The Hidden David Foster Wallace References in Parks and Recreation

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Trivial Diversions

The Hidden David Foster Wallace References in Parks and Recreation

The Hidden David Foster Wallace References in Parks and Recreation

Parks and Recreation has a number of quirks, but one that has flown under the radar is that Michael Schur is completely obsessed with David Foster Wallace. In the episode “Partridge,” he dropped quite a bit of DFW knowledge on us, with hidden reference to Infinite Jest scattered throughout the episode. For the discerning fan, here they are.

1. The law firm of Councilman Jamm is called Gately, Wayne, Kittenplan & Troeltsch. All of those names are from Infinite Jest: Don Gately (resident counselor at Ennet House), and three students from Enfield Tennis Academy: John Wayne, sportscasting enthusiast Jim Troeltsch, and Eschaton player Ann Kittenplan.



2. That law firm’s motto is Gaudeamus Igitur, which is a song often sung at graduation events, but is also used in the chapters that preface the game of Eschaton and the fundraising tournament in the book.

3. When Ben is taken to the hospital, he spends the whole episode dazed with opium in Facklemann Memorial Hospital, a clear reference to Gene Fackelmann, who happens to be a drug addict in Infinite Jest.

4. The doctor at the hospital is Dr. Clipperton. The name comes from  a high school tennis player in the novel.

5. Ann Perkins and Chris Traeger spend most of the episode trying to decide if they’re compatible enough to be parents, so they take the “Incandenza-Pemulis Parenting Compatability [sic] Quiz.” Both of these names are references to Infinite Jest. The Incandeza family is at the center of the novel in a Hamlet-style story while Michael Pemulis is the best friend of the main character.


6. When Ann and Chris appear to be completely incompatible, they go to the C.T. Tavis Medical Building to see a counselor. The name comes from the Infinite Jest character who runs the Enfield Tennis Academy, also the uncle of the main character.

7. In Infinite Jest, Joelle van Dyne is labeled the “Prettiest Girl of All Time,” and spends the book working on her doctorate. The doctor that helps Ann and Chris happens to be Dr. van Dyne.

8. Mayor Stice is a mean fellow in the episode, and his name comes from Ortho “The Darkness” Stice, a tennis player who only wears black on court. Mayor Stice follows in his footsteps with a grayscale outfit.


9. There are two last references in the end titles of the episode. There are two Partridge residents who are credited: Kate Gompert and Ken Erdedy, two of the drug addicts at the “Ennet House Drug and Alcohol Recovery House.”

Related topics David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest, Parks and Recreation
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