13 May 2020 22:35
Welcome to Lauren Lapkus' Animal Crossing island David Spade as Tim Morris and Lauren Lapkus as Missy in "The Wrong Missy." David Spade as Tim Morris and Lauren Lapkus as Missy in "The Wrong Missy." Photo: Netflix Photo By Katrina Marcinowski Photo: Netflix Photo By Katrina Marcinowski Image 1 of / 1 Caption Close Welcome to Lauren Lapkus' Animal Crossing island 1 / 1 Back to Gallery The Nintendo Switch hit Animal Crossing lines up perfectly with our collective quarantines, and the folks who keep us entertained with their musical, comedic and/or athletic abilities are pouring hours into escapism on their new islands. They've been fishing, picking fruit, decorating and paying off loans to Tom Nook just like the rest of us. So with real-life travel essentially nonexistent at the moment, The Washington Post decided to tour a few celebrity islands to see where the magic happens. Lauren Lapkus is a comedian, actress ("Orange is the New Black," "Good Girls," "Jurassic World"), and improv podcast participant ("Comedy Bang! Bang!," "With Special Guest Lauren Lapkus").
She co-stars in the new Netflix film "The Wrong Missy," is recording her podcast "Newcomers: Star Wars," in which she and Nicole Byer watch the Star Wars movies for the first time and comedically break them down. As anything but a regular gamer, Lapkus did not set off to Animal Crossing's isles until social media made her fear missing out. "I'd heard of the game for years - mostly through Chrissy Teigen's Twitter - she was always posting about it. But I never knew what it was," said Lapkus. "And then once we all got in lockdown, I noticed all my friends were posting about playing it. They were all tweeting about it and going to each other's islands, and I was like, 'I think it's time for me to get into this game.' Thankfully, we already own a Switch because my husband (actor Mike Castle) plays video games." "So we downloaded it and then my life changed for the better," said Lapkus. When I arrived at Lapkus's Plumville island on April 12, Bunny Day was in full swing, and my host was immediately self-conscious about it. "I'm going to change clothes because I feel like my Easter outfit is humiliating with company," she said. Lapkus has taken a slow and exploratory approach to the game over the past few weeks. She hasn't been grinding to pay back her Nook loans, she just got her residential services building, and she's fine with discovering things at a relaxed pace, including Tom Nook's financial scheme and museum donations. "Initially, I didn't know what it was. So I was just enjoying the tasks the game gave me," Lapkus said. "I like calm simple games like this. I used to play 'The Sims' when I was growing up, and this kind of feels similar." Instead of turning to the Internet to learn Animal Crossing's intricacies, she's mostly been figuring out the game's potential via the nuances of her pals' isles. "I visited Paul F. Tompkins' island, and it was so well-decorated that it made me realize my island was not up to par," she said. "So I've been working at organizing it and putting the flowers in the right spots. I had it really chaotic at first - just digging holes and making it look insane - but I realized it could look so pretty, so I became more focused on that." Plumville's theme comes across as all things "cute, girly and teeny objects." "I also collect miniatures, and I just realized today that that's one reason that I really love this," Lapkus said. "You get all these cute little things and put them in places, and I love how that feels." The island name itself has no particular personal significance other than it sounded cute. In the realm of Animal Crossing, that's enough. Lapkus' one-room house is a model of understated simplistic living, and customization thrills her. The cherry blossom wallpaper and cheetah print flooring surprisingly blend together harmoniously, perhaps because of the unifying effect of the decor's earthy green tones. While the room is filled with delightful little items (the vintage rotary phone, her stylish and functional desk/bunk bed combo, the sombrero hanging on the wall), she's most attached to the things that she'd want in her real house, such as the large ice cream cone lamp, the green wooden wardrobe and the aroma pot. The game has become relief in a world that's not too funny at the moment. "I think it's the perfect mind-numbing, soothing exercise to do in this weird time," she said. "I get very calm when I play the game. And then I'll have moments where I just want to cry about what's going on in the world, and I'll look at what I'm playing and how my emotions are not matching. I'm like having an existential crisis while playing this children's game that I find extremely soothing." "I find myself laughing very hard at this game," Lapkus said. "I don't know what that said about the state of my mental health, but uhhh. maybe it's a good thing?" "Like when I first started, I went to [comedian] Zach Reino's island with Paul. And he was like, 'Oh wait, let me grab some instruments!' And he went to his house and grabbed three instruments - I had a tambourine and Paul had a flute. And we were just standing there playing these instruments in the game - which have no melody and are just like. sound. And it was so funny to me just picturing the three of us in homes, doing it separately and taking it seriously. I was just laughing so hard." "I typed out, 'this is psychotic,' which took me about 5 minutes to type. It was a great social memory." Perhaps the most amusing moment of my Plumville visit came as we blew past the creepily chipper Bunny Day mascot, Zipper. "This is the [expletive] annoying bunny that I want to kill," Lapkus dryly noted. She added, "He said if you complete all the Bunny Day tasks you get a special prize. And I was not going to do it. and then I just decided I will because I have nothing else going on in my life." Sommerfeld is a Seattle-based culture writer.