Parks & Rec 2-3: Mehhhh

Plot: Leslie judges a beauty pageant. Tom is unlikable. Ann and Mark *zzzz* sorry what? Leslie and Officer Sanderson dance around each other.

Deep Thoughts: I know the writers still hadn’t found their footing yet, and had been told to totally rethink the way this show worked after season 1. I know these things. But this episode is a reason people would have quit watching. It makes me want more of a backstory of how Leslie has ended up who and where she is, because at times she seems to have beamed down directly from a UFO after studying some How To Be Human tapes. It isn’t so much that she’s girding her loins to fight to change the way the Miss Pawnee pageant is run and what it means. It’s more like she doesn’t understand what beauty pageants are and how they’re usually judged, and she’s dislliusioned to find out the truth. I feel like someone who’s cast as a feminist and a fan of all the women Officer Sanderson has to study up on would know these things already.

Your Related Link For The Day: How to Talk to Your Boyfriend About Feminism. It’s hard, but somebody’s got to do it. And one huge part is trying to avoid the “How do you not know this?” reaction when he says something dumb. Or when he doesn’t know that Madeline Albright isn’t your grandmother, as Officer Sanderson assumes in Leslie’s office. But, greatly to his credit, by his next visit Officer Sanderson has learned who all of Leslie’s idols are, and a little bit about each of them. We can educate our less-aware friends and have fun doing it!

Ann is Mean: Andy interrupts Ann’s bizarre, stilted “second date” with Mark by existing and living in the pit. Which is weird and kind of stalkery and not that funny, sure. But when it starts raining, Mark has to pressure Ann to let Andy come inside and then she makes him sit in the corner.

Jerrybashing: Leslie has purchased $90 boquets of daffodils for each of her colleagues — except Jerry. No explanation is provided.

Somebody Get Tom Some Therapy: I can’t even with Tom in this episode. It’s to the writers’ credit that I end up loving Tom by the end of the series, because he actually is a complex, generally developing character and not just a two-dimensional asshole. It’s hard to see here, though, as he fulfills every stereotype of a frat boy judging a beauty contest.

April Is My Spirit Animal: “I may not have won [the beauty pageant], but at least I didn’t make any new friendships.”

The LOL moment: April’s impression of Leslie. “Parks, parks, parks, parks, parks, parks, Michelle Obama, parks. Gay penguins, parks, sugar, parks.”

I want to be more like Leslie: April’s impression delights Leslie. Few of us are very good at really looking at ourselves, but Leslie is almost completely free of self-doubt, and is therefore able to enjoy herself in caricature.

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7 Responses to Parks & Rec 2-3: Mehhhh

  1. Nosipho says:

    Sorry, I can’t get on board the Ann is mean train. Andy was a creepy stalker the first two seasons and I wouldn’t have wanted to let him in my home either.

    • Alden says:

      Two distinct issues! Andy is a stalker AND Ann is mean. But more annoyingly, she’s devoid of personality. Leslie deserves a best friend with dimensions and character and instead she has a straight (wo)man who brings nothing to the table.

  2. Colleen says:

    Upon re-watching, THIS episode was when I first really realized that Ann is mean. Like, I get it, you don’t want your slacker ex moving back in, but it is POURING rain and he lives in a tent in a pit. I am glad that Andy eventually gives up his creepy pit dwelling, because the “I will wear her down” schtick is a crap one.

    Tom is wholly unlikable here. I love him by the end of the show, but here he is still playing that weird role of icky frat boy.

    I feel badly for Jerry. He is so kind and sweet. I have also never understood why kind, caring, wonderful Leslie is always so awful to him too. (though I do love that eventually we see he has a family who really, deeply love him).

  3. Colleen says:

    If I may continue… I think Parks & Rec was still getting its wheels under it in this season. Really, I feel it reaches its tone once Ben & Chris show up. The characters get more well-rounded and likable. I also applaud that they didn’t do what so many shows do the longer they run, where the characters become caricatures of themselves (Friends, for example) AND they avoided too much on-again, off-again with Ben & Leslie and April & Andy (and created two strong couples who love and support each other).

    • Alden says:

      Agree on both points. As we were watching the show the first time through I watched through my fingers, waiting for the inevitable painful breakups of those two couples, and I was delighted that neither happened. Even the one that was kind of a weird impulse between two bizarre, impulsive characters turns into a solid, supportive, beautiful thing.

      • Colleen says:

        YES! I honestly feel like Andy and April are a pretty good example of unconditional love. Two people who really shouldn’t even like each other not only LOVE each other, but support and (in their quirky way) encourage each other to be better– and are successful in their quirky ventures.

  4. Naomi says:

    When I watched P&R, last year, it was on the recommendation of friends. Ed and I watched 1.1, and were utterly mystified that so many people had talked the show up. I posted to FB asking why ON EARTH anyone liked this show? “Oh,” about six of my friends immediately said, “just skip the entire first season. Go straight to season two.”

    Which rendered it watchable and we wound up really liking it.

    At some point after I’d hit season 4 one of my friends said, “wait, you were told to skip to season 2? I always tell people to skip to season 3.” And that is in fact when it hits its stride, in part because they put Mark on a bus and replaced him with Chris and Ben.

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