The problem with the Tom and Ann subplot in this season of Parks & Recreation is that it’s forcing viewers to confront the unpleasant fact that if they actually knew Tom Haverford in real life, they would hate him so, so, so much.
I actually couldn’t disagree with this more. (Surprise!) Tom’s into hip-hop, being silly, giving away iPads, looking out for friends, being sweet, being sweetly naive about how things work, #menswear, and not getting a lot done at work. That actually sounds, in the aggregate, a lot like me and most of the people I call my friends.
The ‘negative’ parts of his personality are: That he’s clingy? That he’s little? Not good at hunting? I mean, the message not-so-secretly coded into Tom’s character is that he’s… wait for it: kind of like a girl. Oh, sort of like another character on TV… wait for it: Barney Stinson! A man who also, via caricature, tries to supersede traditionally masculine/feminine roles. What I’m saying is that gay men and people of color tend to get either super-feminized or super-masculinized. Tom and Barney do a decent job, I think, of walking the line.
The whole ‘Ezra Klein doesn’t like people like that thing’ is an Ezra Klein-problem. It’s not a Tom-problem. I feel like, to be charitable, a nagging dislike of the character probably says more about sedimented notions of personhood than it does about the characters themselves. But I would, I hazard to say, have no problem hanging out with Tom all day.