Parks and Recreation: Ms Knope Goes to Washington

Parks and Rec is back. When we last left Leslie and gang, Leslie had just been elected to the city council and Ben had accepted a position with a congressional campaign.  Tonight’s premier finds Leslie and Andy in Washington visiting Ben and April, who went to work for Ben in Washington.  At first glace the collision of Leslie Knope and Washington DC seems sure to delight, the title even evokes the uplifting Jimmie Stewart movie.  But of course this is Washington where, in reality, civic optimism goes to die.

Jimmie Stewart’s filibuster worked, Leslie can’t even filibuster a bureaucrat’s secretary.  In addition to visiting Ben, Pawnee’s newest city council woman had a meeting scheduled with an official at the Department of Interior to give her proposal for a grant to clean up the Pawnee River.    Instead she is directed to set a bins over flowing with proposals by a stonewalling secretary.    It’s genuinely a little sad to see the whole encounter wipe all the bright enthusiasm off of Leslie’s face.  In the end she is reduced to muttering “Indiana” when asked which of ten Midwestern Pawnees she hailed from.

After the failure at the Interior, Leslie meets up with Ben, Andy, and April to go to a swanky Washington Party.  There, a series of power bitches condescend to Leslie ,who cannot help but feel threatened by all the beautiful, government minded women who are currently surrounding Ben.  Ben, ever the good boyfriend, introduces Leslie to Barbra Boxer and Olympia Snow (number’s 4 and 26 on Leslie’s List of Amazing Women) but all she can do is mumble about how insignificant she must be and run off.  One of the nice things about Parks and Rec though is that Leslie acts like a real person, she can tell she’s being silly even as it’s happening.  She doesn’t act out or sabotage Ben, she just needs a little time to collect herself  (so leave her alone, John McCain!) By the time she’s back home, she gets some encouraging words from Andy, (as well as numerous failures to use the word “amalgam”) and she’s back to skyping with Ben and working to clean up the river herself.

I’m trying to find the thread that connects Leslie’s story to The Ron Swanson-est barbecue ever.  Maybe the thread is disappointment.  Ron is disappointed that it’s both illegal and a health code violation (thus superseding his “I can do want I want” letter) to slaughter Tom the pig at the barbecue.  After a sulky trip to the Food and Stuff, he’s disappointed again that everyone is whining and hungry.  Anne and Tom are disappointed that Chris’ “candy” is simply raisins.   Then Chris is disappointed in Ron for failing to realize it was supposed to be an Employee Appreciation Picnic and angrily driving away from barbecue when everyone’s demands get on his nerves.

This whole story wraps up a little too cutely for me.  I like that everyone almost immediately overcomes their horror at eating Tom the Pig at Ron’s conciliatory barbecue (complete with corn).  But all this was just another example of Ron’s strict adherence to his ideals ruining everyone else’s time.  He then get’s called on it and does something nice to make up for it.   It’s a great opportunity for more Ron Swanson one liners, but the whole thing felt a little familiar.

  • Andy’s tour of Washington was delightful.  Describing the Capitol Building as a boob (and also the White House) and the Washington Monument as a wiener.  He  looks for National Treasure style clues at the Lincoln Memorial.  When he does find the White House, he explains that the Oval Office is named after Oval Reddenbacher, who hung out with John F Kennedy.
  • It seems like Haverkins is finally dead.  The two of them pretend to still be together to win a bet  with Donna in tonight’s C-plot.
  • I can not explain what it is, but something about Rob Loew’s insane enthusiasm as Chris Trager never fails to delight me.
  • Also delighful, Donna’s joy that the pigs “given Christian name” is Tom.


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