passionate about local government, Traeger is nearly exhausting to listen to. His eyes can see no wrong, and when they do, he puts an optimistic spin on the situation, and does so with an infectious smile on his face. However, well into Season 4, Chris’s life seems to fall apart around him, his girlfriend breaks up with him the day he plans to ask her to move in, and his overall glittering personality is tarnished. As the lives of other characters carry on and upward, Chris finds himself standing still and slowly declining, seeking therapy to free himself from his freeze. But, all the while, he maintains a cheerful attitude and remains an incredible friend to his peers and coworkers.
His ability to mask his depression with a smile is sad but admirable, especially lasting most of the fourth and well into the fifth season. Like any human, Chris faces adversity, but rather than letting it get him down, he embraces his struggles, and throws himself into figuring himself out, attending therapy five times a week. Though I don’t feel that I’ve ever reached a low as low as Chris, the past year has been tougher than what I’ve faced before. Sophomore year has thrown me more curveballs than I can count, and it doesn’t help that I have to endure two more years before I graduate.
Oddly enough, I’ve found hope in Chris Traeger. Yes, I know he’s a fictional character with an unrealistically positive attitude, but watching him trudge on through his difficulties is inspiring. Shaking off hardship isn’t always easy. Chris eventually overcame his struggles, and used his experience of time of difficulty to support others. His kindness and ever-animated personality is inspiring, especially to those who have troubles of their own. Though real-life problems aren’t scripted, it’s characters like Traeger that prove that things will turn out alright with time.