Jamie Harsip Staff Writer
I may sound a little subjective here, but I firmly believe that your life would be better if you watched “Parks and Recreation.” I’m honestly not even exaggerating here; I think a person’s quality of life literally improves once they discover the joys of this show. It hasn’t got the biggest or loudest or hardest-shipping fandom, but you know what it has? The happiest. “Parks and Recreations” hase the most consistently content fandom that has ever existed (probably – I don’t have the money to do a scientific study on it, or I totally would). And yet, it’s never a boring show to watch.
“Parks and Recreation” chronicles the day-in and day-out goings-on of a quirky and mismatched group of local government workers in Pawnee, Indiana. The show’s lead character is the aspiring politician Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler), who is currently acting as second-in-command of the parks and recreation department. Her boss is Ron Swanson, an ironically anti-government libertarian whose main goal is to make sure the government achieves nothing under his command. The people these two work with range from an unenthusiastic 20-year-old intern (April Ludgate, played by Aubrey Plaza) to an aspiring (but completely misguided) pop-culture obsessed entrepreneur (Tom Haverford, played by Aziz Ansari). Does it sound weird and kind of pointless so far? It’s not, I promise. Somehow it all works to create the most fun, happiest, most entertaining comedy on TV. In fact, I’m almost a hundred percent sure that the only times characters have cried in all four and two thirds seasons, they’ve been tears of joy. What other show on television can boast that?
Honestly, if you’re not watching “Parks and Recreation”, you are missing out, big-time! Lucky for you Netflix members out there, the entire first four seasons are available to stream!
Okay: spoiler alert for this next bit, because I’m going to give you a short and sweet explanation of what you’ve missed in season five so far. After that, I will get to my recap of tonight’s episode. Sound good?
The season begins with Leslie and Andy visiting DC on a business trip…and also to see April and Ben. It’s cute, it’s fun, and it’s an adorable display of Leslie’s fangirl-like adoration for federal government (I mean, hello, her celebrity sex list consists solely of Joe Biden. That’s it – that’s the whole list). Later on, back in Pawnee, Leslie gets in trouble for her initiative to teach safe sex…particularly to senior citizens! In the office, Ron tries to aid Tom in his efforts to overcome his addiction to social media and technology. Later in the season, Leslie and Ben’s relationship is on hold when Ben gets a huge job offer…or so you would expect. In a surprise twist, the episode ends with a surprise proposal from Ben! In the next episode Ben’s divorced parents ruin his and Leslie’s engagement party, despite Leslie’s best (and incredibly manic) efforts to calm the tension. Tammy, one of Ron’s ex wives (both named Tammy, by the way), shows up at an awards ceremony where Ron is being honored for a chair he built, trying to sabotage Ron’s new relationship. The next episode focuses on Ben’s and Leslie’s bachelor and bachelorette parties (respectively) and Chris makes sure Ben’s s a party no one could forget. More recently in the season Ann has decided that she wants to have a baby, and is on the hunt for the perfect sperm donor. In the aww-worthy Valentine’s Day episode Ben and Leslie decide that they want to get married right then and there, at the gala the government is throwing. The following episode chronicles the mad dash to get Leslie and Ben to the chapel, so to speak. In the most recent development, Anne has decided that she wants Chris to be her sperm donor…much to his shock.
The long-awaited appearance of Jenny Slate has finally happened in this week’s episode entitled “Bailout”. She’s playing Mona Lisa Saperstein – yup, Jean Ralphio’s twin sister. Not only that but Jason Schwartzman makes an appearance as the owner of Pawnee’s one and only independent movie rental place.
So Mona Lisa shows up because Jean Ralphio got her a job at Rent-A-Swag, working for Tom. It’s odd, because, in his own words, she’s “the wo-o-o-o-orst” (you have to sing that to get the full effect, though). Meanwhile, Chris is still in the process of making his “dad-cision” – whether or not he’s going to agree to being Ann’s sperm donor. To make his decision easier, Ben suggests he treat Tom as his surrogate child, a la that thing you did in high school where you have an egg that you’re supposed to care for (apparently Ben’s high school used bags of flour, though…huh). Tom is obviously having some trouble dealing with Mona Lisa, so Chris decides it’s the perfect opportunity to try out his parental-advice giving skills. Thus we embark on Chris Traeger’s journey into surrogate parenthood, and it’s exactly as hilarious as it sounds.
Back in the parks department Leslie is attempting to save the Pawnee VideoDome from closing. She has the brilliant idea to dub it a historic location and suggests that the shop’s owner use the government loan to acquire movies that people actually want to rent. How novel, right? Ron refuses to allow this bailout, saying that he will not let the town of Pawnee become a “socialist hellscape”. So when the town agrees to give the Pawnee VideoDome, Ron is overjoyed to see that the owner decided to take Leslie’s advice…by turning it into a porn store! Seriously, he giggles. Ron Swanson giggles.
All the while Ann is bribing April into being her best friend for a week. The most intriguing part? It actually works. April wants to apply to veterinary school and asks Ann, as a janitor – er – nurse to write a recommendation for her. Obviously Ann takes full advantage of having the upper hand, here. The two get their nails done (April’s saying “ANN SUCKS” on them – how cute!) and hang out all week, but it isn’t until Ann makes her own confession to April that the two seem to click. It all crescendos into a quasi-spontaneous acapella duet of “Time After Time” (featuring a special guest appearance from Donna).
All in all, “Bailout” was pretty par for the course as an episode of “Parks and Recreation”. And by “par for the course” I mean 100% entertaining 100% of the time and leaves you with a massive smile on your face and a warm fuzzy feeling inside. And isn’t that what you want from your Thursday night prime time comedies?