Meet the characters: Mark, Tom, Leslie, Ann, Ron, April, and Andy.
“Parks and Recreation” had such a short season last year that I only caught the finale. But it’s back in the mix this year, partly because Roomie loves it, so it was on the DVR. I gotta say, I dig the opening title sequence. Great work!
Leslie (Amy Poehler) has been doing zoo promotions, and performs a wedding ceremony for two penguins. After the fact she finds out that the penguins are both male.
(Remember the famous gay penguins in San Francisco who adopted a baby and later broke up over a female penguin? Penguins: Just like celebrities!)
Everyone thinks that Leslie was making a bold political gesture, and she’s suddenly the darling of the gay community of Pawnee. A gay bar called “The Bulge” sends her a cake… and T-shirts.
Leslie: The Bulge is a gay bar? Ugh, the nights I’ve wasted there.
Oh yeah, and Aubrey Plaza is on this show. When I saw her in FUNNY PEOPLE, I didn’t think I’d ever seen her before. But… here she is. And Wikipedia tells me that she is… “April, an apathetic college intern whom Leslie hopes to inspire.”
April basically seems like the real-life version of Violet from THE INCREDIBLES. But she’s not the confident Violet at the end of the movie. She’s the moody, hair-in-her-eyes, hate-my-parents Violet.
But not today. Turns out that April is inspired by Leslie’s unintentionally political act, and brings her boyfriend (and another guy) to the office to meet Leslie.
April: This is my boyfriend, Derek. The is Derek’s boyfriend, Ben.
Leslie: Hey. Oh. Wait, sorry, what’s this situation?
April: What do you mean?
Leslie: How does this work?
April: Derek is gay but he’s straight for me but he’s gay for Ben and Ben’s really gay for Derek. And I hate Ben.
Derek: It’s not that complicated.
Leslie: Oh. Yeah. Sure.
Leslie (interview): The thing about youth culture is I don’t understand it.
Also great? Leslie has a picture of Hillary Clinton hanging in her office. I’m thinking that’s definitely a wink at the fact that Amy Poehler has very famously portrayed Hillary on “Saturday Night Live.”
Leslie finds out that The Bulge is throwing a party in her honor, and embraces her “fabulous”-ness.
But OH NO, Marsha from the Society for Family Stability Foundation (SFSF) is really mad about the gay penguin wedding. She says that if Leslie doesn’t annul the marriage, she will publicly call for Leslie’s resignation.
Over a fake penguin marriage.
Okay, this is where not watching last season gets a little confusing for me. Nurse Ann (Rashida Jones) informs us that she has ditched her annoying boyfriend (Andy) and he went to Kansas to “climb mountains.” Now she’s flirting with Mark Brendanawicz (Paul Schneider, cutie at large), who fell in a big pit (last season was all about that pit, I think) at the end of last season after kissing Leslie?
So Mark was in the hospital for a week, and now he’s flirting with Ann, not Leslie. Because… he says he was really desperate when he kissed Leslie. But Ann doesn’t want to date Mark, although she think he’s gotten nicer since he hit his head. She tells Leslie that Mark asked her out, but she won’t go out with Mark because she is Leslie’s friend. Ann and Leslie hug, and Leslie seems sad. Aw. She’s lonely.
Whew. I think that’s right. Correct me if I’m wrong.
The overarching theme of this series seems to be that Leslie is lonely and love-lorn. She’s so sweet and so… alone.
I have to give a shout-out to Roomie’s favorite line of the week:
Leslie: Hey, Brendanawicz, you big sandwich eater!
Oh yeah, Aziz Ansari is on this show. He’s great. I follow his Twitter. Good guy. He plays… Tom Haverford? Oh, thanks again, Wikipedia: He “changed his name from Aziz Abdul Al’Rahman to be more appealing in politics.” And… “Although he is married to an attractive surgeon, he still hits on women.”
When Tom/Aziz reads Leslie’s card from The Bulge, he notes that they called her “grrrrrrrrl,” with “eight Rs.” In FUNNY PEOPLE he played a comedian named Raaaaaaaandy! With eight As. Another wink? I think so.
Okay, so Leslie and Tom enter the party at The Bulge.
Leslie: I can’t believe this is a gay bar.
Tom: Yeah, especially with that heterosexual cowboy greeting us on the way in. [A very gay picture of a shirtless cowboy.]
Leslie: Where should I drink now?
Tom: There’s a bar on 8th Street called “Pitchers and Catchers,” you can go there.
Leslie wants to tell the Boys of the Bulge that her “position is [she has] no position.” She is going to “regretfully decline” their invitation to honor her. But then the gays tell Leslie that she’s their hero, and she gets swept up in the party.
April brings Leslie up onto the stage and says, “She’s Leslie Knope, and she wants to recruit you.” (If you don’t know that she’s riffing on Harvey Milk…. go rent MILK, like, immediately.)
Also, how funny is it that her last name is essentially “Nope”? Poor woman. She tries so hard, but… nope. Speaking of that, April and her boys created a poster in the style of the Obama HOPE poster, except that it has Leslie’s face and says, “KNOPE.” But when Leslie is up on stage, at times the camera cuts off the poster so that it just says, “NOPE.”
Leslie tries to explain that she wasn’t trying to take a stand, but the gays are chanting her name and don’t really care. So she says, “I just have one thing to say. Together we can change Pawnee forever. Let’s dance!” And then “Boom Boom Boom” comes on, and they dance. And Leslie gets drunk.
Leslie: You know why tonight’s fun? Because everyone’s so gay. And they know how to have fun, and… the dancing! Just… it’s everyone is just who they are. And who they are is just stone-cold gay.
And then Leslie is wearing rabbit ears and singing along with “Poker Face,” into a microphone. “Blah blah blah blah!”
Leslie: There’s two bisexual guys here and I got both their phone numbers!
The next day, Leslie is still singing “Poker Face” while she sits at her computer, in the office that she shares with Tom. She had three drinks named after her at The Bulge. She’s practically the next Liza Minnelli.
Leslie: Plus Ben and Derek are taking me shopping on Saturday, and we are gonna find out my actual bra size! I guess I’m kinda like queen of the gays.
It’s so important to wear a bra that fits just right, ladies. I am forever getting resized. If you’re going to spend $50 on a bra, you’d best be sure.
Oh, the guy I haven’t mentioned yet is Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman), Leslie’s boss (I guess). He tells Leslie that she has to go on TV (“Pawnee Today”) and defend herself, because anti-gay marriage Marsha “from the family thing” has called for Leslie’s resignation. NOOO!
Leslie: Why? I haven’t even officially taken a stand on gay marriage.
Ron: That’s funny. Somebody just told me you were queen of the gays.
Tom is a regular guest on Pawnee Today, and we see clips of him flirting relentlessly with the host, Joan Callamezzo.
Oh, guess who’s back? It’s Ann’s douche-ex Andy, in a suit. (Also, Ann and Andy? As in, Raggedy?) Ann asks Andy, “How was mountain climbing?” He shakes his head and says “Oh…” and looks off into the distance as if it was great, but then says, “WHAT?” Haha. What was he doing?
On Pawnee Today, Joan is obviously on Marsha’s side. Bitch! Marsha wants Leslie to annul the marriage, reimburse taxpayers for the cost of the wedding (what, twenty dollars?), and resign.
Leslie: Oh, is that it? Anything else? Want me to jump off a building, perform harakiri [sounds like "Harry Carey]…?
Marsha: Move to a different town? No, I kid.
By the way, Pawnee is in Indiana.
Leslie says that she busts her ass for the people of Pawnee, and she can’t win. Poor Leslie. Seriously, she can’t win in any category of her life. Earlier when Marsha came to her office and asked if she was married, Leslie gave the saddest and awkwardest answer about how she hopes to get married soon, but isn’t dating, and is focusing on her career. But “focusing on my career” is more or less code for: lonely and can’t find a date.
All of the call-in viewers think that Leslie should resign.
Back at Ann’s place, she comments on Andy’s fancy looks, and he says that the suit was three thousand dollars. Yeah right. He “sold out” and got a boring office job in town. But he’s really happy, and feels like he’s matured (he pronounces it like the British do: “matoored”) a lot. (Luckily, Ann calls him on that.) Andy apologizes for being a terrible boyfriend, and really thinks it would “behoove” them to give it another shot.
Ann: I’m really happy for you about your new job, and that you’re learned some new words, but I’m sure about my decision.
Andy leaves, takes off his jacket, and goes into the pit behind Ann’s house (I think), where he’s living in a tent. “The hardest thing about living in this pit is keeping my suit pressed,” he interviews. So… I guess he really does have a job? “And the rats. It’s like a freaking rat parade every night.”
PS Last season Andy broke both legs when he fell into the pit, so it’s kind of funny that he lives there now.
Andy says that he’s living close to Ann because he wants to protect her from the “weird people” who live around there. Right. Like… him.
Leslie doesn’t want to annul the penguin wedding, because it was cute. She apologizes for having fun, and for making something cute. But she will not annul! She goes and visits the penguins, and she is sad that she doesn’t have a mate. Then she goes to Ann’s and tells her that she ought to go on that date with Mark. Because… we’re all just animals!
Leslie: He might not be my gay penguin but he could be yours. [...] Don’t not do it because of me, because I’m really fine with it. [...] Plus I already called him and said that you were dying to go out with him, so have fun!
Leslie transfers the penguins to a zoo in Iowa, where gay marriage is legal… and she drives them there in child seats in the back of her car. (Don’t worry, she mists them.)
Leslie: Oh look, Six Flags! I should take them on a water slide. They might die… but it would be so cute!
And that was “Parks and Recreation.” I had a good time. (And you should watch it, because so much of the funny is in the delivery.)
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