Parks and Recreation
Season 6, Episode 16: New Slogan
Posted by Sage
A thoughtful and aggressive rebranding can mean the difference between fading out or thriving. Just ask Christian singer Katy
Perry Hudson or that giant baby-man who runs Abercrombie and Fitch. Whether it’s a new coat of paint, a bright and shiny pair of whipped cream boob-guns, or a ventilation system ready to wage chemical warfare on customers with A&F “Woods for Men,” it’s not about changing the product as much as it is about changing the way people think about the product. And Pawnee, “First in friendship, fourth in obesity,” is due for a conceptual overhaul.
Ben’s done his part, redesigning the town website and tricking it out by digitizing tons of civil services. But look! There’s a panda in a top hat. And his name is Peebo. And he plays ping pong. With his tail. I love you, Ben.
I’d have gone with a cuddly raccoon to rebrand those little fuckers too. But perhaps the relationship between Pawneeans and their masked adversaries is just too broken. Anyhoo, the second biggest distraction on Ben’s well-crafted website is the public poll for the new town slogan. Because even though Leslie was voted out of office by these people, she still holds democracy sacred. Poor patriotic bastard. They’re going to screw her again, aren’t they?
At least a few of the town morons are craftier than we thought. Crazy Ira and the Douche didn’t get to be Pawnee’s top shockjocks by not being shameless self-promoters. “Welcome to Douche Nation,” they order their listeners to write in. It’s winning, and maybe Crazy Ira should start demanding equal billing. So Leslie’s futile half-attempt to let the voting take its course is gone in a soundboard fart noise. She’s going to “sit forward and take it hard,” and, clad in a Douche Nation sweatshirt, tries to Trojan Horse her message into their show.
Lesbo Baggins is unsuccessful, though she at least gets to sneak in some deserved praise for Emma Watson’s acting career. “Let it go,” Ben tells her. “Delete the poll.” But no. Leslie will not give up on soliciting the vote of the people. She’ll just bend it to her will. She brings in Harris (Hi, Joe Mande!), who demands Bitcoins (“What?”) for hacking into the poll and mass e-mailing Leslie’s impassioned letter to all the voters. Pawnee’s answer to Anonymous doesn’t take this well, and suddenly Peebo’s got a new hat made of dicks. Peebo humiliated. Leslie rating celebrity boobs with the only two people in the world who still think “Me so horny” is funny. Is this all worth it?
Maybe, if it can be another lesson in letting go. Grant Larsen is still in the picture, meeting Leslie at JJ’s to answer several binders-worth of questions about this new job. (“I’m going to need two hours worth of waffles.”) Leslie lives in the details (right next to god, telling him what to do), and her face falls when Grant tells her that this role is less paperwork and more big ideas. “Good, I hate paperwork. I hardly ever do it in my bed on a Saturday night listening to old Spice Girls CDs.”
Asking Peppy Spice to give up the grunt work is like telling Andy that he can never eat another turkey neck. It’s the BEST PART. Here’s a chance to test her powers of delegation, Ben encourages her. If she can let the slogan process – with Larry at the helm – move forward without interfering, she can certainly stand back and let a staff of actual professionals do their jobs. At the forum, the requisite town nutjobs put forward their ideas (“Pawnee, home of Crackers, the orangest goldfish in Indiana.”) before a nice, sensible girl we’ve never seen before stands up. It’s Fitzgerald Grant’s fake mistress, and she gets it. “When you’re here, than you’re home.” Leslie surely bursts something resisting the urge to march up there with a marker and fix her grammatical error, but she stays put.
Once the sign is finally installed and facing the wrong side of the highway, Leslie confesses her fears to Ben. She loves the hands-on work because that’s who she is, but she also loves it because she knows she can do it. We’ve all had that moment at the prospect of a promotion or a new job where excitement turns to terror. “What if I’m only as good as this?” And it happens. The legend of David Brent/Michael Scott is that of a great salesman who was promoted too far into being a horrific manager. But how can Leslie doubt herself when Ben so casually dismisses her hesitations?
“What if I’m not good at it?”
“Leslie, I love you very much. But that’s the stupidest thing you’ve ever said.”
Looks like Leslie’s about to do some rebranding of her own.
Meanwhile, Ron’s carefully protected alter-ego is again in danger of being exposed. While scouting bands for the Unity Concert, Andy happens upon a smokey club full of middle-aged women in heat and sex god Duke Silver welcoming them to a “warm bathtub full of my jazz.” It’s been a minute since our last Ron/Andy storyline, and this was one of the sweetest. Thinking Andy incapable of keeping the secret of him being “like, California Raisin’s saxophone player good”, Ron lays the Duke to rest. To prove his loyalty, Andy reads Ron a list of his deepest and darkest. (“I don’t know who Al Gore is, and at this point I’m too afraid to ask.” “I once threw beer at a swan, and then it attacked my niece Rebecca.”) Andy had almost given up music in the name of grown-up life, and he’s so, so happy that he didn’t. On this rare occasion, he’s one-up on Ron. “You don’t have to play the Unity Concert,” he tells him, “but don’t quit music, please.” The Duke survives to blow another day, and the Parks Department is still at the tiniest bit of risk of one day being “waist deep in womens’ undergarments.” There are worse things.
- April and Donna love Tom! They love Tom so much that they sabotage the venue search for Tom’s Bistro. But they can’t resist Aziz’s wounded puppy face any more than I could, so they confess and find him the perfect spot. I like to think that April’s knee-jerk reaction in particular speaks to how much she misses Ann. She’d never tell us if she did though.
- “You know I wouldn’t kick a skylight out of bed.”
- “Leslie, I told you, I’m not going to participate in your weird Julia Roberts/cameraman husband fantasy.” Mindy Lahiri has this one too, I’m certain. Maybe I do too, whatever, leave me alone.
- “What do you think about Juaaan Calamezzo?” I actually cried.
- “What’s up little mayor? You gonna freak out again?”
- “That’s a load-bearing T-Rex.”
- Ben’s hair was particularly ravishing in this episode. That’s all. Just wanted to point that out.
- Hoping for a deleted scene with more of Andy’s confessions.
- A framed photo of Ann has joined Leslie’s desk Hall of Fame.
Thoughts on “New Slogan” and/or the actual new slogan? Leave them in the comments. See you next week, Pawneeans. We’ll always leave a table open for you.