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Parks and Recreation – Gin It Up! Review: Three Strong Plots Make for a Great Episode

Last week, I complained about the problematic nature of Leslie’s characterization when it comes to her personal relationships—mainly because she’s hard-wired to take things to the extreme. Like Ron’s distaste for lying and jokes, I don’t quite care for it. I would much rather see her get neurotic while taking care of business at City Hall.

I’m thankful, then, that this episode focuses back on the “Recall Knope” campaign (complete with flatulent Leslie Knope dolls!) and pits Leslie against her archnemesis, Councilman Jamm. Jamm is lit-erally the worst, but isn’t it nice when we can all rally against a common enemy? Even though he’s suddenly spearheading the initiative to drive Leslie out of office by tabling all of her bill propositions—it’s nothing personal—Jamm has always been a harmless nuisance. He’s sort of like the annoying little brother who gets under Leslie’s skin but can’t do any real damage. Of course, I can’t help but love their dynamic (mostly because he is so pathetic), and as much as I hate to admit it, I’d like to see more of Jamm.

The real trouble starts when Donna accidentally tweets from the Parks Department Twitter account instead of from her personal one. Something about tongue baths, a fireman and an eggplant/lips emoji combo. It’s enough to get Chris aroused—and it’s good Ann isn’t there to witness his embarrassing admission. But we’ll get to her absence in a second.

With Twitter Watergate brewing, it suddenly felt like Law & Order: Pawnee. Was this episode idea ripped from the headlines? Because I think I’ve read more than enough news articles about people getting into hot water for inappropriate tweets. But I digress. In Parks and Rec land, it’s mostly just a clever storyline, especially given that the actress who portrays Donna, the fabulous Retta, has quite the prolific and hilarious Twitter account.

More importantly, however, we’re able to learn what one of Leslie’s co-workers thinks about her. What’s more honest than a tweet you think won’t be seen? Like The Office’s Michael Scott, although to a lesser degree, Leslie has always straddled the line between boss and friend. When appropriate, there’s no problem with being both, but as we learned through Donna’s tweets, there are times when people need to vent about work frustrations, including bosses who can be a bit too demanding. It’s not that she’s annoying, as Chris later explains to Leslie, but that people are able to do what she asks—despite any annoyance they might feel—because they love her. It’s a sweet sentiment, to be sure, but it also underscores the fact that Leslie has managed to toe the friend-boss line better than Michael did at Dunder Mifflin.

I’m certainly not condoning the use of social media to air out grievances, no matter how innocent they may seem, but the whole debacle leads to a nice heart-to-heart between the two women about their working relationship and friendship. And as Donna asks during the hearings, how could Leslie think she hates her after everything they’ve been through in the past 10 years? That’s what I wondered last week with regards to Ann leaving. Somehow, Leslie hasn’t fully grasped that her co-workers have become her true friends, but I think she’s slowly coming around to it.

As for Ann’s absence in this episode, I didn’t really mind as much as I thought I would. I love Rashida Jones as much as the next person, but if Leslie’s interaction with Donna (aka El Diablo) is any indication, I don’t think the show will suffer when Ann and Chris leave. The writers have built up these great relationships within the Parks Department over the course of five seasons, and it’ll be nice to continue exploring different facets of them. And frankly, even though we’ve usually gotten small bursts of Donna, I’m totally up for her being involved in meatier storylines more often.

How do you know when an episode’s good? When all three plots work equally well.

Tom has quite an interesting dating history, from Wendy to Lucy to Ann and most recently, the crazy Mona-Lisa. But I suppose with his fashion, technological and entrepreneurial savvy, how could girls not fawn all over him? Or maybe it’s because he’s so stupid cute that he’s hard to resist. Like April said, there is literally no risk involved, so why not? But before I continue, I need to briefly fangirl over Tom’s latest crush Nadia, who’s played by Tatiana Maslany.

If you haven’t already seen Orphan Black, do yourself a favor and watch the first season as soon as possible. In short, it’s a show about clones, and Maslany plays at least three different characters in every episode to perfection. Although Maslany’s Nadia will only be around for a short stay—Rwanda calls!—I think she fits in quite well. Plus, Tom’s relationships are usually comedy gold, so I can’t wait to see what next week will bring.

Finally, we learn that Ron has amassed quite the fortune—not that he’s telling where it’s hidden or which precious metals and/or gemstones it may or may not take the form of. I’m not at all surprised, but it adds another layer to the already legendary Ron Swanson mystique. I adored this plotline, especially the way Ben handled himself. Only an über nerd could say something like “He’s a lawyer. I’m an accountant. We speak the same language. I mean, obviously accountants are a little more bad boy, but there’s a respect there.” Plus, he gets to hear Ron’s first (and possibly last) joke!

Of course, the only thing the two men really have in common is Leslie, so it was nice to see that moment when Ron tells Ben that he wants him and Leslie to take care of his kids should anything happen to him and Diane—assuming, of course, the maitre d’ at Mulligan’s has succumbed to old age. That’s as close to sentimental as Ron will ever get, and I’m glad Ben was the recipient of his goodwill. it was a top-notch episode. I only wish more comedies could juggle three plots as well as Parks can.

Notes and Quotes
- I shared in April’s giddiness when she asked to keep Leslie’s question mark stickers in order to put them on stop signs. But I enjoyed playing “spot the question marks” even more, from the sticker-covered desk to the “closed session” sign. It’s like at Disneyland when you see Hidden Mickeys everywhere you go.

- My favorite Donna tweet: “Message to the recall haters: You can’t keep Leslie Knope down. She’s too real for this ish. #BossBitch”

- Why didn’t Donna go to the Great Gatsby brunch? Why is Typhoon called Typhoon? And how much is Ron’s fortune? These are the things that keep me up at night.

- It’s brilliant how the writers have crafted a character that can give someone an apology present of lipsticks and nail polishes one minute and then turn it into a chore the next with schedules so they’re able to match said lipsticks and nail polishes. #PsychoBoss

- I snickered every time Ethel Beavers read out the Twitter hashtags as “number sign.”

- Ron: “Upon my death, all of my belongings shall transfer to the man or animal who has killed me.” That’s a pretty solid will for an 8 year old.

- The moment I heard “Jet Blue Ivy,” I knew Nadia Whatever-Her-Last-Name-Is was the one for Tom. And of course, now Tom owes April 1,000 favors, but it was sweet of her to help him woo his latest crush.

- I see you pumping up the jams and keep the floor clean, DJ Roomba.



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