‘Parks and Recreation’ Recap: Born & Raised


ALTS4E3: Last week on “Ron & Tammys,” the king of bacon and firearms, Ron Swanson, survived an attack from his ex-wive Tammy 1. Thanks to the deadly drinking skills of his mother Tammy 0 and the weak stomach of Leslie, he survived. Now, our favorite chipper, blonde Parks Department employee is back up and running, kicking off a Pawnee promotional tour for her new book—in the crazed way you’d expect from a half hour of Parks and Recreation.

“She’s not going to getch me!” – Leslie

Everything’s going smoothly for Leslie, who’s making the rounds to talk up Pawnee: The Greatest Town In America (which you can actually read). Of course, not all stops on the tour can be as enjoyable as Norwegian lesbian folk band-playing public radio stations, but Leslie knows an appearance on the venomous Joan Callamezzo Show is a must. The hilarious Mo Collins returns to Parks and Recreation as her Oprah-wannabe character, ready to grill Leslie on her book’s shameful, factual error: Leslie wasn’t born in Pawnee.

The revelation sends the town into a tizzy and Leslie’s electoral team into damage control. Convinced Callamezzo’s practice of “Gotcha!” journalism is a barrage of lies, Leslie sets out to dig up her long form birth certificate to convince the angry mob of Pawnee voters that she’s the real deal. This may be one of the few instances where Parks riffs directly on real life politics, but it works like wonders because of its adorably small scale.

Whereas this season’s premiere was cast heavy and last episode was all about Ron, “Born & Raised” is all about Amy Poehler. This isn’t the strongest episode in terms of jokes per minute, but Poehler certainly proves here why Leslie Knope is such a strong character. She can withstand the people’s hateful cries (“Go back to where you came from!” “I am back where I came from!” “That sentence is confusing!”) and she’ll go to extremes to get answers (having to navigate the hoity toity Eagleton to obtain her certificate), but no matter what, Leslie stands strong. Always fun to watch.

“I’ll have another drink and so will this adorable hunk of caramel next me.” – Joan Callamezzo

While Leslie hunts down answers with the help of Chris and Andy a.k.a. Bert Macklin, FBI, Tom and Ben attempt to woo Joan into giving the book her seal of approval. With the “Joan Callamezzo Book Club” sticker, Leslie can redeem herself to the public and stand a chance at political survival.

Tom and Joan’s past encounters have always been of the flirtatious kind, but a few drinks in to the duo’s diabolical plan and Tom realizes he’s way over his head. When she’s drunk, Joan can get a little foul and after few martinis, a minute long bleeped sexual come-on and a sloppy rendition of “Let’s Hear It for the Boys,” the talk show host blacks out. Tom and Ben go into their own panic mode.

But they’re considerate gents, and the two take Joan back to her dazzling mansion, complete with paintings of her in the nude. Not even mumbling to himself about Star Trek sequels could help Ben unsee the horrific works of art.

“Who’s your favorite character on Sex and the City?” – Ann

“Alf” – April

Back at the Parks & Rec office, April, Ron and Ann work steadily to uncover any other misrepresented facts in Leslie’s book. This is all an opportunity for Ann to finally conquer something she’s been striving for for three seasons: making small talk with the impenetrable Ron and April.

Parks‘ biggest challenge week to week is finding something for Rashida Jones to do and this small arc, that plays out in a series of short scenes and montages, is exactly the kind of scenario that uses her strengths. The whole point is that Ann really has always been on the periphery and every attempt she makes to chat it up with her co-workers fails. “I will get my one minute of small talk, dammit! It will be casual!” Easier said then done.

Eventually Ann finds her in. Returning from a late shift at the hospital, the nurse/goverment volunteer recounts to Ron and April her night dealing with a gruesome accident, complete with blood, vomit and a missing toe. They eat it up. Ron gives Ann a nod of acceptance…before calling her Jenny “(I like to call people by the wrong name to let them know they’re being too chummy”).

“I’m a liar. I’m worse than a liar. I’m an…Eagletonian” – Leslie

The worst news Leslie could imagine: she wasn’t born in Pawnee, but Eagleton. Snob city.

When the truth is revealed, Leslie downward sprials into the abyss of ignominy. Not even Bert Macklin could save Leslie—Callamezzo and the “Gotcha!” Dancers were right after all. But much like his kind words to Ann in last week’s episode, Chris comes to Leslie’s aid with an adage of wisdom. “Where you’re born is a piece of trivia, but where you’re from is what matters.” Cliche? Sure. Authentic and charming as hell? Absolutely.

Leslie returns to Jane’s show to rectify her mistake and announce to the hungover hostess and the town of Pawnee that she wrote the book because she loves her home, and that’s what matters. The small Indiana town lets out a collective sigh (except for the guy Leslie reveals peed his pants in second grade) and once again, things are back to normal. Until next week.