Jean-Ralphio Saperstein

Jean-Ralphio Saperstein is a fictional character played by Ben Schwartz in the American comedy television series Parks and Recreation. He is the cocky friend of Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari) and, like Tom, sees himself as a pickup artist and baller, although he is looked upon with contempt by most people around him except Tom.[1][2] Ron Swanson happily invests in Tom's "Rent-A-Swag" venture when he learns that for once Jean-Ralphio is not involved. He tries to dress stylishly, makes up and raps spontaneous rhymes, and often speaks in slang terms, such as variations of the suffix -izzle as popularized by rapper Snoop Dogg. For example, while comforting Tom at one point, Jean-Ralphio encourages him to "Turn that frizown upside-dizzity." [3]

Jean-Ralphio Saperstein
Parks and Recreation character
Jean-Ralphio Saperstein.jpg
First appearance"The Set Up"
Last appearance"One Last Ride"
Portrayed byBen Schwartz
OccupationCo-creator of Entertainment 720
Salesman at Lady Foot Locker
FamilyMona-Lisa Saperstein (twin sister)
Dr. Lu Saperstein (father)
Birth dateMarch 12, 1986

At the end of the third season, Tom leaves his city hall job to start an entertainment company with Jean-Ralphio. Their venture quickly falls apart due to extravagant spending, and they both move on to other schemes. Jean-Ralphio's twin sister Mona-Lisa and their obstetrician father are also introduced in later seasons.

Character biographyEdit

Jean-Ralphio is first introduced in "The Set Up,” when Tom brings him in for an interview to be Ron Swanson's new assistant; Jean-Ralphio is quickly rejected.[1][4] In "Woman of the Year,” when Tom is trying to find investors to help him buy a share of the Snakehole Lounge nightclub, Jean-Ralphio contributes $5,000 of the $10,000 Tom needs. Unable to raise the rest, the two approach Donna Meagle about investing along with them, but after a sales pitch from Jean-Ralphio, Donna rejects them and tells Tom, right in front of Jean-Ralphio, "I hate that guy."[1][5]

Jean-Ralphio also appeared in "The Master Plan,” wherein April Ludgate flirted with him at the Snakehole Lounge to make Andy jealous, prompting Andy to say about him, "That Ralph Macchio guy's a total douche."[6][7] Jean-Ralphio also appears in "The Fight,” wherein he helps Tom raise awareness for his new drink, Snakejuice, at the Snakehole Lounge. At one point, after drinking Snakejuice and having a fight with Ann Perkins, a drunken Leslie Knope demands to Jean-Ralphio, "Dance up on me.” which request he immediately and excitedly fulfills.[3][8]

In the third season finale, "Li'l Sebastian,” Tom encourages Jean-Ralphio to start a multimedia entertainment company called Entertainment 720. After their first successful job organizing a memorial event for celebrity miniature horse Li'l Sebastian, Tom decides to quit his city hall job to work with Jean-Ralphio and the company, which opens a modern office with strange decor, completely stark-white walls, and overpaid staff.[9][10] In the episode "Bailout,” Jean-Ralphio's sister Mona Lisa Saperstein (Jenny Slate) begins working for, then enters into a sexual relationship with, Tom.

In season 6, Jean-Ralphio and Mona Lisa's father, Dr. Saperstein - an obstetrician (played by Henry Winkler) who is often lied to by his children - makes an appearance. Under the impression that Tom unfairly drove Jean-Ralphio out of their business and took Mona Lisa's virginity, Dr. Saperstein opens a competing apparel store across from Tom's store, Rent-a-Swag, in order to drive him out of business. In the series finale "One Last Ride,” Jean-Ralphio fakes his and Mona Lisa's deaths, and tries to get insurance money to build a casino in Tajikistan. The twins are spotted by the funeral-goers and run away in panic. In another flash-forward scene in the same episode, Jean-Ralphio's name is visible on a bottle of champagne being served to Craig Middlebrooks and his husband.[11] Jean-Ralphio also confesses that he has been in love with Leslie for years.

In 2016, Schwartz and show creator Michael Schur jokingly confirmed a fan theory that Jean-Ralphio's real father is Stranger Things character Steve Harrington (Joe Keery),[12] given the similarities between the two characters.


Schwartz originally met with Parks and Recreation co-creator Michael Schur to discuss playing a different role on the show,[13] and Schur liked him so much that the character Jean-Ralphio was created specifically for Schwartz.[14] Schwartz said the character had "just a couple of lines" at first, but was eventually expanded.[13] After making his first few appearances in the second season, Schwartz began to appear less frequently because he was cast in the NBC action spy series Undercovers, but he was able to return more often after it was cancelled.[13][15] Schwartz was later cast in the Showtime series House of Lies, but Schur said they hoped to have Schwartz back "early and often.”[14] Like other cast members, Schwartz improvised a great deal during filming.[13]


In May 2011, Jean-Ralphio was placed number 7 on SplitSider's "The Ten Funniest Recurring Characters Currently on TV.”[16]


  1. ^ a b c Gonzalez, Sandra (March 5, 2010). "'Parks and Recreation' recap: In time for the Oscars, wise thoughts from a mustachioed man". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on March 13, 2011. Retrieved March 6, 2010.
  2. ^ Keller, Joel (May 20, 2011). "'Parks and Recreation' Season 3, Episodes 15 and 16 (Season Finale) Recap". TV Squad. Archived from the original on June 21, 2011. Retrieved May 29, 2011.
  3. ^ a b Gilbert, Megan (May 13, 2011). "Parks and Recreation recap: "The Fight"". Punchline Magazine. Archived from the original on June 21, 2011. Retrieved June 21, 2011.
  4. ^ Gonzalez, Sandra (January 15, 2010). ""Parks and Recreation" recap: Will Arnett can see your insides". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on January 22, 2011. Retrieved January 15, 2010.
  5. ^ Kandell, Steve (March 5, 2010). "Parks and Recreation Recap: Ron Ron Juiced". New York. Archived from the original on March 13, 2011. Retrieved March 6, 2010.
  6. ^ Fowler, Matt (May 14, 2010). "Parks and Recreation: "The Master Plan" Review". IGN. Archived from the original on June 14, 2011. Retrieved November 27, 2010.
  7. ^ Kandell, Steve (May 14, 2010). "Parks and Recreation Recap: Are We Having Fun Yet?". New York. Archived from the original on June 14, 2011. Retrieved November 27, 2010.
  8. ^ Sundermann, Eric (May 13, 2011). "'Parks and Recreation' Recap: The Fight/Road Trip". Archived from the original on June 21, 2011. Retrieved June 21, 2011.
  9. ^ Kandell, Steve (May 20, 2011). "Parks and Recreation Recap: The Champion of Death". New York. Archived from the original on June 21, 2011. Retrieved May 30, 2011.
  10. ^ Meslow, Scott (May 20, 2011). "'Parks and Recreation' Finale: This One's for the Fans". The Atlantic. Archived from the original on June 21, 2011. Retrieved May 26, 2011.
  11. ^ "Gaze upon the finale Easter egg that reveals Jean-Ralphio's post-Parks fate".
  12. ^ Robinson, Will (August 24, 2016). "Stranger Things and Parks & Rec: Jean-Ralphio is Steve's son, star says". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved August 25, 2016.
  13. ^ a b c d Rosen, Christopher (March 21, 2011). "Ben Schwartz on Peep World, Parks and Recreation and Writing the Soapdish Remake". Movieline. Archived from the original on June 21, 2011. Retrieved June 21, 2011.
  14. ^ a b Sepinwall, Alan (May 19, 2011). "Interview: 'Parks and Recreation co-creator Mike Schur post-mortems season 3". HitFix. Archived from the original on May 29, 2011. Retrieved May 28, 2011.
  15. ^ Sepinwall, Alan (April 14, 2011). "Review: 'Parks and Recreation' - 'Andy and April's Fancy Party': Impulse power". HitFix. Archived from the original on June 21, 2011. Retrieved April 16, 2011.
  16. ^ "The Ten Funniest Recurring Characters Currently on TV - Splitsider". Splitsider.