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Parks and Recreation – Prom Review: An Affair to Remember

When did creative promposals become such a huge fad? The “promposal” hashtag on Instagram has over 30,000 posts, ranging from colorful posters to rose petals spelling out “Prom?” Of course, you can count on Leslie to be on top of the trend by surprising Ben with a momentarily deafening explosion of confetti along with a “Will you go to prom with me?” cake. Yay, prom!

Prom is a high school rite of passage, and it’s not any different in Pawnee as we find the intrepid Parks Department rallying to throw the best fairy tale-themed prom ever…with a budget of basically zero. I love when everyone comes together in service of one common goal because the storylines flow better, and it usually turns out to be a lot of fun. This episode had all of that and a magical balloon drop!

Parks and Recreation

In true Leslie fashion, she can’t stop thinking about the Chicago job (kudos to the writers for not letting the audience forget about her dilemma either), so prom planning serves as a much-needed distraction. However, her desire to plant seeds for the next generation brings about a mostly friendly competition between her and Ron that ends, quite predictably, with another Ron Swanson nugget of wisdom. He’s been doling out a lot of those lately. But more on that in a bit.

At first glance, it seems like Allison is the perfect mini Leslie. The blonde hair is an obvious similarity (perhaps too obvious), but the prom planning binder—complete with color tabs purchased through Mexican back channels—makes it feel like a match made in internship heaven. Naturally, Ron vows not to let Allison work for free, citing his desire to prevent Leslie from corrupting the youth with her pro-government ways. I’m inclined to agree with him. Internship experience at city hall sounds great in theory, but college is expensive! In any case, though we’ve seen this butting of heads between Leslie and Ron many times before given their disparate ideologies, the dynamic between Amy Poehler and Ron Offerman always makes their scenes together shine, particularly when she threatens him with a helium-induced squeaky voice: “I will defeat you. Mark my words.”

Parks and Recreation

But as fun as the back and forth to win Allison’s favor was, I found Leslie’s short conversation with Ron about moving to Chicago more compelling. While it’s true that Ron is hopeless without Leslie, she’s equally lost without his no nonsense advice—which he has been more than willing to share as their friendship has developed. As we’ve seen throughout the seasons, Ron understands Leslie in a way few people do, so it was endearing to hear about his 10-point scale for her insanity level and how to handle it, from doing nothing if she’s at a five or below (saves time) to having the police on standby if she has hit an eight. I can’t even imagine what happens if she reaches a 10, but you just know Ron will have it under control if it ever does. Of course, it remains to be seen if Leslie will actually heed his suggestion of enjoying herself instead of worrying about who will take over when she leaves. I have a feeling things will only continue to ramp up as the Unity Concert approaches.

Ron’s advice for Leslie aside, the ultimate payoff of their storyline is the return of prankster extraordinaire Greg Pikitis, who, as it turns out, happens to be Allison’s boyfriend. We last saw Greg wreaking havoc in Pawnee in season two, so it was a fun surprise to see him back after all these years. Who knew Parks still had a few tricks up its sleeve? His return alone would have been a great callback, but in true Pikitis form, he staples Leslie’s dress to the tablecloth, sending snacks flying in the air and effectively ending her desire to mentor Allison. After all, we are known by the company we keep.

Parks and Recreation

As for April, we’re given a chance to see a more vulnerable side of her personality. Sure, she’s at her best when she’s bitingly sarcastic—and this episode still allows her to do that—but it’s refreshing to see that she has insecurities like everyone else, too. Namely, she questions whether she and Andy would have ever even dated and gotten married if they went to high school together. Being at prom reminds her of how different their high school experiences were—with Andy as a loveable, partying goofball with a million friends and April as the girl who made fun of everyone and hid the janitor’s mops so he’d think he was going insane—and it’s a frank observation to wonder how she can love him if she hates what he loves. Although Andy often plays up his daftness, his response to her unease was sweet—kids in high school are idiots, and it only matters that they found each other right now. Winning prom king and queen (with a stuffed ballot box, naturally) was the perfect way to commemorate their union. I just hope Andy wasn’t able to convince her to jump the limo over the lake.

Meanwhile, what would prom be without the tunes? Leslie tasks Ben and Tom with handling DJ-ing duties, much to Tom’s chagrin—even though Ben has had his own radio show in college, aptly named “Zoot Suit Wyatt.” This duo has spent a lot of time together this season, and most of the time, Tom makes fun of Ben’s age or dorky lifestyle. But with Tom’s realization that not knowing what’s cool with high schoolers might actually mean that he’s growing up (finally!), it’s a good use of the pairing, especially with the continued development of Tom’s new business. Tom could use a little bit of Ben’s old-man wisdom—and good music that isn’t auto-tuned.

Notes and Quotes
– I greatly enjoyed hearing about everyone’s prom nights, including Leslie’s make-out sesh with an AV geek, a Monica Lewinski lookalike at Andy’s prom, Ben’s parents throwing him a psychologically scarring prom in their living room, Tom looking fly as hell but pissing off his date by being at prom for just 15 minutes, Ron outgrowing prom at 12 years old, and Donna missing prom because she was dating an older man (who may or may not have been Duke’s Coach K).
– Speaking of Donna, I am forever impressed by her command over men. Teach me your ways!
– Leslie: “Aw, did you want to DJ, little puppy? I didn’t know little puppies could operate an iPod with their little puppy paws.” I echo Donna’s sentiment of “eww” and “boo.”
– April Ludgate Summer Solstice Druid Festival and Buffalo Wings Eating Contest is a mouthful.
– My favorite scene had to be Orin and Champion dressed up as April’s mom and dad, respectively. It was so bizarre yet brilliant.
– Ron: “Continue with your awkward close-quarters gyrating.”
– I’m highly impressed by Tom’s tests to determine whether a song is a banger. Throwing away his computer because he accidentally downloaded a Lumineers song seems wasteful though.
– But seriously, what is Grizzledump?
– I’m disappointed Tom didn’t let DJ Roomba spin a set.

Rating
9.0
Pros
  • The storylines all center around one event.
  • Ron and Leslie’s heart-to-heart.
Cons
  • No Leslie/Ben interaction at prom.

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