Parks and Recreation: Election Night
In many ways endings, be they season or series, are good things when it comes to television shows. They’re freeing in a way. Without the need for sustaining the status quo a show can take chances, change things up. Consequences are for after the summer, or left to the imagination of fans (or legions of mediocre sci-fi writers if it’s Star Trek). As I write this the future of Parks and Recreation is still uncertain and this, I think, gave the show the chance to both be bold with it’s character’s futures but true to themselves as well.
The end of the campaign also finally breaks the formula that has dominated most of the episodes since Leslie left the Parks Dept. Tonight, there’s nothing bumble then gracefully recover, there’s nothing left but the waiting. And while they wait Bobby Newport’s campaign manager offers Ben a job working on a congressional campaign out of Washington DC. At first, encouraged by Anne, Leslie tells Ben she doesn’t want him to take the job. Ben readily agrees saying he was on the fence anyway. Later, as she awaits the recount vote Leslie has a nice heart to heart with Ron, who explains to her that all her friends helped her not to win but because they cared about her. Sacrificing your time, your effort, yourself, that just something you do for people you care about. And so Leslie returns to Ben with a gift, a model of the Washington Monument. So for the next six months they’ll try to make it work long distance. I hope that if there is another season this doesn’t become a pointless Pam-goes-to-art-school story line.
The election is neck and neck throughout the episode and when they call it for Bobby Newport all Leslie can do is laugh and let out a gentle “Ah…fuck.” Leslie lost, but only by 21 votes which triggers and automatic recount. When Anne comes out and tells Leslie and Ben the recount is over and it’s still 21 votes, no one anywhere was surprised to hear her say that the 21 votes were now in Leslie’s favor. Bobby Newport has never been more relived. Chris congratulates Ron who will now be the assistant city manager, but Ron, having just rattled off a personal manifesto against change to Ben, declines the job, saying he likes where he is in the Parks Dept.
Meanwhile in the adventures of Wacky Andy and Actually Soft on the Inside April: April is panicked because she may have just deleted all the files on all the Parks Department computers, “you did right hiding under the table” Andy consoles. While they await help from Donna, Andy brain storms new jobs he and April can do if she gets fired and they have to live on the road. Donna arrives and restores the files in exactly one second having long ago made a secret personal backup to protect against inevitable accidental deletions by Jerry.
So going forward, should there be another season, things will be a little different in Pawnee but mostly the same. Leslie will still be the Parks Department with Ron and the gang, but she’ll also have city council responsibilities that will hopefully add a little juice to the show. Ben may be gone for a while. And what to make of plans made in drunken celebration? Will Anne and Tom really move in together? Will Andy try to become a part of Pawnee PD? Or maybe this will be our last Parks and Rec, if so I think it goes out on a nice note, the characters hopeful for the future, but also comfortable with where they are.
- “In a tie the man wins and the woman goes to jail. I don’t think it would hold up in court but it is city law.” The finer points of Pawnee Election Law.
- I would also be remiss if I didn’t say that Paul Rudd was delightful as Bobby Newport throughout his time on the show. Rudd is of course a natural at charming befuddlement so this role was right up his alley.
- Some items on Ron’s list about himself: “I’ve had the same haircut since 1978.” ” have one bowl.” “I still get my milk delivered by horse.”