S3E11: One of the things that makes Parks and Recreation such a great show is that it knows exactly what it wants to be. There’s no dillydallying when it comes to characters, plots or relationships. In short: they don’t fuck around. And because the writers are so on point with what they want to accomplish, they’re able to deliver consistently funny episodes full of quotable lines, simple yet clever plots, and tender, often hopeful, moments. Basically, these writers know what they’re doing and, frankly, it’s just a really great time to be a fan of the show.
“This is nothing like your affair with Tom Haverford.” -Chris
The episode’s plot had a few things happening, but overall was pretty simple. Chris wants to set Ben up, because, well, Chris is Chris and he loves to “find people’s best qualities” and then “find others with compatible qualities.” So, he asks out a woman from another department named Cindy for Ben. Leslie questions it, considering Chris’ rule about interdepartmental dating, but Chris shrugs it off because Cindy’s work is in no way related to Ben’s. It bothers Leslie and she tries to shrug it off, but just can’t. And unfortunately, her frustration will only get worse. But if there’s anything we’ve come to learn about Leslie Knope is that if she’s presented with a problem, she’ll solve it.
“I also think it’s pointless for a human to paint scenes of nature when they could just go outside and stand in it.” -Ron
Unfortunately, her problems get worse before they get better. At the art opening that the Parks Department hosts (which Ron has no clue “why the government is involved”), despite “living for this kind of stuff,” she can’t bring herself to give a speech (but that works out for us as an audience because, well, then we get to listen to Ron Swanson talk about art, which has comedic gold written all over it). Then it happens. Leslie sees Jerry’s painting — a mythological allegory featuring a topless female centaur that kind of (“accidentally”) looks exactly like Leslie (and a fat cherub that looks just like Tom). Jerry subconsciously painted it and offers to take it down right away, but surprisingly, Leslie loves it. She suddenly becomes inspired by the painting and feels like she can take on anything — which is good, because immediately following the painting’s premiere, there are complaints that it’s distasteful and should be taken down by the same woman who complained about the same-sex penguin marriage last season.
“There’s a 30% chance they’ll both die.” -Ben
Meanwhile in the B-plot, Ben needs a place to stay since he now lives in Pawnee full-time and has been sleeping at the bed-bug infested “four stars from nobody!” hotel, so he moves in with Andy and April. Unsurprisingly, Andy and April live like total slobs and Ben, being the total nerdy-neat freak that he is, decides to take it upon himself to teach them how to be adults and do “adult things.” The response from April? “Gee golly mister, thanks!” Regardless, after spending his first night on the floor because of a lack of bed, he sends April and Andy to Bed, Bath, and Beyond to get some essentials (like bowls, utensils, etc.) because, um, the two of them ate their breakfast (turkey chili) out of frisbees. They end up at the store and after almost buying everything that they’ve ever seen on TV, Andy recommends that they do the responsible thing and buy “Ben’s stuff” as well (on top of the marshmallow shooter, of course). And frankly, it was fun getting to see Ben in this type of environment. He and Leslie are so similar, both constantly trying to repair their friends’ lives out of the goodness in their heart. Despite this episode only flirting with the “will they, won’t they” between Ben and Leslie a few times, Ben’s storyline with Andy and April showed us more of his character and more of why he and Leslie should end up together.
“Yeah, where’s your penis?” -April
Leslie fights to keep the painting from being burned by those who oppose it, but unfortunately, she loses. So what does she do? She grabs it, runs away and ducks into April and Andy’s house to find Ben. She explains the situation and their awkward exchange is cute. Ben tries to not look at the painting out of respect and embarrassment, and at the same time, at Leslie’s request, offers her advice on the situation: “It’s the government’s role to not offend anybody.” So Leslie comes up with a plan. She has Jerry paint a new masterpiece featuring Tom as the centaur (without a penis), tricking the critics into thinking that Jerry repainted the other one when in reality, Leslie kept the old one.
I won’t call Parks and Recreation a perfect show, nor was this a perfect episode, but honestly, I didn’t have any problems with it and I feel like picking at small, irrelevant issues isn’t very fruitful. Right now, it’s time for us to just sit back and enjoy Leslie Knope, her friends and Pawnee.