Friday, April 15, 2011

Parks and Recreation Recap: "Fancy Party"

Can we just talk for a minute about Parks and Recreation?  Because when I watch Parks and Recreation it feels like sunshine might just start bursting out of my body, and that is a terrifying and wonderful sensation that I feel merits a few words.

The premise of last night’s episode, “Fancy Party,” was that April and Andy decided to get married.  Now, this could happen on any (mediocre) comedy: couple that’s been dating a month foolishly decide to get married, and all the sane people on the show try to talk them out of it, and at the end, they decide they’re not ready and don’t go through with it.

Except this is Parks and Recreation.  This is no mediocre comedy.  They make bold decisions.  They throw the rule book out the window.  So, there was no talking April and Andy out of anything.  The writers basically told “will-they-or-won’t-they” sitcom dating rules to go to hell and married, rather happily, the month-old young couple.  I can’t even handle how much I respect that decision.  It’s a fresh, bold choice, and allows for all future moments between Andy and April to be that  much more hilarious and sweet, because they’re married now.  And oh, do I want to see how these two handle their marriage - not because I want to see them be bad at it, but because April and Andy are pretty unique people, who defy many of the traditional “values” of marriage.  But at the end of the day, it’s pretty apparent that the Parks writers are going to return to the most basic foundation of marriage, that April and Andy have covered: they love each other.  I rather think that April and Andy will be pretty good at being married.

Of course, the Hasty Marriage was used effectively in application to Leslie and Ben’s storyline - Ben got offered a job to stay in Pawnee, and wanted to know if Leslie thought he should take it.  Again, Comedy Scenario 101 here.  But where lesser shows would lean on hijinx and miscommunications, Parks took the opportunity to show us (through Leslie’s good-natured but worried attempts to thwart the April-Andy union) that Leslie is not someone who takes chances, romantically.  She’s not comfortable being someone that tells another person to stick around just for her benefit.

The show did a lovely job with Leslie in this storyline - it was made clear that she wanted April and Andy to be happy, and that she merely was trying to think rationally.  She wasn't exactly projecting, but she was definitely demonstrating some beliefs that lined up with her own predicament.  But the more she realized that April and Andy were happy, and after a well-timed, adorable talk with Ron three-divorces-equals-three-flaming-effigies Swanson, she decided to take the plunge and tell Ben to consider staying.

Of course, the Even More Adorable part of this is that Ben already chose.  It was a lovely writing decision as well - both Ben and Leslie made the same choice, independently, without getting bogged down in any potential-relationship insecurities.  And, April specifically went to Leslie, and essentially told her everything was going to be okay, and that she loved her.  My heart! 

Lastly, the C plot belonged to poor Ann at a singles party, having a hard time flirting with guys.  The strength of this plotline really came from the opportunity it gave for Donna to finally get some well-earned airtime, and pairing her no-nonsense self-confidence with Ann’s oft-uneasy hesitance is one of the best uses for her.  Ann’s a difficult character to wield within the Parks universe - she’s not as kooky and caricatured as everyone else, and so the writers can’t always apply the same tactic with Ann as they use with other characters.  But despite that, the writers allow Ann her own place on the show, and give her as much attention as any other character.  Ann isn’t sidelined just because she’s not a punchline, and I appreciate that.  And further appreciation for pairing her with Donna, who's just simply underused.  It solves two hiccups simultaneously.

All in all, Parks and Recreation continues to make the best writing decisions of any comedy show on television.  They avoid tropes, sidestep bitchy conflicts, create loveable characters who care about one another, and all the while stay damn funny.  (Extra points for the dead pigeon joke and the awkward-but-sweet moment where April and Ron slow-danced!)  It’s really the best comedy on television, in that it transcends mere comedy and presents us with a half-hour of fresh characters who are charming in their flaws and endearing in their interactions, leaving us with no choice but to feel like we might explode with sunshine and joy.

1 comment:

  1. Great recap, this is one of my favorite episodes. Ron Swanson still and will be my favorite character, he has the funniest lines on the show. I found Parks and Recreation on That is a website from DISH Network. I actually work at DISH Network so I have been using DISHonline since it first came out. Check it out for yourself, there is thousands of free TV episodes and movies available.


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