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Why Ron Swanson's Many Marriages Have Some Parks And Recreation Fans Confused

Ron Swanson's (Nick Offerman) dating life is as mysterious as it is prolific. The "Parks and Rec" character — who was, believe it or not, based on a real person – likes to keep everything in his life private, and that includes his romantic endeavors. After meeting just one of his exes, there is no question as to why. Offerman's real-life partner Megan Mullally was always a crowd pleaser as Tammy 2, his ex-wife who blows through his life like a hurricane. Their relationship can be defined as turbulent, verbally abusive, and manipulative, making it no question as to why the two got divorced (twice). So forceful is her presence in Ron's life that it is a shock when in Season 4, the audience meets another one of Ron's ex-wives — a woman also named Tammy.

Portrayed with cold calculation by Patricia Clarkson, Tammy 1 inspires even more fear because of the amount of control she has over Ron. Even Tammy 2 quakes in her boots at the mere mention of Ron's first wife. But while Ron ultimately makes it clear that he wants nothing to do with the most toxic people in his life, some fans are still confused about his revolving door of partners.

Ron has more marriages than ex-wives

It can be hard to keep track of Ron's dramatic romantic history. Audiences know that almost every woman he has married has been named Tammy — not to mention, even his mom has that name. But when it comes to just how many wives the Libertarian government worker had, well, that is up for contention. 

In one thread on Reddit, many fans weren't sure if there was someone missing or not. 

"We know of Tammie 1 and Tammie 2, but Ron specifically says he had 3 ex wives in the earlier seasons. Who is the missing ex wife?!" wondered Redditor u/-s-u-n-n-y-. Tammy 1 and 2 are the only exes that ever show up on Ron's doorstep, but it is easy to understand the confusion. There are not many people who have two ex-wives but have actually been married (and divorced) three times.

"He marries Tammy 2 twice," u/Prairiefan pointed out. Certainly not the best decision for Ron to make, but many things are unexplainable when it comes to affairs of the heart. Ron quickly realizes his mistake at inviting such an agent of chaos back into his life. Another Redditor clarified the point further, confirming that indeed, Ron didn't say that he had three ex-wives, but that he was married three times — referring to his second marriage to Tammy 2 — which clarifies the situation quite a bit. 

Three times is more than enough times to marry any Tammy, at this point. Thankfully, Ron finally learns his lesson and finds real love with the ultimate love of his life, Diane (Lucy Lawless).

Tammy 1 remains Ron's worst wife of all time

To call Tammy 1 an intimidating presence is an understatement. Even before the character was cast, there was a lot riding on Tammy 1. But going into Season 4, showrunner Mike Schur had a pretty good idea of where he wanted to go with her storyline when she arrived. "We talked about pretty much every possible iteration of who she is and what her backstory is and all we knew is that we didn't want to do the same thing we did with Tammy 2," Schur told TV Guide. "Tammy 1 is her own specific brand of demon." 

And when Tammy 1 does show up, there was no better actor to portray her than Patricia Clarkson. True to Schur's word, Tammy 1 was something audiences had never seen. "[W]hen I first read it I thought, 'oh my,'" Clarkson said in an interview with MTV. As Clarkson is a close personal friend with both Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally, the challenges that went along with the role did not stop her. She went on to say: "The lore that this character carries, the backstory — that was also intimidating, very intimidating to walk into that situation."

The pressure that Clarkson felt was inconsequential in the end. She was not only terrifying as Tammy 1 but a hilarious addition to the series. And Tammy 1 was a great wind-up for playing the worst mother of all time at the end of "Sharp Objects."