Perd breaks the news of the night: “Leslie Knope has been decisively removed from office.” Leslie thought it would be a close call. Nope. Just, she lost. The end. T-minus 30 days till unemployment. Wow.
I think this might have felt even more heartbreaking if we’d been watching an episode a week and building to this point in that slow and steady way of a typical TV season. (Thanks for that, NBC! Love you too.) Even with the scheduling ridiculousness, this got me. Parks might technically be a “low-stakes show” compared to the crazy sexy cool programs all over the TV-scape nowadays. But when character-crushing things happen on Parks, like when Leslie Knope loses her city council seat, I feel it. I feel it kind of a lot!
Yes, “nothing matters anymore” Leslie is hilarious and amazing and I am grateful for the time we had together, wearing Uggs and eating a Paunchburger and sleeping on a bench. Maybe this is partly because that losing a job feeling is something we all understand. And, of course, it’s Leslie. It’s our Leslie. We were with her on this journey and we wanted her to make it. It’s a nifty little trick that maybe the guys over at Marvel who keep cranking out the same movie with a slightly different spandex-clad superhero should try sometime: stakes built around character! An apocalypse does not an epic story make; it’s plot developments like this that actually have that end-of-the-world feeling, even though they’re just down-to-earth problems.
For this haunted house — because remember, Halloween comes halfway through November when NBC postpones your episode airdate — Leslie and Ben dress up like Princess Buttercup and Wesley from The Princess Bride. It is exactly as adorable as you would expect. Wait, I lied. It is more adorable.
Sad Leslie gives some real-talk to children, as sad people are wont to do: “The scary stuff is invisible. Broken dreams, disappointment, achieving your greatest goal, having it all fall apart, and knowing that you’ll never fly any higher.” She levels with these young'uns because someone must. “It’s very possible that some of you have already peaked. It’s all downhill from here.”
I think: That’s it. That’s as real as this episode is going to get. I could just turn off my TV and get some sleep and then—
“Just remember kids,” Leslie calls on her way out. “Nothing gold can stay.”
Fellow lovers of The Outsiders, rejoice!
It’s possible the other important takeaway here is that accepting that you’ve peaked is very freeing. And if anyone ever tells you that you have to keep climbing that hill, just look ‘em square in the eye and say, “Or do you?”
Also, I do not condone drunk tattoo getting. But let’s just say you do it anyway. I want you to be prepared to make good choices. So hypothetically speaking, if you decide to get a drunk tattoo, you should definitely go with Leslie’s plan: “I want a portrait of Eleanor Roosevelt, very classily done, and then SHE has a portrait of Pat Benatar on her arm — wait, no. Write ‘Ben.’”
Ann, that poetic and noble land mermaid, saves the day with perhaps the wisest words of the episode — “never send a husband to do a best friend’s job” — and reminds Leslie of who she really is: Someone who is resilient and bright and powerful, “an unstoppable force of energy,” who will use the 30 days she has left in office to work as hard as she can. Leslie is more than her job, everyone. Aren’t we all? Can we not all be unstoppable forces of energy? Is this really empowering to anyone else? Surrender all your dreams to me tonight, they’ll come true in the end!
A Deliciously Bold Chair
I don’t know how they could have planned this (see: above passive-aggressive raging at NBC), so I’ll just have to chalk it up to a remarkably serendipitous universe: This brilliant parody of Gwyneth Paltrow’s GOOP aired on the same day that the New York Times ran one of their most condescending "Style" pieces to date, a takedown of every would-be lifestyle guru’s website. (“'It’s about living a very one-of-a-kind, curated life and how to achieve that,' Ms. Lively said. The world awaits." Meee-yow, NYT.)
BLOOSH, for the uninitiated, is a weekly lifestyle e-mail written by Annabel Porter, former Eagleton phone book cover model. She’s legit, okay? She spent four months living in Kate Bosworth’s pool house. Remember that chair of Ron’s that won him “Achievement in Chair” way back when? Annabel loves Ron’s chair. Donna and Tom are fluent in lifestyle guru and attempt to prep Ron for his interview (Ron’s response: “I regret everything”). Tom is hoping Ron can put in a good word with Annabel, since Jean-Ralphio’s dad is going through with his takeover of Rent-a-Swag and Tom’s about to be out of business.
Donna watch loves and supports Donna’s thorough knowledge of the Annabel universe and her appraisal of everything at the party: “B-13 shots. Bird bath salts. A Champagne decanter.”
Here is a list of all of my favorite things that Annabel said:
“I’m not perfect. The average woman worries about what she looks like in a bathing suit. So does my nanny. So, I get it.”
“First of all, Mozambique cashmere is the new cast-iron stove. I have found some amazing new conflict-free paella recipes. And, finally, my favorite fishmonger makes house calls.”
“What I absolutely love about a Swanson is you can use it for anything. Make it a rustic accent piece in your solarium. Even better, use it as a focal point in your yoga tent.”
“We don’t do meals in my home. Every two hours in my home we eat a food tease. A seaweed lozenge.”
[To Joan’s “I love your hair.”]: “Thank you! It’s genetic and unattainable.”
What could turn out to be quite the financial windfall for Ron (who, as we know, is already exorbitantly wealthy and cannot be motivated by money) winds up as a bust when he refuses to allow “thousands of little Chinese hands” to make his signature furniture piece. Ron only makes two chairs a year. Interesting business model, Ron.
Annabel ends the party with perhaps the only way out better than an Irish Good-bye, announcing, “This party is over. It no longer is. It was.”
In the end, April and Chris have some cute moments (talk about them in the comments, I’m all out of room, sorry!) and Tom takes some of Ron’s advice and twists it Haverford-style by selling Rent-a-Swag and getting enough money to start his next business venture. Any guesses as to what’s next for the best abbreviator in Indiana? Send any and all predictions my way on Twitter @jessicagolds.
In the meantime, let me get a big ol’ mug of hot chocolate, put on my thinking PJs, and get back to you.