“This case just remained interesting.” – Parks and Recreation Recap

Are You Better Off Parks and Rec
Parks and Recreation
Season 5, Episode 22: Are You Better Off?
– Posted by Sage


Baby talk, new relationships, fertility doctors, unstable girlfriends – little did we know that Mike Schur & co. had been setting us up for MONTHS for a season finale mystery big enough to bring rogue FBI agent Burt Macklin out of retirement.

Macklin, you son of a bitch.

While looking for the sweatshirt he accidentally trashed, Andy finds a positive pregnancy test in the garbage after a weekend retreat at Ron’s cabin. Now it’s up to his alter ego to find out which of the five women who were there is good and knocked up. Like in the classic Dawson’s Creek “who had sex?” episode, there is evidence to support any of the five theories. Let’s take a look at our suspects:


Ann sperm donor Parks
Even Andy is savvy enough to question Ann first. Everyone knows that she and Chris are back together and trying to have a baby (though not necessarily in that order.) But no success yet. She sets Andy straight, expresses some joy/jealousy re: the future parent, and joins Macklin on the case. Ann’s got everything Andy’s looking for in a partner: #1, willingness to buy lunch; #2, there is no #2.


Use him abuse him Donna Parks and Rec
No one knows everything that Donna Meagle gets up to in Pawnee or in the sensuous rains of Seattle. There is every chance that this woman of mystery is keeping a secret from her colleagues. But, as Burt discovers during her interrogation, Donna is not, in fact, carrying 1/9 of a person. She’s a careful grown-up, thank you very much, and there is no way she’s dipping into her pedicure budget to cover any kid-related expenses.


Leslie Ben cute butt Parks
Blissful newlywed Leslie is also a strong candidate. In “Jerry’s Retirement,” she and Ben decide to open the conversation about starting their family, and we all know they are doin’ it anytime they’re not working. Burt barges in to Leslie’s “victory lap” town forum with Ann hot on his heels, wielding the positive test and demanding answers. Once again, excellent face-acting by Adam Scott for the split second before Leslie answered and Ben thought he might be about to become a father. But no, Leslie isn’t the culprit. And she’s got more pressing problems on her hands than finding out who is. More on that later.

Mona Lisa

Mona Lisa Tom threeway Parks
Despite his genuine terror of her and Ann’s best efforts to untangle him, Tom is still with Mona Lisa. And they’re having sex in trees and parking lots and god knows where else. Burt and Ann break the news to Tom first, showing him the test. (“Womb! There It Is.” “That’s her brand.”) Tom sits Mona Lisa down to ask her what’s up, and surprise: a wild Jean Ralphio appears!

Jean Ralphio Mona Lisa Parks

My sweet prince, the nights are so long without you.

Anyway, it’s not Mona Lisa either, though she let’s Tom believe it for long enough to cause unrepairable damage to his nervous system (and for him to make a “dumb-dumb face.”) “Do you know how many different pills I take, birth control or otherwise? There is no way I could be pregnant with a human baby.” Good point. Science!


Janet Snakehole Parks
That leaves one remaining female who was at the cabin on the weekend in question. April was the first suspect crossed off Burt’s Homeland/Castle-esque bulletin board, because he was sure she would have told Andy right away. But once he and Ann have exhausted all other possibilities, it seems clear that April is preggers. The ambiguous phone call she receives earlier in the ep supports this theory. Case solved, Burt fades back into the shadows and Andy runs to celebrate with his wife. She has news, but not the kind he’s expecting. April was accepted into vet school and Andy wholeheartedly supports this dream of hers that he’s known about for nearly 20 seconds. (“I’m really glad I married you.” “Yeah, we made a good call on that one.”) He also supports their family plan for adopting two adult Romanian twins some day.  Families come in all shapes and sizes, my friends. Love is love.

…so who is it?

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“You’re the worst.” – Parks and Recreation Recap

 photo parksandrecswingvote_zps3fe5dd89.jpg

Parks and Recreation
Season 5, Episode 21: Swing Vote
– Posted by Sage

Ron and Leslie, you guys. If Leslie/Ann is the lady friendship against to measure all other TV lady friendships, Ron/Leslie set a similarly high bar for friendships between colleagues.

In “Swing Vote,” these two went toe to toe again, this time to decide on the fate of the Pawnee Palms Public Put-Put. You’d be hard pressed to find another pair this evenly matched in determination and idealism, which makes for a stiff competition. Ron sees the course as a drain on the taxpayer and has proposed cutting it completely, while Leslie sees it as a public service that enriches the community and, of course, seeks to save it. The other City Council members are divided, which makes our pal Jeremy Jamm the swing vote. Just like Kevin Costner! (That was a thing, right?)

Leslie’s savviness has a limit. This first year in City Council, she’s been surprised to uncover (gasp!) a deep well of cronyism and corruption (mild as it is) in local politics. And when she has her heart set on an outcome, she finds herself engaging in the same questionable behavior as her less savory colleagues. Do the ends justify the means? Ron doesn’t think so. He calls Leslie out on her schmoozing and borderline bribery (via snow cones and mylar balloons, of course) of Jamm. He gives speeches about principles and ethics until Leslie is ready to take him out with the fat Hawaiian guy’s putter. But after Jamm promises his vote to Ron and then comes to her ready to re-sell it, she realizes that she’s become a part of cycle. We’re all dreaming of Knope 2020, but could it be possible that Leslie isn’t cut out for this line of work?

Leslie goes to Ron’s office to apologize, and it’s one of my favorite scenes ever between them. She confesses that she thought that political conflicts would be more like dealing with Ron – people having strong opinions and hashing them out until they reach a compromise. Or, until someone gets hungry and gives up. She also says that Ron’s principles drive her completely nuts, but also that they are one of the reasons she loves and respects him so much. Somewhere in that yellow head, she knew that using gifts to influence Jamm was wrong – that’s why she was so frustrated with Ron calling her out. Ron never lets Leslie off the hook, because he knows who she is and what she’s capable of.  Now, that’s a mentor.

Andy is dealing with his own unwritten code, when he finds out that Burley and the rest of Mouserat have been performing without him. Yes, Ratmouse is gigging and Andy accidentally stumbles on them at celebratory drinks with April and  his boss and reluctant DD, Ben.

Didn't recognize them Andy Parks and Recreation
When confronted, the guys tell him that they’ve been trying to get a hold of him. He’s just been so busy with his job that he hasn’t made rehearsals. After a somewhat triumphant solo performance (a “swan song” where Andy=a swan), Andy gives up music. He equates being a successful adult – and he is successful at this Sweetums Foundation thing – with letting go of the passions that keep you from leaping out of any open window. (“I don’t need the stress of playing guitar with my friends a few times a week.”) Luckily, he’s got April, who – even though Mouserat hardly compares to German Death Reggae in her mind – reminds him how much he loves his band and encourages him to apologize and ask to be let back in. Mouserat lives, now with two lead singers!

Finally this week, Jenny Slate as Mona Lisa Saperstein is back. Jean Ralphio’s sister is still dating Tom, though Tom is beginning to fear for his own safety. Jean Ralphio is harmless (annnnnd hot), but Mona Lisa is 10000% crazytown bananapants. Tom offers ex-gf Ann (remember that?) his very favorite blanket, Chenille O’Neal, if she will break up with Mona Lisa for him. Mona Lisa impassively pulls out a screwdriver when Ann introduces herself, and the night pretty much proceeds from there: Mona Lisa dumps Tom for being a “poorsie,” becomes best friends with Ann, gives Ann a dirt and glitter makeover, reconsiders Tom, catches Ann and Tom “making out,” and then, because what else would you do in this situation, suggests they have a threesome. When Ann says no, she propositions a willing blond. Best night of Tom’s life? Well, it would have been if Mona Lisa hadn’t gotten into a fight with the girl in the parking lot, smashed her car window, and stole all her birth control pills.

You're Gonna Get Pregnant Parks and Recreation

Ke$ha has already optioned the rights.

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“Hello, Ann Perkins, my fallopian princess!” – Parks and Recreation Recap

Gergich family breakfast - Parks and Recreation
Parks and Recreation
Season 5, Episode 19: Article Two
Season 5, Episode 20: Jerry’s Retirement
– Posted by Sage

The conclusion of Season 5 and the likely announcement of Season 6 are in sight, and we got a Parks doubleheader this week! With no elections, no clandestine relationships, and the wedding in the can, the lead up to the season finale isn’t as tension-filled as years past. I’ve been sure for a few weeks now that we’d have a pregnant Ann Perkins by the season finale. But (twist!), could Leslie and Ann both be knocked up in Season 6? If you think they’re cute now, just imagine them in maternity wear.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

It’s Ted Party Day in Pawnee, and thanks to some hard-to-decipher handwriting in the charter, the town celebrates a historic tea dump by throwing some poor guy who actually goes by Theodore into Ramsett Lake. This is what Leslie Knope LIVES for. It’s everything she loves about Pawnee, and I have to side with her on this one – these quirky traditions are what make towns into communities. But the Ted in question has pretty much had it, and challenges Leslie to man up and hold up all of the other outdated laws in the town charter too. He had his phone in his pocket. I can understand the rage.

Has Patton Oswalt been on this show forever? Because that’s what it feels like. Garth Blunden (another classic name) is so perfectly Pawnee and such an appropriate foil for Leslie. Unless you are headless, you have seen or at least heard about Oswalt’s 8 minute plus outtake from this week’s episode, where he busted out the best filibuster since Stackhouse to block Leslie’s proposed amendments to the charter. If you haven’t watched it yet, you owe it to yourself to do so now. I hope JJ Abrams took notes, because I would watch the shit out of that movie. My only quibble is that Han and Leia stay together in the officially licensed Star Wars sequel novels, so that’s canon. Sorry, Garth. Also, how am I still single?

Garth challenges Leslie to play house, pioneer style, and he schools her. Leslie is unaccustomed to not being the best student of Pawnee history in the room, but she realizes that Garth’s aptitude for the task is a direct result of his sad and lonely life. (I refuse to read anything into this and my extensive knowledge of Star Wars novelized fanfic.) Garth accepts her invitation to join the Pawnee Historical Society and volunteers to be their Ted. There is no quicker way of making friends than by suggesting that they ceremoniously throw you into a freezing lake. Or hand-churning them some sweet, delicious sunshine.

Butter is my favorite food

Meanwhile, Ann and Ben are making friends by, well, battling over who is the better friend to Leslie. FutureMrsTigerWoods and TallTyrionLannister are in a bidding war for a vintage JJ’s waffle maker to give to their bestie/wife for Breakfast Day or Waffle Day, respectively. Leslie’s thoughtfulness drives them to take more and more drastic action to prove themselves worthy. I.E. future mother Ann Perkins is considering doing $500 worth of nitrous with the scary pawn shop guy. And so on. But Ben and Ann find out that they’re more powerful when they join forces. Together, they can give Leslie the perfect gift for both occasions, and convince her to cram all of their mini-anniversaries into an Ann Week and a Ben Week and a Friend Week, where they will commemorate this very decision. There will always be a tiny bit of competitiveness in Ben and Ann’s relationship, and that’s okay. Ann could hardly approve a husband who didn’t wouldn’t enter into these little challenges to prove his love for Leslie, and likewise, Ben couldn’t respect a best friend who wouldn’t do the same.

Sadly, in the second episode of last week, it was time to say goodbye to our friend Jerry. (Or was it?) He’s retiring today. (Or is he?) Unfortunately, no one realized it until he brought out his sad little file box of belongings and bid a teary farewell to his coworkers. Leslie, who was supposed to be taking the day off with Ben, decides to help make a few of Young Jerry’s work dreams come true. How she is able to resist a day of making out and mac and cheese pizza with a rumpled Ben Wyatt going casual in an old LETTERS TO CLEO T-SHIRT is completely beyond my understanding, but there you have it.

Ben and Leslie's day off

Jerry’s hopes and dreams are just as depressing as we all imagined, and it’s all the more gloomy that Leslie can’t manage to make any of them really come true. It’s difficult to arrange a meet and greet with a crooked politician who was pushed out of a plane, for example. But the triumph in Jerry’s life isn’t work. It’s his creepily beautiful, sweet, and upbeat family and their insatiable admiration of him. Leslie steps into their idyllic happy home and regrets neglecting her own family in favor of her job. Now, I’m sort of into just having Leslie and Ben on their own for a while longer, but if Season 6 is our last chance to see baby Joe Knope-Wyatt, then let’s do this.

Actually doing it are Chris and Ann, taking the advice that Kim and I have been screaming into our TVs for months. Chris has the resting heart rate of a tortoise and Ann’s ovulating, but the cold and clinical reality of the sperm bank is depressing them. After a couple of fertility pamphlets and a little bit of sexy talk, it’s off to make a baby the old-fashioned way. HURRAY. When Chris and Ann first came about, Chris was still the teensiest bit insufferable. They weren’t a match. Now that he’s emerged from his midlife crisis as a more practical, less neurotic man, he’s a much better fit for our lovely Ann Perkins. They attempt to have “the talk,” but “the talk” doesn’t always result in answers. It’s enough to pose the questions and then put it all on pause to make out.

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“I think that guy wants to hunt me.” – Parks and Rec Recap

Parks and Rec Animal Control Promo Still

Parks and Recreation
Season 5, Episode 18: Animal Control
– Posted by Sage

Hey there, cats and kittens – I know that I am unforgivably late with this Parks review, since my backlog now includes the double eps that aired just last night. Luckily, “Animal Control” was classic Pawnee comedy, focusing on a few funny situations and none of the ongoing story arcs of this season. We’ll make this quick.

A hale and hearty welcome back to Harris and Brett of Pawnee’s Animal Control department! Though Andy Samberg’s Carl from seasons past couldn’t stay with us, I’m more than satisfied with his stoner replacements, who display the same lazy ingenuity we’ve come to expect from the most advanced of potheads. Say what you will about the result, but I bet you wouldn’t have even TRIED to fashion a Flintstones-style work whistle out of a dead crow. 99% perspiration, so they say.

This episode featured a few of my favorite Parks character teams, including Leslie and Chris, who commit to overhauling the Animal Control department after visiting Brett and Harris’s Hall of Horrors (and Possum/Cats). It takes an eternal optimist like Chris Traeger to make Leslie Knope look like a realist. But getting maimed by a animal trap will put anyone in a bad mood, so Chris finally agrees that it’s time to find a replacement. Leslie refuses to bow to the Councilman’s boy’s club tradition of taking turns making governmental appointments to whoever is owed a favor, but, in a not-so-shocking turn of events, is unable to find anyone in Pawnee qualified for (or even not dangerous IN) the job. Candidates include Jerry Gergich, who talks himself into a Parks department pay cut; Orin, who plans on controlling the animals with his mind; some lady who was only advised to apply by therapist Dr. Richard Nyguard (cue a delighted Chris Traeger grin) to face her crippling fear of animals; and Harris and Brett, who decide to move on when they realize how physically close they have come to local law enforcement.

Where the cops at? Parks and Recreation

Leslie feels powerless to object to Jamm’s appointment without a viable candidate to oppose him. So, in true Knope fashion, she runs with the decent idea she comes up with, without considering the other people involved. April loves animals, Leslie loves April = April should have the job. As April is being interrogated at her nomination hearing, Chris tells Leslie what she doesn’t want to hear, but knows to be true: April isn’t ready. I breathed a sigh of relief when Leslie’s scheme failed, because I really want April to pursue vet school. While her compassion for animals will surely mean that the world will not yet learn a 5th way to skin a cat, it hardly qualifies April for the job of pest population control. That story would probably end with April taking all the rats and raccoons home and raising them with Andy instead of destroying them. But it is April who comes up with the best solution: have the Parks department absorb Animal Control. Leslie names April the Deputy Director, and seals the deal with a plaque she had made during April’s first week on the job. And this is why we forgive Leslie for throwing April into the deep end to avoid losing to Jamm and his cronies. Who but Leslie would have seen any potential for leadership in Season One’s April Ludgate?

April Ludgate half wolf

Speaking of fostering potential, Andy is out with Ben and Tom, pounding the pavement to solicit all of Pawnee’s biggest businesses for donations to the Sweetums Foundation. Today’s target is Dennis Feinstein (Jason Mantzoukas is back!), fragrance mogul and all-around rich sociopath. Dennis is more concerned with “hunting” drugged Russian foxes and possibly a little Indian guy dressed in the Ralph Lauren 2010 collection than giving away any of his money. But Ben and co. are working on wearing him down, stroking his ego by comparing him to sports stars and enduring his constant bullying. The “scent artist” behind Spasm, Butterface, Ooze, Moneyshot, and Blood Spurt is a total asshole, and Andy is the first member of the team to run out of schmoozing energy and tell it like it is. As usual, Chris Pratt’s delivery was inspired. He blurts out, to his face, that Dennis is a dick like the words have a mind of their own. Poor Andy thinks he’s cost the foundation a huge contributor. Look, I’ve worked for non-profits for my entire career, and there have been moments when the staff has been bending over backwards to meet a donor’s seemingly arbitrary demands and we’re left wondering if it’s all worth it. MAYBE they could have talked Dennis into a donation if Andy hadn’t have said what he said. Or maybe they would have wasted even more time trying to convince a guy who was just fucking with them all along. Either way, Feinstein is off the call list and it’s Rent-a-Swag who commits portion of its proceeds to all those “poor homies.”

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“I regret nothing, the end.” – Parks and Recreation Recap

Parks and Recreation Partridge promo still

Parks and Recreation
Season 5, Episode 17: Partridge
– Posted by Sage

We’re back, finally! The world has been sans new Parks episodes for a few weeks, and it feels like AGES since we’ve had a Ben and Leslie-centric storyline. Wasn’t it satisfying to get in some QT with our favorite newlyweds this week?

In “Partridge,” Leslie accompanies Ben back to his hometown – the one he bankrupted as teen mayor – for a ceremony where he’ll finally receive the key to the city. Okay, first of all – we KNOW how embarrassed Ben still is about the Ice Town debacle. The snafu was what led him down the path of hopping from town to town, fixing finances and refusing to engage for fear of being counted on and screwing up again. Until Pawnee and Leslie. Without Leslie, Ben would never set foot back in Partridge, at least not without a disguise of some kind. I’m not saying that she twisted his arm, but that she gives him perspective. She reminds him constantly of everything he’s achieved and, more importantly, that she’s so proud of 18-year-old Ben for TRYING. It was when he first told Leslie about Ice Town that she started to see him as more than “Mean Ben”. Here was someone who cared so much about his town that he decided to give up his teen years – the time when we’re all the most selfish – to try to make it better. Leslie was powerless to resist a kindred public servant, especially one with that adorable of a butt.

…which is why she is INCENSED that the whole ceremony was just a ruse to get Benji into town so that they could make fun of him again, to his face. Parks is an idealistic show in a cynical world, and in this episode, cynicism got its ass handed to it. Complaining is easy. Sitting in a crowd or behind a computer and criticizing people who actually act is entirely without risk. We’re all guilty of it. The people of Partridge showed up to a civic event JUST because involved humiliating someone. Not many would describe Pawnee as a “classy” town, but Leslie’s right. She’ll sit in town meetings that last for hours, because what she hears is “people caring loudly” at her – people who show up to be a part of the future of their town, no matter how kooky their ideas might be. And Ben’s able to let it all go, because he’s got Leslie in his corner and a new home. But more importantly: BEN WYATT ON MORPHINE.

Ben Wyatt I'm feeding your eagle


“You’re like a flower or no, like a snugbug.”

“We should just go for it, you know? LIFE.”

“Nah, I’m goody goody. You just do your thaaaang, baby smurf.”

Gold, all of it. I ship Morphine!Ben and Flu!Leslie hard.

So, we can’t change the past. All we can do is move on and do better and acknowledge all those times we dreamed/threatened about punching someone in the face.

Ron Swanson I regret nothing

Ron Ulysses Swanson is being sued by cartoon villain Councilman Jamm for the dental and emotional damage he did by throwing that haymaker at Leslie’s first wedding. He calls Tom, April, and Andy as character witnesses. Sweet, simple Andy is incapable of lying, even about his own shortcomings. But Tom and April (especially April) are evil geniuses, who do their duty to Ron by painting a picture of a sentimental vegetarian who’d never hurt a fly. The only truth in that is that Ron IS a big softy. He’s wanted to punch Jamm out for years, but the only thing that could drive him to ACTUALLY do it was Jamm threatening the happiness of his best friend. I know.

I referred to Jamm earlier as a cartoon villain, and here’s why. All of the other characters who have been obstacles to Leslie & Co. have been working for their own wants. Joan wants to famous. Lindsay Carlise-Shay wants to forget that she didn’t grow up in a privileged town like Eagleton. Bobby Newport just wants his dad to be proud of him. Sure, Jamm wants money. But he also wants to stick it to those meddling Parks kids, because he finds their camaraderie and decency so annoying. He’s getting a huge comeuppance at the end of this season and I can’t wait to see what it is.

Anyway: Ron, much like Dexter Morgan, has a code. Plenty of shows and commercials have lots to tell us about what it is to “be a man.” They’d have us believe it mostly means pretending to enjoy listening to your wife and doing anything you can to get a look at some yabbos. To Ron, it means eating animals and drinking old scotch, yes. But it also means playing fair, supporting your friends, and owning up to all of your words and actions. He even respects the guy who served him his papers. As Brad said about Max on Happy Endings last week in a meta-moment – “What a fresh character!” Tom and April come clean to the deposition, but still manage to come up with a scheme to Jamm Jamm and protect Ron. Sorry, Jamm. You’re not going to get between these guys.

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“Fracking for friendship.” – Parks and Recreation Recap

Parks and Recreation Bailout Promo
Parks and Recreation
Season 5, Episode 16: Bailout
– Posted by Sage

I’ve often wished that science would clone the swaggie perfection that is Jean Ralphio Saperstein. But until we get over our stupid ethics (playing god, schmaying god), twin-sister-from-the-same-mister Mona Lisa is the best we’re going to get.

Parks and Recreation I will start a fire

I’ll leave the Freudian analysis of why Tom was so ready to give the D to the female version of his best friend to the professionals, but I WILL say that Jenny Slate is always a complete delight. She’s also the object of my most ardent jealousy, getting to work with Ben Schwartz on this season of House of Lies too. (By the by, are we supposed to be shipping Marty and Jeannie there? Weird. I digress.)

They’re family, yes. But Jean Ralphio thinks she’s…well, I’ll let him tell you:

Parks and Recreation the worst

Mona Lisa’s got all her brother’s style and complete ignorance of societal norms, PLUS a fairly violent streak. While Tom has stopped letting Jean Ralphio peer pressure him into all the things, he hasn’t developed that tolerance to the influence of his twin. Mona Lisa wraps Tom around her well-manicured, terrifying finger. Even Chris’s parenting can’t sway him into giving up a few torrid weeks of public sex and Pitbull concerts. Or public sex AT Pitbull concerts? I bet they get that a lot.

But Chris is satisfied enough with his sack-of-flour experiment to get over his hang-ups about “negatively affecting any living thing” and deliver the good news with his most joyous “Ann Perkins!” Now, when Ann popped the question, that question was about being her sperm donor. When Chris comes to give his answer, he tells Ann that he’s ready to raise a child. And she’s thrilled. Chris and Ann are not just having a baby, you guys. They are making a family. My shipper heart! Let’s raise a glass of your cheapest wine, because I honestly can’t tell the difference.

Hold up, though. Does Leslie even know about this? As far as we’ve seen, the only people Ann has told about asking Chris to be the father of her child are Ron and April. Is she afraid that Leslie wouldn’t approve? Or, more likely, that Leslie would have involved herself in some kind of scheme to get him to accept? I can’t wait for her to find out.

Leslie was distracted this week by the tribulations of the Pawnee Videodome and its owner Dennis Lerpiss, played by our second guest star and fellow Bored to Death (RIPalum Jason Schwartzman. The indie-centric video store is failing because, as Joe Mande kept reminding us, everything is online. For free. All the time. Leslie can’t stand to see the neglected store go under, even though she can’t bring herself to be interested in bleak foreign films or Japanese slime candy. What she loves about it is that Dennis hosts screenings and discussions where the few Pawnee film buffs can get together and talk movies. Leslie is a modern lady with plenty of use for virtual expression. But she’s also a community builder who feels the loss of face-to-face communication those advancements create. Her solution, to Ron’s dismay, is to use government resources to have the store declared a historical landmark and give Dennis a chance to make it more accessible. And that’s how, to Ron’s delight, Leslie ended up inspiring the creation of Pawnee’s first porn emporium. It’s wildly successful. You gotta give the people what they want.

And what Ann wants, second to Chris Traeger’s fastest swimmers, is for April to like her. April’s faux-disdain of Ann is a holdover from her crush on Andy and how insecure it made her feel. By now, she’s only going through the motions. Ann’s ready to crack right through that thinning ice. She starts with a healthy does of blackmail, holding her recommendation of April to vet school hostage. Then she moves on to a heavily scheduled day of BFF activities. But what gets April to finally come around is that Ann shares her anxiety about Chris. She confides in her. She gives her that friend privilege. And that’s what April responds to. April may be uncomfortable with sincerity, but she despises pretense.

Aw, my girls. Well done. Let’s have a best friend singalong! Donna’s invited too.

Parks and Recreation Time after Time

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“They’re giving me the light.” – Parks and Recreation Recap

Correspondents Lunch Knope Sucks

Parks and Recreation
Season 5, Episode 15: Correspondents’ Lunch
– Posted by Sage

Strap on your adult diapers, you guys. In the episode that immediately followed the tear-a-minute Ben and Leslie wedding, Pawnee’s journalists and politicians are sharpening their barbs and getting ready to roast each other at the annual Correspondents’ Lunch. Leslie is far too confident about flaying her nemesis, the Pawnee Sun, with jokes, so I’d bet an autographed portrait of Scott Caan that something’s about to go wrong.

Melting faces Leslie Knope

I wish that NBC had scheduled “Leslie and Ben” to stand alone and doubled up “Correspondents’ Lunch” with another episode the week after. But, le sigh, if NBC ever took our advice about scheduling and promoting its programming, it wouldn’t be dead last every week and thus lose the failure status it’s so aggressively cultivated in these last few years. Anyhoodle, this ep was a fun return to form for Leslie and team and did advance the Chris/Ann baby-daddy plotline in a satisfying way.

Chris Traeger’s reaction to Ann’s hastily blurted sperm request was proof that she asked the right guy. Chris was flattered, surprised, and humbled. I had thought that the writers were setting up a rekindling of Chris and Ann with the way his admiration of and respect for her had clearly been growing after their breakup. But those sly foxes were working up to this. Chris truly thinks that everything about Ann Perkins (“Ann Perkins!”) is wonderful. Who would be a better mother to his child? Ann’s maturity is a nice contrast to Shauna’s aversion to labels, which was so frustrating to him. Maybe this will lead to Chris/Ann getting back together (and to planting ficuses anywhere these two consenting adults want); but, in the meantime, I love the idea of these two creating their own little non-traditional family.

Meanwhile, Leslie is gearing up her zingiest zingers to take down the vultures at the Post-esque Pawnee Sun (they of the classic headline, “Knope Grope Last Hope.”) She inadvertently exposes a Murdoch-style hacking scandal when she deduces how the Sun‘s Kim Terlando managed to steal all her jokes AND get the scoop on other City Hall business. Terlando also got a little more than she bargained for, apparently having to sift through emails like “Top Ten Ben’s Butt 2012 Slideshow,” which was only meant to be seen by Ben, Ann, and the folks over at Huffpo. Maybe Beslie will consider putting their Lord of the Rings RP fetish letters in longhand now. I’m pretty sure they didn’t have Outlook in Middle Earth anyway.

We got a little nod from Team Parks to the whole “Are women funny?” business, the question that just won’t die and which Amy P. twice described as being “boring.” Leslie tries to quickly drum up some new material for her speech at the lunch, and, of course, turns first to her solver, Ann. Ann doesn’t exactly have the stage presence of a seasoned performer, in fact she’s spent the last few days lit-rally running away from Chris in the halls. She gives Leslie a rambling joke(?) about Councilman Milton having a green tie just like a dinosaur (what?) and Leslie disappointedly responds, “Oh, Ann. You’re too beautiful to be funny. You never had to compensate for anything.” The less attractive people? Not off the hook.

The rest of you ugly nerds Leslie

Chris’s face though!

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“I love you and I like you.” – Parks and Recreation Recap

Leslie Ann wedding dress
Parks and Recreation
Season 5, Episode 14: Leslie and Ben
– Posted by Sage

“So how does it happen, great love? Nobody knows… but what I can tell you is that it happens in the blink of an eye. One moment you’re enjoying your life, and the next you’re wondering how you ever lived without them. “

The heartfelt and off-the-cuff ceremony Tom Haverford conducted for Leslie Knope and Ben Wyatt was lovely and all, but it would have been even better if he had kept just one quote from the modern classic Hitch in there. After all, nobody knows more about the matters of the heart than that guy.

In fact, Ben’s gorgeous self-written vows are practically a paraphrasing of this little truth nugget. Ben is the Hitch of our small-town story, someone who just going about his business, not expecting to get smacked right in the face with true love. And that makes Chris Traeger our Kevin James? Or something. I haven’t worked it all out yet.

Anyway, I cried. You cried. Even Ron cried, possibly into a vat of hot, liquid metal. “Ben and Leslie” was 22 minutes of television to heal the evils of a world gone mad and mend all our broken spirits. It was a bombardment of effortlessly moving moments. Just as you crested one wave of feels, another broke right over it: Leslie calls her wedding dress “the most beautiful object” she’s ever seen and thus, “the Ann Perkins of dresses;” Donna sings Leslie down the aisle; Chris gives Ben the mounted letter commemorating their assignment to Pawnee, where they “both found home”, and so on. Over and over again, we’ve watched the group rally around Leslie, occasionally to protect, usually to support. This time, it was to celebrate her. It’s all about the bride and you know it.

Leslie is a force of nature. She’s driven, Type-A, and egotistical in the best possible way. It takes someone who demands that life bend to her to accomplish so much and connect so many people in the way that Leslie has. And everything she’s got, she’s got to share. So there’s just no question that her friends are going to scavenge through the “jewelry and nails” tray at the pawn shop or interrupt Ethel Beavers’ hot date to pull this wedding off. Because of his simplicity, Andy can often be the most insightful member of the group. Before he re-dedicates Lil’ Sebastian’s memorial song to the happy couple, he honors Leslie for being the reason that each one of them was not only in the room that day, but also in that place in their individual lives.

Ron and Leslie wedding speech

I’m still reeling from the exhausting and nasty attempts at comedy that were on parade at Sunday’s Oscars. What’s getting even older is the implication that people (like yours truly) who don’t find these boring, offensive jokes recycled from the trashcan in the Two and a Half Men writers room funny don’t understand comedy or are just plain humorless. Nein. It’s just that, if comedy is your job, I expect you to put a little work in. Luckily, some people are. Parks, Community, New Girl, and the dearly departed Ben and Kate have all succeeded in making nice funny. Take a line like this one, when Leslie is insisting that Ron give her away: “I lost my father when I was 10, I don’t have any brothers, and Ken Burns never wrote me back.” This is writing, you guys. In 20 words, this joke tells a story, gets a laugh, and put a big ol’ tear in your eye. And another, this one courtesy mostly of our actors: During the ceremony, April mock-complains about the schmaltziness of the proceedings, and Ben turns around and gives her this LOOK, as if to say, “I love you, you little brat.” And she smiles. And it was just such a tiny, exquisite moment about how all of these people accept each other for who they are. It gave me chills, I swear.

This episode was written to serve as the series finale if NBC didn’t come to its senses and order a back nine. And it would have been a great one. But thankfully, Parks lives to fight another day and to further ruin our lives with words and faces like these.

I love you and I like you Leslie Ben

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