How do you respond to criticisms that Ann is not as quirky and well-defined as everyone else?
I take issue with it, frankly, for a number reasons. The mechanics of a TV show cast are very complex and intricate, and I think the job Rashida Jones does on our show is very unrewarded by many people, which is basically being a very grounded, very real person. If you have a show of nothing but crazy people, it can go off the rails very quickly. The whole design of the yin and yang of Leslie and Ann as best friends is that Ann is going to keep Leslie from spinning off into crazy town and Leslie is going to push Ann to be a more interesting person. You need that at the center of the show to keep things both grounded and funny at the same time.
You know, we went through this with John Krasinski on The Office. He was never nominated for an Emmy, for example, because the job he was serving on the show wasn’t flashy, it wasn’t huge, it wasn’t massively comedic. But he was the real glue of that show in many ways. I think that’s sort of what Rashida is, because that character needs to exist. I think without her in the middle of the show, it could get very silly. To each his own in terms of personal taste, and I think our job as writers is to make everybody funnier and better every year, but I don’t agree with that assessment of her, personally. She has a bit of a thankless role because she’s surrounded by comedy characters who are purely funny. When you judge the character purely based on comedy, that’s when people come to that conclusion, but I think it’s half the story.