Parks and Rec 2-13: GOB has the Vision

Okay, before we even get to anything, can we just take a minute about Chris Pratt and Anna Faris? I’m very sorry they’re going through whatever they’re going through. That said, can we start some sort of petition to get Chris Pratt to marry Aubrey Plaza? I would ship that so hard.

Plot: Leslie decides she’s ready to date again, and is interested in Ann’s backup guy. That guy Ann’s dating isn’t happy about this. Ron has to do actual work and isn’t happy about that. The writers apparently went on vacation and left other writers behind to handle Jerry’s character for a week.

Deep Thoughts: This episode is a little yucky in spots. That is, it has some of the flaws characteristic of this show at its weakest. Tom is about as gross as Tom gets, and the episode introduces us to Jean-Ralphio for the first time. Jean-Ralphio really does end up having his place in the series (unlike his utterly useless sister, but we’ll get to her), but… he’s still Jean-Ralphio. Even characters that are obviously meant to be annoying are still annoying. The episode also has some serious yuck in the gender-relations department, with Andy needing to point out to Ann that she’s sometimes kind of condescending and inappropriate, that guy Ann’s dating’s violating the privacy of their relationship, and the entirety of Leslie’s horrible date.

So it’s good to take a step back and look at the ways this episode is setting us up for at least one truly great relationship. April likes Andy’s music and helps him market it. Andy likes April’s hanging around the shoe-shine stand. April likes his encouragement enough that she gets a job so she can keep hanging around. Amidst the slimy interactions of the supposed grown-ups of the cast, April and Andy blithely march toward what feels good, without overthinking. And they are by far the better off.

Your Related Link For The Day: This episode really didn’t bring up anything outside-yet-related for me. But there was that excellent scene with Justin’s pea coat and Tom’s acknowledging how hot pea coats are. I wondered if I could find a history of the pea coat, so off I went to the Googles. And y’all, pea coats are in the news. Sort of. Last month. But it would appear that our Navy would like to axe them (nooo!), and our Congress is second-guessing the plan. WHO KNEW.

Ann is Mean: This episode focuses on Ann’s inappropriate “saving” of Justin, and I think we’re supposed to be clear that it is inappropriate, and that Ann’s apology and change of behavior at the end is the correct outcome. But I’m not sure Ann deserves too much punishment. We all have unfinished relationships and baggage and some of it is unexamined and we don’t even know it’s there. Her attempts to grapple with the complex question, and to have an open and frank conversation with that guy she’s dating about how she could both date him and still have a might-have-been relationship, flew right over that guy’s head. And then what did he do? He committed an actual, real-life and major relationship sin by going directly to her ex-boyfriend (with whom he isn’t even friends!) for venting and “advice.” Yeah, Ann is the problem here.

Jerrybashing: Jerry is absent from this episode, replaced by a guy who looks a lot like Jerry but behaves utterly unlike him in every way. The only way the perpetual Jerry-bashing in this show works is because Jerry doesn’t seem to notice it, appearing somewhere between bemused and jovial in response to anything that’s thrown his way. Jerry loves life and is sort of surprised everybody else doesn’t perpetually love their lives too. It’s completely reasonable that any colleague of April’s would find her promotion frustrating, but Jerry isn’t a completely reasonable normal person… he’s superhumanly cheerful. Whiny, petulant, jealous Jerry is not correct and needs to take a seat.

Somebody Get Tom Some Therapy: Tom’s whole subplot here is a little outlandish, which is frustrating because Tom’s actually a very pragmatic guy. Why he thinks he can co-opt Ron’s new assistant to be his own personal valet is never made clear, and obviously it doesn’t work. In the meantime, he manages to sexually harass both male and female candidates and generally look like a jerk, without any real service to his character as a whole. Not a good look, overall.

April Is My Patronus: More and more every episode. Can we please have a reboot/spinoff with just Ron, Leslie, Ben, April, and Andy solving crimes?

There Is Only One Ron Swanson: Ron’s friends know about his no-calling rule. SO DO MY FRIENDS! Ron gets it, guys. Phone calls are horrible and we should never, ever do them.

The LOL moment: Justin: “Check out the second paragraph; I drop the f-bomb.” Leslie: “Oooo, ‘frivolous.'”

And one giant high-five to the writers of the sixth season, because I’d completely forgotten about Leslie’s creepy MRI date and his assessment of her uterus: “You’ve got a great oven. You got ample room in there. Honestly, if you wanted to, you could go triplets right off the bat.” Yes!!

I am Leslie: Leslie’s ideal man has “the brains of George Clooney in the body of Joe Biden.” I wouldn’t say exactly that, but I love the priorities.

I want to be more like Leslie: I was struck by Leslie’s response when her slimy date assumes he’s about to get lucky: “Actually, Chris, it was nice to meet you, but I think this is going to be our last date.” It’s so simple and direct and clear and self-aware. We all need more lines like that in our heads, and then we need to use them when appropriate. Boundaries are okay, ladies!

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