Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Why Chris Traeger Is An Inspiration To Parks And Recreation Fans

Over the course of a long career going back to his teen years, actor Rob Lowe has often accepted roles that can seem surprising at first but actually fit his image perfectly. This includes sleazy villains in 1990s comedies "Wayne's World" and "Tommy Boy," as well as his satirical role in "The Grinder." Certainly no one expected him to play a heavily Botoxed plastic surgeon in HBO movie "Behind The Candelabra," but Lowe was nominated for a Golden Globe because of his unsettling performance.

For some audiences, however, Lowe's most identifiable role is on the NBC sitcom "Parks & Recreation" as Chris Traeger. A health-conscious and absurdly positive person who tends to call people by their first and last names ("Ann Perkins!"), Chris first enters the series as an Indiana State Auditor alongside Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott). However, Chris and Ben decide to stay in Pawnee, where Chris becomes the City Manager.

The healthy and confident Chris at first seems flawless, but his inner conflict over the course of the series ended up inspiring many "Parks & Recreation" fans. 

Parks & Recreation viewers identified with Chris' mental issues

In the later seasons of "Parks & Recreation," Chris deals with depression after his relationships with Ann Perkins (Rashida Jones) and Millicent Gergich (Sarah Wright) end. The athletic City Manager even has trouble running because he has nothing to motivate him. This causes Chris to seek therapy for his anxiety and perfectionist tendencies.

A post by u/rampantfirefly praised the show for this depiction of depression: "Chris suffers from mental health issues despite being an attractive, successful, charismatic, passionate, athletic, white man. His character made me realise [sic] that if it's ok for him to struggle with depression, it's ok for me to have bad days as well."

u/OhGodImHerping agreed, writing that Chris masking his sadder feelings felt accurate to them, and that "He was such an inspiring character to me while I was in the depths of my own depression."

Chris does the right thing by not just seeking treatment, but asking his friends for comfort and support. As a result, he's able to cope with his deeper anxieties and emotions.

Rob Lowe has had his share of mental health struggles

Rob Lowe has had to wrestle with his own personal demons offscreen as well. After beginning to drink heavily as a teenager, and later bringing drugs into the mix, the young actor got sober after a moment of clarity in 1990: "It was like a badly written moment in a soap opera — complete with the walk into the bathroom and looking at myself in the mirror" (via Variety).

Lowe has remained alcohol and drug free ever since. He credits recovery with making him a better performer, as "The longer you are in recovery the more facile you are in getting honest. It really helps get you where you need to be [as an actor] a lot quicker."

Chris Traeger's "Literally" catchphrase actually comes directly from Lowe, who uses the word a lot (via Parade), but that's not the only similarity between the actor and his sitcom character. Lowe disclosed to the Goopfellas podcast that he and his wife, Sheryl Berkoff, sometimes see a marriage counselor, and his family has been in therapy together. The actor believes in "the notion of therapy as a sort of proactive, non-shaming [practice], like a trainer" and that it's a healthy way to reconnect with loved ones. Like Chris Traeger, then, Lowe has gone through dark times and come out the other side a happier, stronger person.