Over the past couple of weeks, Parks and Recreation has been showing us the “other side” of Leslie Knope, and by her “other side,” I mean her pushy, selfish, and hyperactive side. While it is certainly important to portray this side of Leslie (she is a layered character, with many faults to go along with her abundance of admirable qualities), shoving it down your viewers’ throats three weeks in a row isn’t exactly the most pleasant experience for the audience.
It’s not that I love Leslie any less after watching “Farmers Market,” or that I thought this episode or even Leslie’s storyline in particular (as she and Ben tried to figure out how their marriage would affect their new work relationship, since, as the new city manager, he is now technically her boss) were off-putting. Simply put, after two previous weeks of showing Leslie concoct crazy schemes and plans to help push her agendas forward, I would have loved to have seen a different part of Leslie’s personality, which I’m sure I will during next week’s Parks and Recreation, which will be Rob Lowe and Rashida Jones’ final episode as series regulars, when Chris and Ann leave Pawnee.
Getting back to last night, while I didn’t absolutely love Leslie and Ben’s argument over how to deal with Chard from the farmers’ market, the pair’s antics did make me laugh quite a bit. I really enjoyed their opening scene with Ron, as they kept flirting back and forth until Ron had enough and forcibly made Ben stamp the documents that Leslie had. Also, even though it was definitely over the top, Leslie chasing down Ben, describing how each new place he went was somehow connected to City Hall, definitely put a smile on my face. As I said, hopefully next week’s sure-to-be emotional episode of Parks and Rec will provide a calmer, less erratic Leslie, but the way her pushiness and resolve were portrayed this week were a lot better than her attempts to undermine Tom in last week’s “New Beginnings.”
Although I had some minor issues with the main plot of last night’s episode, Parks and Recreation made up for it with excellent subplots, one involving Ann’s need to complain about her life without Chris’s constant attempts to help and the other focusing on Andy’s performance at Craig’s six-year-old nephew’s birthday party. First, looking at the Ann/Chris story from last night, the main reason that it is an improvement from any of their recent storylines together is that it actually has both of them interact with the rest of the Parks gang instead of being isolated to just each other. When Ann hijacks the wine and cheese club (or is it the whine and cheese club?) in order to vent about her problems, it’s the funniest Rashida Jones had been in a long time, especially due to her Pac-Man rant.
Furthermore, I like how Parks and Recreation illustrates that Chris and Ann can still have issues with each other. The past couple weeks have been molding them into this almost super-powered, perfect couple, and that made both characters extremely less interesting during this final run of episode for them. Thankfully, ‘”Farmers Market” course corrects those recent character problems and provides a lot of laughs in the process.
While Andy’s storyline gets the least amount of screen time in the episode, it’s probably my favorite plot that “Farmers Market” offers. Even though Andy has matured a ton over the course of Parks and Rec’s past six seasons, he’s mostly still a married man-child, a guy in his early 30s with a youthful spirit and a big heart. Therefore, it makes perfect sense (and really gets me excited for Andy as a character) that it appears that he may have found his niche in performing for children’s parties, as Andy’s friendly demeanor and his improvisational skills already earn him a second gig from another parent after he does such a great job at Craig’s nephew’s party.
Despite the fact that this may signal the end of Mouserat, I think it’s a nice step forward for Andy as a character and for Parks and Recreation as a show, which, no matter what, will find a way to have Chris Pratt continue to sing. This is a series that is in its sixth year on TV and is a heck of a lot funnier and better than it needs to be most of the time. However, it’s also a show that realizes it needs to evolve and change as it remains on the air if it wants to be as successful as it has been in the past.
Next week, when Parks and Recreation deals with its biggest change yet (the departure of Ann and Chris), I’m hoping it will embrace this new version of the show as an exciting opportunity for its characters and not as an unwanted necessity. The leaving of Ann and Chris is not a major road block the series will have to deal with but simply a bumpy patch of road that it will be forced to cross over, and I’m sure Parks and Rec will keep us laughing, no matter how long the ride takes.
– While Andy’s storyline may have been my favorite from “Farmers Market,” the best moment of the episode, by far, goes to Ron Swanson’s gleeful enthusiasm over his new “rectangle.” As he tells Chris when they arrive at his door, “Tom put all my records into this rectangle!” And a minute later, he smiles and calls out, “The songs just play, one after the other! This is an excellent rectangle!”
– Leslie and Ben have Harrison Ford movie nights. But which movie does Ben choose? Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. I’m disappointed in you, Wyatt.
– Loved how Ron kept referring to Ann as “The Nurse” while she complained to the group, and he listened to Willie Nelson on his headphones.
– Andy attempting to persuade Mouserat to play the birthday party with him: “Dave Grohl might be there. He might be anywhere, and he’s unpredictable.” “Hey, Shaq might be there.”
– Math, according to Andy: “150 bucks. Split that four ways…BOOM, 400 dollars!”
What did everyone else think of last night’s Parks and Recreation? Are you ready for Ann and Chris to leave next week?
[Photo via Chris Haston/NBC]