Tom Haverford

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Tom Haverford
Parks and Recreation character
Tom Haverford.jpg
First appearance "Pilot"
Portrayed by Aziz Ansari
Information
Gender Male
Occupation Parks and Recreation Department Administrator
Spouse(s) Wendy Haverford (divorced)
Significant other(s) Lucy (ex-girlfriend)
Ann Perkins (ex-girlfriend)
Mona-Lisa Saperstein (ex-girlfriend)
Nationality American

Thomas Montgomery "Tom" Haverford (/ˈhævərfərd/ HAV-ər-fərd), born Darwish Sabir Ismael Gani, is a fictional character in the NBC comedy Parks and Recreation. He is a sarcastic, underachieving government official for the city of Pawnee who is revered for his high levels of confidence and unmatched entrepreneurial skills. He is portrayed by American actor and stand-up comedian Aziz Ansari.

Background[edit]

Thomas Montgomery Haverford is an Indian American,[1] who changed his name from Darwish Sabir Ismael Gani to be more appealing in politics.[2] (It is possible Ansari chose the name "Darwish" for his character in honor of his cousin, with whom he is close.[3]) He is often assumed to be an immigrant by much of the Parks and Recreation staff (Leslie often assuming him to be Libyan), though, as he frequently reminds them, he hails from South Carolina, as does Ansari. He works as Leslie Knope's immediate subordinate at the Pawnee parks and recreation department, often serving as her right-hand man.[4] Tom displays an extremely sarcastic, mischievous and cocky attitude,[4][5] and frequently attempts to secure favors from local contractors.

He takes his appearance very seriously, often donning office-casual polo shirts.[4] He also buys clothing from the boys' collection at Brooks Brothers ("Telethon"). In "Go Big or Go Home," Tom also boasted about ladies' sneakers he bought from his workplace during Pawnee's government shutdown. Though it is not explicitly said, it's assumed Tom worked at Lady Foot Locker, where his friend Jean-Ralphio Saperstein has a job too ("Woman of the Year"). Tom married his Canadian-born college friend Wendy to secure her U.S. citizenship (a green card marriage). Despite the marriage, Tom aggressively flirts with other women, which has prompted confusion from people unfamiliar with his arrangement with Wendy.[5][6] He is constantly pursuing women even during his marriage, as far as going to strip clubs, hitting on Ann Perkins, distributing copies of his house keys to beautiful women, and judging at the Miss Pawnee pageant. Tom has complete authority over the Pawnee tennis court reservation system, which has brought him into close contact with many attractive female tennis enthusiasts.[7] Tom’s heroes include Tiger Woods, Vin Diesel, Michael Bolton, Flo Rida, Patrick Jane, Paul Walker, and Jamie Foxx.[7] He has a very high image of himself and brags that people view him as a "Brown Superman with a Beard" and has also asked to be introduced as "The Brown Gosling".

Storyline[edit]

Season one[edit]

Tom appears lackadaisical about his work at the parks department and regularly undermines Leslie. He plays online Scrabble against his superior, Ron Swanson, during work time and loses on purpose in order to further his career. Ron, who believes in as little government interference as possible, approvingly states of Tom, "He doesn’t do a lot of work around here. He shows zero initiative. He’s not a team player. He never wants to go that extra mile. Tom is exactly what I’m looking for in a government employee."[8] Tom is often chosen to go on field projects with Leslie. He is also known for abusing his small amount of public power for self-benefit. Tom studies the culture of pickup artists and engages in a practice he calls "peacocking", which involves finding a visual element that makes him stand out in public like a peacock. In one such date, he wears a woman's orange hat, which others find ridiculous.[9]

Season two[edit]

Ron discovers Tom's arranged marriage with Wendy, but agrees to keep it secret, especially after Tom discovers Ron secretly moonlights as a nightclub jazz musician.[10] Tom and Wendy get a divorce shortly after she gets her citizenship. Although he initially appears fine, Tom realizes he did in fact harbor feelings for Wendy and regrets the parting. At the end of Season 2, Tom meets Lucy, a bartender at the Snake Hole Lounge. As of the finale, the two are dating.[11]

Season three[edit]

At the beginning of Season 3, Tom is seen working at an apparel store as a sales associate while the government is on furlough. Lucy eventually breaks up with him, and reveals that their relationship ended because Tom spent too much time talking about his ex wife's relationship with Ron Swanson. As an attempt to exact revenge on Ron, Tom brings Ron's ex-wife Tammy as a date to an event organized by the Parks department. The night ends in chaos with Ron and Tammy being arrested and getting married. It is later revealed in the episode "Indianapolis" that Tom has created his own cologne scent called "Tommy Fresh". In the season finale, Tom quits his job at the Parks Department to work at Entertainment 720 with Jean-Ralphio.

Season four[edit]

Tom begins working at Entertainment 720 and offers the shoeshinest at city hall, Andy Dwyer, a job, which Andy turns down. Entertainment 720 goes bankrupt due to their massive overspending and no business model and Tom decides to throw one last party which Lucy attends and he confesses to her that he is broke and jobless. Ron tries to persuade Tom to take his old job back, departing from Tom's early storyline by saying he does his job well and keeps the bosses off Ron's back, but doesn't overachieve to the point where the Parks department is tasked to do extra assignments. Tom initially refuses but eventually agrees. After his joking style made Ann Perkins smile at a Valentine's Day party, she decides to meet him for a date which his antics immediately made her regret. However, after several fits and starts, Tom has convinced Ann to keep seeing him, even though he's oblivious to (or ignoring) her disgust at allowing herself to do so.

Season five[edit]

Tom finally begins what appears to be a reputable business, based off an idea he came up with during a fundraiser for Jerry in "Halloween Surprise". The idea, aptly titled "Rent-a-Swag" is to rent his own high-end clothing to middle school boys whose mothers won't buy them nice things through puberty.

Critical reception[edit]

Aziz Ansari, who was particularly acclaimed during the first season for his role as Tom Haverford,[1][4][12] received similar praise in the second season as well.[4][13] Alan Sepinwall, television columnist with The Star-Ledger, described Tom as the funniest of the characters during the first season,[12] and Jonah Weiner of Slate.com, who was critical of the first season, said Tom was "the brightest spot."[4] Paste ranked him No. 10 in their list of the 20 Best Characters of 2011.[14] An entire website, Tom Haverfoods, was dedicated to his character that displayed variations on his "food slang" as seen in the episode "Soulmates."

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Ellis, Mark (2009-12-06). "Monday TV: Parks and Recreation". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2010-01-01. 
  2. ^ "Press Tour Journal: Poehler series' premise". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 15 January 2009. 
  3. ^ Ansari, Aziz (March 30, 2011). "My little cousin Darwish goin HAM in Puerto Rico for spring break!!!". Aziz is Bored. Tumblr. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f Weiner, Jonah (2009-12-02). "You Really Should Be Watching Parks and Recreation". Slate. Retrieved 2009-12-06. 
  5. ^ a b Pierce, Leonard (2009-12-10). "Parks and Recreation: "Christmas Scandal"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved December 2009. 
  6. ^ Fowler, Matt (2009-10-09). "Parks and Recreation: "The Practice Date" Review". IGN. Retrieved 2009-10-23. 
  7. ^ a b "Staff". City of Pawnee: Parks and Recreation. NBC. 
  8. ^ Tobias, Scott (2009-04-23). "Parks and Recreation: Season 1: Episode 3: "The Reporter"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2009-04-26. 
  9. ^ Keller, Tom (2009-05-19). "Aziz Ansari: Downtown comedy for the masses". Punchline Magazine. Retrieved 2009-05-21. 
  10. ^ Fog, Henning (2009-10-09). ""Parks and Recreation" recap: Dirty little secrets". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2009-10-23. 
  11. ^ Gonzalez, Sandra (2009-12-04). ""Parks and Recreation" recap: "Tom's Divorce" makes us love the show more". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2009-12-05. 
  12. ^ a b Sepinwall, Alan (2009-04-09). ""Parks and Recreation" review - Sepinwall on TV". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved 2010-01-01. 
  13. ^ Poniewozik, James (2009-12-03). "NBC Comedies Watch: HD Is a Cruel Mistress, Parks and Recreation, "The Fourth Floor"". Time. Retrieved 2010-01-01. 
  14. ^ Jackson, Josh (December 5, 2011). "The 20 Best TV Characters of 2011". Paste. Retrieved June 30, 2012.