I am currently making my way through Parks & Recreation for the….thousandth time? And honestly, I can’t think of a better show to bide my time with right now. Creators Greg Daniels and Michael Schur, the same show-runners of The Office, did a wonderful job of following up their first collaboration with another powerhouse of a series. Every time I watch it, I laugh at the same jokes, and always learn something new.
A couple years ago I was chatting with a my sister-in-law Lindsey, who at the time was watching P&R for the first time, and somehow we got on the topic of how the characters would be sorted into their respective Hogwarts Houses (don’t ask how we got there; it’s bound to happen when you get two Harry Potter nerds together). Cut to a few days ago, when I randomly remembered that conversation, and decided to officially sort the cast.
Before we get started, I wanted to rattle off a couple disclaimers. First, there will be minor spoilers ahead, so proceed with caution if you’ve yet to watch or finish watching the show. Second, I’d like to thank my amazing wife Lindsay Dassau for aiding me with this venture. She was a tremendous help in deciding which houses would hold each character. Third, I want to thank my sister-in-law Lindsey for helping me come up with this idea. Lastly, I only took the time to house the characters in the show that actually worked in the Parks & Rec department. I chose not to house the tertiary and semi-reoccurring characters, mostly because their stories weren’t as developed as the main characters. These include such examples as all the Sapersteins (Jean-Ralphio, Mona Lisa, and Doctor), both Tammys, Diane, and a few others. I could have found a home for Mark Brendanawicz, but I refused on principle. Mark’s character was akin to a wet blanket at best, and did little to add to the quality of the show. But that’s a story for another time.
Now, let’s get down to business…
Jerry (Gary/Larry/Terry) Gergich
Jerry is low-key one of my personal heroes in Parks & Rec. On the surface, it does appear that he leads a pretty boring and mundane life. But through all his daily disasters, blunders, and mishaps, he always (inexplicably?) retains a positive attitude. Could it be due to his beautiful wife, Gale, and his three daughters? Or maybe it’s because he has an incredibly large penis. Either way, all we know is that Jerry is very caring and resiliently hopeful, which is why I hereby sort him into house…Hufflepuff!
A Good Example
One of my favorite examples of Jerry showing his Hufflepuff colors is during the season 5 episode “Ron and Diane”. This is also the episode where we as the audience are introduced to “Jerry Dinner”, where a handful of the Parks & Rec crew go out for a nice, expensive dinner at the end of the year, with all the money they stashed away every time Jerry did something stupid. Anyways, when they decide that it would be better to at least invite Jerry to their dinner, they discover that the Gergiches are throwing a huge Christmas bash at their house. When the gang scrambles to figure out why they weren’t invited, Tom realizes that Jerry’s Christmas party invite was sent to spam, due to an email blocker that Tom set up for everyone (which effectively sends all of Jerry’s emails directly to the spam folder). As Tom, April, and Andy scroll through all of Jerry’s previously sent emails, they realize just how kind and caring of a person he is. Now, does this stop them and everyone else from making fun of Jerry? Absolutely not. But it’s at the very least a temporary moment of catharsis.
Mr. Tom Haverford taught us the importance of a lot of things: Taking risks, looking out for #1 (that’s you!), and stepping outside your comfort zone when it comes to achieving your dreams. Sure he failed a shit-ton throughout all his adventures. But the important thing to note is that he got back up, dusted himself off, and kept on ballin’. Time after time, he showed us that resilience and ambition are crucial keys to success (or at least, the potential for success). So with that, Tom, I place you in house…Slytherin!
A Good Example
After the flops of the Snakehole Lounge, Entertainment 720, and the mild success of Rent-A-Swag, Tom could have thrown in the towel, and no one would blame him. But he didn’t. He decided to take what he learned from both his failures and achievements, and apply that to Tom’s Bistro. Now, did his restaurant eventually end up folding as well? Sure. But as we all saw in the series finale, he eventually recovered from that disaster, and published a book appropriately titled “Failure: An American Success Story”.
This is basically the origin story for this blog post. I remember laughing hysterically at how easy it was to place Andy Dwyer into his appropriate Hogwarts house. But all jokes aside, before I officially place Andy, I would like to give him his due. He was a definite fan favorite of the show, and deservedly so. With his trademark goofiness and slap-stick-style humor, Andy was often the funniest character among the entire Parks & Rec crew. But it’s important to note that he wasn’t just there to be laughed at, or be the butt of every joke (that’s Jerry’s job). He taught us how to care for others, give to those that are less fortunate, and the importance of musical education. So with all that said, Andy, I place you in house…Hufflepuff!
A Good Example
There are so many great episodes where you can clearly see Andy’s Hufflepuff-ness shining through, but one of my favorites is in the episode Correspondents’ Lunch. Ben starts a new job as head of the Sweetums charity wing, and enlists the help of April, Andy, and Tom to weed through the giant pile of applications. Andy (unsurprisingly) picks an exciting charity that involves music, which Ben balks at for a more practical albeit boring charity. Despite being pretty bummed that Ben didn’t go with his pick, Andy is still empathetic and understands the validity in Ben’s choice. And then of course Andy goes on to continue aiding Ben with his Sweetums charity work. This is just one good example of Andy showing us that he truly cares for people, and enjoys putting others’ needs before his!
We now arrive at my personal favorite of the show, Mr. Ice-Town himself: Ben Wyatt. Simply said, Ben is a nerd’s nerd and a giant dork. He loves 90’s rock/pop music, created an elaborate RPG tabletop game in his spare time, and he likes a girl in skates…a lot. Additionally, he actually enjoys crunching numbers, and correcting other people when they don’t get the Game of Thrones lore right. So I think it’s safe to say that the sorting hat would get about a quarter of an inch away from his beautiful head of hair, before exclaiming…Ravenclaw!
A Good Example
There are far too many wonderful examples of Ben flexing his Ravenclaw muscles, so I’ll just grab a random one out of the hat. During the very first “Treat Yo Self” episode, Ben tags along with Donna and Tom for a day of pampering, relaxation, and gift-buying (for themselves, obviously). Ben not only finds their traditional methods of relaxation pretty stressful, but he also takes joy in buying himself new socks. As if all this wasn’t Ravenclaw-y enough, he ends up buying a legit Batman costume and wears it while walking around the mall. And to top it all off, he ends the day treating himself to a good cry. Now if all of that combined doesn’t qualify you for the house of blue, I’m not sure what will!
Ah yes, the illustrious yet mysterious Donna Meagle. Donna did receive quite a bit of character development, especially in the later seasons of the show. But as an audience, we’re still led to believe that there will always be more than meets the eye with her. With these things considered, she was also a character that was particularly difficult to house. If you think about it, she displays characteristics that could easily put her in any of the 4 houses. Donna displays courage, wit, kindness, and ambition, sometimes all within the span of a single episode. However, there were usually a certain set of characteristics that stood out, and were more constant than others. And those traits place her in house…Slytherin!
A Good Example
Instead of citing one specific example that shows off Donna’s ambition and talent, I’m going to reference several. When Ron needs to sell his cabin, we learn that she just recently obtained her realtors license. During a certain “Galentines Day” episode, we learn that she has several men “in rotation”. When Leslie is walking down the isle during her wedding, Donna is singing opera (beautifully, I might add). And finally, she is 1/2 of the founding members of the Treat Yo Self team. All of these little things add up to Donna being one powerhouse of a Slytherin!
Man, this one did not take a lot of effort to figure out 😂. Chris Traeger might be the most positive, upbeat person on Parks & Rec. Which is saying something, because Leslie Knope is also on the show. Rob Lowe’s character is enthusiastic, competitive, and ridiculously energetic. So with all that said, Chris, I place you in house…Gryffindor!
A Good Example
This is another instance where there are far too many examples that I could point out. One of my person favorites is one of Chris’ very first episodes, where he has the talking head with the camera about his goal of running to the moon. That, combined with his respectful persistence of asking out Ann, should be all the proof you need that he should be rocking the red and gold.
Oh Ann Perkins, you beautiful, opalescent tree shark. Ann’s character development throughout the series was an odd one. Because during the first few seasons, in my opinion, she was mostly there to be a friend to Leslie and balance out her craziness and keep her grounded (when necessary). It wasn’t until about seasons 3 and 4 when her character finally started developing, and from there I could better assess her most prominent personality traits. With all that said, it still wasn’t a breeze finding the right Hogwarts house for Ms. Perkins. Like so many other characters of the show, she underwent a few changes, and wasn’t exactly the same person in season 6 as she was in season 1. But let’s name the things we do know: She’s an intelligent, rational person who tends to think logically. She makes fun of Ben Wyatt for the nerdy shit that he’s into, despite being a bit of a dork herself. But when matters of the heart are at stake, she tends to lose her mind and all rational thinking flies out the window. And if that doesn’t make the lovely Ann Perkins a member of house Ravenclaw, I don’t know what will!
A Good Example
One of my favorite “Ann” episodes is when April apprehensively asks Ann for a letter of recommendation for the veterinary school she is interested in attending. Ann then uses this as an opportunity to “force” April to spend the day doing things she doesn’t want to do. This involved getting manicures, getting their hair styled, and singing one of the greatest pop songs of all time. The thing that sticks out the most about Ann’s response to April’s request is that she didn’t taunt or belittle April, as revenge for all the years she’s endured the unnecessary abuse. Ann instead looked at this as an opportunity to rise above, and use her glowing wit to convince April that she is in fact not as terrible of a person as she seems to think.
Now we come to one of the show’s fan favorites: Ms. Janet Snakehole, herself. April and her relationship with Andy has been referred to as many things, including “relationship goals”, “an odd but perfect pairing”, and my personal favorite “like a cat and dog”. Additionally, she was the exact opposite of all the characters I had a tough time finding a house for. April is lazy, but at the same time very ambitious. She has her own trademark level of charisma, and can absolutely get shit done when she puts her mind to it. With all that said, Ms. Snakehole (if that even is your real name…), I place you in house…Slytherin!
A Good Example
One of my favorite episodes where April and Leslie are the central characters is “Leslie vs. April”. Coincidentally, it’s also a fantastic display of April’s Slytherin-like traits. She (April) finally finds a project that is worthy of her time and effort, involving the proposal of building a brand new dog park in Pawnee. The only issue is that the proposed land is the vacant lot by Ann’s house, which Leslie has obviously ear-marked for a park since season one. When we realize that April is willing to go to war with Leslie in order to get the dog park built, both her great and not-so-great Slytherin characteristics shine bright. The main takeaway here is that she is ambitious when it comes to the things she’s passionate about, and is not afraid to cut a bitch, if necessary.
Mr. Swanson was by far my favorite to find a house for, during this whole process, for a few reasons. For one, he is in a constant neck-and-neck tie with Ben for my personal favorite character on the show. Second, I almost placed him in the wrong house, but thanks to my wonderful wife Lindsay, she helped me see the light. At first, I thought Ron would make a pretty decent Gryffindor. He definitely has a few of the major traits of a Gryffindor, such as strength, bravery, and courage. Not to mention, if you account for one of the Hogwarts housing “rules”: Ron would most likely refuse to take a sorting quiz, which would mean he’d be an honorary Gryf. HOWEVER, if you take a closer look at some of his other traits, a much better fit starts to develop: He loves riddles and puzzles, so he’s very intelligent. He’s a skilled woodworker and craftsman, which makes him creative. And he prefers to keep a very close knit circle of friends, making him quite exclusionary. So Ron Swanson, without further ado, I place you in house…Ravenclaw!
A Good Example
Wit, learning, and creativity are monumental cornerstones of house Ravenclaw. In the season 4 episode “Smallest Park”, Ron accompanies April and Andy to the local community college, as Andy tests out a round of trial classes. Ron encourages Andy to choose a class/subject he’s less familiar with, so that he can actually learn something. And finally, at the end of the episode, Ron decides to give Andy the tuition money he needs to enroll in the Women’s Studies course he showed interest in. Ron’s actions in this episode make it clear to us that he values education and learning, even though in this instance it’s for someone else.
Alright folks, here we are at the end of the line, with our last but most definitely not least. Parks & Rec has so many great characters, each of whom add so many special variations to the show. However, it was Leslie Knope who not only pushed the plot forward on most occasions, but served as the Wayne Gretzky of the show: Scoring several goals herself, but constantly going out of her way to assist and help others. Leslie has so many of the qualities that make for a great Hufflepuff. She is loyal, honest, and obviously hard-working. BUT, Leslie is the hero of this story. Because it’s her story. It took a shit-ton of strength, willpower, and bravery to even attempt to achieve the things that she did. She started out the show as Deputy Directory of the Parks & Recreation department, and ended as the GOVERNOR of Indiana. Gurl can get it! Leslie even helped us out a bit with what Hogwarts house she’d be in, when she casually mentioned to Ron’s soon-to-be wife Diane that she would be a seeker on the Gryffindor Quidditch team. And any true Harry Potter fan should know that the sorting hat most definitely takes into account what house you would prefer to be in. So with all that said, Leslie Knope of the Parks & Rec department, Governor of Indiana, slayer of dragons, liberator of the useless, I place you in house…Gryffindor!
A Good Example
It’s tough choosing an example from the show, where Leslie’s Gryffindor-ness is on full display, because you can clearly see it during every single episode. One of my favorites, however, is the season 6 episode “Ann and Chris”, which happens to be both Ann and Chris’ last appearance on the show (until the series finale). Leslie finds a way to throw a gigantic going-away party for Ann, where every holiday within a calendar year is represented! And on top of that, she jumps through several hoops in a single night just so her and Ann can officially break ground on the lot that will be the future Pawnee Commons.
There you have it, folks. I hope you had as much fun reading this as I did putting it together for y’all. As I stated earlier, it was literally years in the making, and I am quite happy with the end results, and hopefully you are too! If you have thoughts/comments on anything, or would like to refute any hypotheses that I drew, feel free to drop a line in the comments on social media!