Parks and Recreation
Season 5, Episode 4: Sex Education
Posted by Sage
Oh, Tommy Edamame. I felt for you in this one. We all did.
In this week’s episode, Tom Haverford had an unfortunate brush with the law. It turns out that live-tweeting your drive isn’t the safest way to get from point A to point B, and Big T gets into an accident. For the last two nights, I’ve been having nightmares about the punishment handed down to him by the judge, that crafty bastard.
One week tech blackout.
Be real: you and me would tumble down the same spiral of panic and despair when faced with that prospect. Tom deals with his grief in some creative, though perhaps not so effective ways. A paper iPhone won’t respond to a thumb swipe, and spying on Jerry’s internet use is just depressing. (“Oh my god, Jerry, when you check your email you go to AltaVista and type, ‘Please go to yahoo.com’?!”) Who better to help a tech-addict through withdrawl than consummate outdoorsman and old-school manly man, Ron? He whisks Tom away to his cabin in the woods for some good ol’ fashioned wood chopping and sage advice. All seems to be going well, but Ron doesn’t realize that Tom’s seemingly sincere acknowledgement of his problem is just a speech he memorized from Intervention. The other shoe drops when Tom borrows Ron’s car under false steak pretenses and crashes again. While tweeting. On a burner phone. Like he’s Marlo friggin’ Stanfield.
Then Parks serves some realness. Ron is determined to get to the bottom of Tom’s addiction and asks him why he constantly needs distraction. Tom’s answer? “The truth is – I spend a lot of time looking at screens because recently, a lot of stuff in my real life isn’t going so great.” Welcome to the internet, headquarters of, well, that. Ron decides not to turn Tom in to the judge and prolong his sentence, but does give him some Papa Bear advice: engage with people, and don’t use technology as a crutch. Message received loud and clear, LeRon James.
Meanwhile, Leslie and her team of Sex Avengers are out to tackle an STD epidemic in Pawnee’s senior centers. (“Good news! Lots of old people have chlamydia.” “Woo!”) The solution to this sexy problem is clear and simple: hold sex education seminars that encourage residents to use condoms and prevent the spread of disease. But where there is a clear and simple solution to a social problem, idiots will rear their ugly heads. Leslie’s first seminar is interrupted by said idiots, family values advocate Marsha Langman and her flamboyant husband Marshall, who has his own reasons for discouraging rampant heterosexual intercourse. Turns out, Pawnee has an Abstinence Only sex ed law, without an age limit. The Langmans take over the next session, entitled “It’s Great to Wait!”, to encourage a rec room full of 80 year olds to wait until marriage to get down to business. It’s delightfully ludicrous.
Leslie tries to play by the rules, but loses patience while reading from the “So You Think You Know More Than God?” pamphlet. (“The devil likes to hide in all your private nooks and crannies.”) She drops the pamphlet, picks up a banana, and expertly rolls on a condom. Lucky Ben Wyatt. The Langmans are horrified. She receives a censure from the mayor (on thick paper!) and learns that the majority of Pawneeans don’t support sex ed. Our friend Perd Hapley has her own his show, presumably to apologize for her misstep. But Leslie, that beautiful rule-breaking moth, takes a stand. Yes, we live in a democracy. Yes, our elected officials represent the will of the people. But if the people are uneducated and misinformed, that process breaks down. (“So we’re just gonna do the thing we know doesn’t work? Great plan!”) Leslie vows to continue her crusade and to work to change the minds of her not-insignificant opposition. I stand up and slow clap in my bedroom.
Parks and Recreation
Season 5, Episode 3: How A Bill Becomes a Law
Posted by Sage
Welp, this episode was about as uneven as Leslie’s perm. But even Parks at its most inconsistent is better than any other network TV comedy nonsense, and with 1000x more heart. And “How a Bill Becomes a Law” did deliver some quality moments and key character developments for a few of Pawnee’s finest.
This week was all about how government does or doesn’t work. Poor, sweet, idealistic Leslie runs up against corruption in the form of part-time dentist and full-time bathroom snob Councilman Jamm, who bribes her in exchange for his vote in favor of the Leslie Knope “Fun in the Sun Act.” Meanwhile, Libertarian Ron, who will tell anyone who will listen that government doesn’t work, exemplifies it at its best. He doesn’t even know that Diane (played by LUCY “Xena” LAWLESS) is a hot, single mom until he shows up at her house to fill her pothole (not a euphemism). All he knows is that she’s got a problem, the right department isn’t responding, and he knows how to fix it. If you’ve ever been at the mercy of someone in administration who refuses to step one foot out of his or her job description to help you, you know why Diane was instantly hot for him. Andy’s spray-painted “Ron likes you” note helped too.
Speaking of Andy, how perfect is it that he has an instant rapport with kids? He’s nothing if not a big kid himself, but I would have sooner imagined him roughhousing with boys than having a tea party with sparkle princesses. We’ll probably see Andy and April with child sometime in the future, and suddenly that thought isn’t quite so terrifying.
And guys? I know we’re all having confusing feelings about this Ben and April business. Don’t panic. They’re both hot; they’re alone in DC; they have great chemistry. It’s perfectly natural. The fact that we’re all feeling this way is proof that giving these characters time together was the right decision. Ben is encouraging April to be more invested in her life and maybe take one or two things somewhat seriously. April is encouraging Ben to fuck with people. It’s a great give and take. But this ain’t Gossip Girl. Everyone’s going home with the person they came with. Even I don’t think that reading someone your Star Trek fan fiction is a step on the road to seduction. Let’s just settle for them being new and unlikely BFFs.
Random thoughts/B Stories:
Parks and Recreation
Season 5, Episode 2: Soda Tax
– Posted by Sage
Taking last week’s premiere and this week’s episode into consideration, it’s pretty obvious that the theme of this season of Parks will be Leslie adjusting to being the small fish in a bigger Pawnee pond. Now, this is a HUGE hurdle for her to overcome, and not because of her ego. It just seems that the more powerful you are, the more obstacles stand in the way of you getting shit done. There’s an Obama joke in here somewhere, but I’m just a pop culture blogger.
Even Leslie Knope’s enthusiasm and determination have their limits. When she crashes, she crashes hard; and that’s the time that her friends rally around her, individually or as a mighty Parks Department. Last week, it was up to Andy (who’s been wearing a bandanna as underwear for three days) to remind Leslie that her awesomeness still stands, even in the face of crippling bureaucracy.
This week, Leslie turned to reluctant mentor and hater of feelings and emotions, Ron. Her proposed giant soda tax resulted in a town divided down the middle and a threat of layoffs from the miraculously bitch-named Kathryn Pinewood. Should Leslie bend to the pressure and protect herself or vote her conscience? Ron laid out some Swanson-brand tough love by showing Leslie her personnel file. Turns out, he started the process to have her fired no less than 4 times. Her bubbliness being the main reason in most cases. The Ron moral of the story: not everyone is going to like you right away. Not everyone is going to like you at all. But if you have your handy adventurer’s compass, you won’t let that stray you from your path.