Parks and Recreation
Everything about this episode, like Ben’s heart and butt, is in the right place.
We can definitely get you sorted.
Aziz Ansari’s latest stand-up tour is all about analyzing relationships: how men and women flirt and date; why we treat people the way we do; how to be intimate or romantic in a culture that has apps that let you swipe left or right to decide, based on a Facebook photo, whether or not you feel like texting someone. The fact that he has this insight to inform his portrayal of Tom is a huge part of why it’s so disappointing when Tom gets stuck trying to spark comedic chemistry with a computer, like last week. As if on cue, enter whip-smart Nadia (Orphan Black’s Tatiana Maslany), who is game from the get-go, not even missing a beat when April informs her: “We have a new policy. You can only reserve parks for witch covens or Slip and Slide competitions. Which one are you?”
Nadia works for Doctors Without Borders — “the old Ds without Bs!” — and is in town trying to reserve a park because “Pawnee is like a petri dish of weird diseases. Did you know you have more cases of West Nile than the actual Western Nile?” Meanwhile, Tom is trying to impress her by, for some reason, pretending to be British. It was fun to watch Tom seem grown-up in comparison to Mona Lisa “If you say no, I will start a fire in the bathroom” Sapperstein, but I’d argue that it’s even more enjoyable to see Tom have to actually grow up to charm a woman who isn’t impressed by multiple wardrobe changes, a fake (albeit cute) British accent, or D.J. Roomba.
April, whose crazy eyes are an episode highlight, informs Tom of his options: come clean, or talk like that for the rest of his life. He pretends to chalk the accent up to a cold; when Nadia feels his glands, she gets a handful of glittery moisturizer. (Does anyone else think he’s wearing Sparkle Skin? Twinkle, twinkle, big star!) Then Tom tries to hold Nadia hostage using the most powerful weapon he has: bureaucratic incompetence.
(Sidebar: I know it’s not possible that they planned it this way, but it sure feels like the Parks and Rec team intentionally scheduled this episode to air right after the government shutdown.)
Nadia gets through every obstacle Tom puts in her path (seriously, this girl is like a Blue Barracuda in a world full of Purple Parrots) and when she fills out her imaginary commercial airline name as “Jet Blue Ivy,” it’s clear she and Tom are so OTP. He and April visit Nadia at the hospital, where April reveals Tom’s crush. Nadia’s reaction: “I’m just trying to figure out if acting that insane is like romantic or totally scary.” Been there, girl. She and April proceed to engage in pre-date real talk:
Nadia: What’s his deal?
April: He’s sweet, he’s cool, and you’re way out of his league so there’s literally no risk for you at all here.
Nadia: I’m going to Rwanda in two weeks for my job, so, what the hell.
And ta-da! Tom owes April 1,000 favors, but he’s got a date with his dream girl. That is, he has one more episode with her before Maslaney’s guest stint ends. The course of true love, you know?
She’s too real for this ish.
Of course Donna Watch loves a good winking reference to Retta’s real-life, must-read Twitter. When Donna forgets to log out of the Parks account and accidentally tweets a come-on to a firefighter that involves a tongue bath and an eggplant, Chris is “both confused and, if we’re being totally honest, a little aroused.” Odds that Chris was more turned on by the eggplant than the tongue bath: 10:1.
Between the antics of Councilman Jamm — nothing personal, he’s just trying to stop Leslie because he doesn’t like her — and Councilman Dexhart, who is currently being sued for sexual harassment by two different women, I guess it’s not a surprise that Pawnee is in shambles and West Nile–y all the time. That said, it must be hard for the Parks writing department to come up with scenarios for their fake government that can rival how ridiculous the government is in real life. Case in point: The day this episode aired, Anthony Weiner announced that he totally could’ve been the mayor of New York “if the Internet didn’t exist,” because the Internet definitely has little hands that shoot out of the screen, pull down your pants, and force you to take photos of your junk and send dick pics to women you’ve never met. You have to be more ridiculous than that. That is the ridiculousness bar, people. Hats off to you, Parks. Pants on, though. Definitely pants on.
Leslie is ready to fight for Donna: “He is not going to sully your name!” (Not to be confused with Scullying your name, which is both confusing and, if I’m being totally honest, a little bit of a turn-on.) Chris, with maybe my favorite, most bizarre line of the night: “Guard your buds! They’re about to get nipped!”
Councilman Jamm is intent on turning the whole thing into a media circus. “Sadly due to your intracksigence, we may never find out what happened.” Yet it is here that we learn a few crucial life lessons. First of all, never skip your hairdresser’s Gatsby brunch. Secondly, we have all been reading Twitter incorrectly. As Ethel Beavers demonstrates, it’s actually pronounced “number sign stickers number sign bitch boss.” #oops. And lastly, there is a huge difference between being a #bitchboss and being a #bossbitch. Isn’t language fun? It’s like racquetball, for your mouth!
Leslie is wrecked when she finds out Donna has been tweeting about how annoying she is, because her “thing” is not being annoying. (“You should know that, Diablo!”) Look, you all know how much I love Donna. But I’m going to go ahead and call “only having a Twitter account to vent about work” (and hit on guys) an absolutely terrible idea. The Internet is public and permanent! It is exactly the wrong place to have a running diatribe against your boss/venting session about your annoying friend. That’s what Gchat is for.
Still, one of the things I adore about Parks is how it doesn’t gloss over the realities of friendship. Sometimes, friends are annoying, and you reach a point in your life at which asking your closest friends to stop behaving in a certain way is just not a reasonable request. I think a cheaper show might have Leslie undergo some kind of “I see, I should be different now!” revelation. Parks just has Leslie tell Donna the truth: “One person’s annoying is another person’s inspiring and heroic. I can’t promise that I won’t be inspiring and heroic in the future.” Never change, Leslie. Never change.
Check that accounting crap at the door.
We’ve long known that Ron is an extraordinarily wealthy gent, an industrious yet frugal man whose life savings amounts to — well, he isn’t really saying, exactly, nor will he reveal where it’s buried. Surely he’s carrying around the lottery ticket with the coordinates, waiting for the right moment to share its location?
Ben finds out that Ron has had the same will since he was 8 years old, which of course he always has on his person. “Upon my death all of my belongings shall transfer to the man or animal that has killed me.” Ben: “What are these weird symbols?” Ron: “The man who kills me shall know.” Ron resists Ben’s advice that he needs to go to a lawyer and get a real, notarized will. But I for one am grateful that Ron comes around, if only to get some accountants versus lawyers smack talk. Obviously, accountants are a little more bad boy. Then again, this lawyer apparently has zero tolerance for puns. He doesn’t even like Good WILL Hunting. Umm, who is this horrible person?
Ron’s big plan for the kids is as follows: “I will leave my children $50 apiece for the cab home from my funeral and a steak dinner.” I find it hard to believe that the fact that his children are now real, flesh-and-blood baby Xenas and not just hypothetical spawn with one of his exes wouldn’t have changed Ron’s mind about providing a safety net, but whatever, this whole bit is funny and for all I know, the symbols explain all that the episode did not.
I’m going to go put some question mark stickers on stop signs, but you can find me on Twitter @jessicagolds. Just don’t make any jokes. Another word for jokes is lies. I do not lie, therefore, I do not joke.