Sometimes a writing assignment is just a mental exercise. But sometimes a writing assignment turns out to be kind of like writing fanfiction. Which is precisely what happened in my screenwriting class last week. My professor asked us each to pick two characters from a current tv show or a recent movie and write their back-story. The trick was, we couldn’t include things that had already been revealed. Of course I picked Parks & Recreation. Deciding which characters I wanted to write was a bit more of a struggle. Leslie, Ron and Ben already have a wealth of information shared about them, so I wanted to write about characters that we didn’t really know much about. With no further ado, the abridged histories of Donna Meagle and Tom Haverford.
Donna Meagle wasn’t born in Pawnee, Indiana. She was born in Gary, Indiana and lived there with her parents and two older brothers until she graduated from high school. After being scouted by a plus-sized modeling agency at the local mall, she relocated to a small apartment in the heart of Indianapolis.
Her career was short-lived, though she was a very popular figurehead for her agency’s European division. A provocative spread she did for a high-end lingerie brand in Finland paid handsomely and gave her the money to buy her beloved Mercedes Benz.
In high school she was very popular; her personality blend of class-clown and diva easily won her the title of Prom Queen.
Despite her popularity with the opposite sex, Donna hasn’t been in a steady relationship since high school. She had dated a boy named Jimmy all throughout high school, but they broke up when Donna realized that she was wasting her time with only one man.
She has never been married, preferring the freedom of single life. That isn’t to say that men haven’t tried. She has been proposed to a total of four times by three different men.
Jimmy was the first to propose. He got down on one knee in front of her friends and family at their high school graduation party. She immediately dumped him.
The second proposal came from a guy named Chet she met during her time as a model. She had been in Europe for the job and they had a one-night-stand after an event hosted by her modeling agency. He shouted his proposal after her as she left the hotel the next morning; he was still handcuffed to the headboard.
The third and fourth proposals came in rapid succession. One of the checkout boys at the Pawnee grocery store jokingly proposed the first time that she went into the store. He tried again, only slightly more serious, only a week later.
Donna considers herself as having great taste. She was treated once for oniomania – a shopping addiction – and is currently in recovery. This compulsion, however, has put her in serious debt. She has three credit cards currently maxed out, which is a step up from the nine she had at the peak of her addiction.
One of her brothers is the defensive coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts. She, along with the rest of her family, have season tickets to all of the Colts home games. Her 30th birthday party was actually at the skybox of the stadium during a playoff game.
Donna finally moved from Indianapolis to the small-town of Pawnee when she was 27 and knew that her modeling career was over for good. She chose to move to Pawnee because she could live anonymously as an ex-model. The fact that it was ranked 4th in obesity nationally was also a convincing factor as she would fit in.
She ended up working at the Parks Department on a whim. She had just moved to Pawnee and needed to find a job to pay down her credit card debt. The job didn’t have very stringent qualifications and wouldn’t be too taxing, so she interviewed for the position. Ron Swanson hired her for her complete apathy toward local government and the parks system in general.
Tom grew up in South Carolina with the rest of his family until he went away to college in Indianapolis. He lived with his parents, grandparents, five older brothers and his younger sister. His brothers were always rambunctious and physically active. Tom was the runt of the family and was frequently relegated to playing dolls with his younger sister.
Tom didn’t hit the 5’ mark until freshman year of high school. To make up for his lack of physical appeal, he became the class clown and head of the student council.
Despite this, Tom was never popular. He did, however, manage to get everyone in the school to know his name, so he didn’t care if his classmates actually liked him or not. Because of his aggressively extroverted personality, people shied away from him and he had very few close friends. He only managed to get a date to prom because the girl he asked was dared to say yes.
He went away to college hoping to find a place where he fit in. In Indianapolis Tom enrolled as an American Studies major because he thought it would a) be easy and, b) give him a well-rounded background for whatever design/entrepreneurial/political job he could attain later in life.
He frequently asked girls out, but never got any positive responses because he was too “cute” and “nice.” His small stature and propensity to use pet-names before even entering a relationship did not help matters.
He was the mascot for his college athletic department. His small stature and boundless energy helped him win over the fans.
He worked in the cafeteria during college as part of a work-study job. He liked it because it allowed him to interact with so many people over the course of a day. That was where he met his future wife, Wendy. She had been crying over her meatloaf and Tom went to comfort her. She ended up pouring her heart out about being afraid of being deported and that’s how their tenuous friendship began.
Tom actually moved to Pawnee because of his wife’s job. He decided it would be a perfect place to launch his political career. He got a job at City Hall and the only open position was in Parks & Recreation. That suited him well, though, because the job wasn’t very taxing and he had plenty of free time to allot to figuring out how, exactly, he wanted to plan his entrepreneurial empire.
Tom decided to go into politics, not playing into some urge to help people have better lives, but to impress them. Five of his six siblings are doctors of some sort and the other is an actor in New York. Tom had always felt that he was living in the shadow of his siblings, so he wanted to make his parents proud. Becoming a famous politician seemed like a good enough plan for him.
Working in the Parks Department actually curtailed his desire to go into politics. That was where his dream to open his own company really flourished.
Despite feeling like a professional failure at times, Tom has quite a few personal achievements. For instance, he has won every karaoke contest he has ever entered. He has also designed his own manicure experience for men. He calls them “man”-cures.