I’m not even going to hide behind a jump: Craig Fucking Middlebrooks.
I loved Craig the minute he walked into my life, and I now follow Billy Eichner on practically anything he does because he is hilarious. Seriously, if you haven’t watched Hulu’s Difficult People, you need to. STAT.
Anyway, Craig doesn’t come on the show until the third episode of the sixth season as Donna’s counterpart in the Eagleton parks department, and it is a beautifully explosive entry into the annals of Parks and Rec history. He rants about her name being perfect, and then says this:
“I wanted to be a Spanish man named Terrence, but that didn’t happen.”
Now, I haven’t met anyone like Craig in real life, but damn if I don’t want to. I feel like he and I could just sit around telling each other about ourselves because we have no filter and we are both super animated communicators. I use my hands a lot and, when I get excited, I tend to squeak and bounce. Our conversations would be very loud, methinks, but entertaining for all involved.
As the series progresses into its final season, Craig just keeps getting better and better. He becomes the sommelier at Tom’s Bistro, he ends up taking over Ron’s job when Ron goes private sector, his spirit dog is discovered, he inadvertently helps Andy invent Johnny Karate, and he introduces the greatest possible list of reasons why being alive is amazing, such as the following:
- watermelon martinis
- exposed brick
- Keri Russell’s hair
- tomato plants
- unlikely animal friend pairings
Honestly, one of the best parts about Craig is that he embraces his personality. He is aware he is intense and passionate, and he takes others’ responses to him in stride. Like when the group chooses an angry looking chihuahua as his “spirit dog,” he initially resists it but quickly changes his tune within a second, realizing that, yeah, that dog is his essence. He’s also very clear about what he wants out of life: when Tom goes in search of a wine specialist for his new restaurant, Craig fights like hell to prove to Tom that he has what it takes to do the job and do it well. Naturally, he’ll have to tone it down for actual dealing with the public, but he wins Tom over with his dedication and true talent for wine tasting.
Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t at least mention Typhoon, the one, true love of Craig Middlebrooks. Considering the main cast is primarily white, I thought Typhoon was going to be a one-time character – as Ron’s replacement hairstylist after his regular one died – and was pleasantly surprised that he married Craig and made an appearance in the finale (older but definitely still fabulous and and in love with his husband). There was a gay penguin wedding in the second season, and Chris was not at all bothered by being hit on by men, so it’s not like queerness was something that the show steered clear from, but it was so nice to see that this wasn’t treated any differently than other characters getting together. And they are absolutely perfect for each other, and no one can tell me any different.
So, to summarize, Craig is amazing and completely revitalized the show for me, and I am now going to go watch Difficult People and possibly Billy on the Street. Either way, I’m going to have a hellagood time.
Runners Up: Ken Hotate because he is A Boss.
Jennifer Barkley because how can you not love what Kathryn Hahn did with her?
And of course, Joan Callamezzo. That requires no explanation.