Parks and Recreation – One in 8,000 Review: Big News, Decent Episode
For some reason, this episode sped by with alarming speed. I think I kept expecting someone to yell out “You’ve been punked!” I mean, triplets?! Count on Leslie to knock something like procreating out of the park. Of course, from the 99 cent pregnancy test to the questionable Dr. Saperstein—who thought a speck of cream cheese on the monitor was a fourth baby—how sure are we that Leslie and Ben are really having triplets?
Pardon my skepticism, but it just seems like a ridiculous situation, doesn’t it? To the credit of Parks
writers, there’s all sorts of interesting things to be mined from an unexpected pregnancy, let alone one involving multiple children. I mentioned last week that Leslie’s situation complicates her Chicago job offer, but this development just upped the stakes. Where does the show go from here? Well, one hope is that they don’t fall into those overwrought sitcom pregnancy tropes. This show is so much better than that.
“One in 8,000” isn’t my favorite episode, but it succeeds in showing the tension of receiving such life-altering news. Leslie, who has always been so focused on work, maintains that there’s no reason for her to not be herself, especially given that the Unity Concert is only three weeks away and they need to collect things for the auction. But then, she receives the bombshell news of triplets, which means something has to change in how she manages her job, right? She’s stressing for two now, after all.
But despite Leslie’s best efforts to be the world’s calmest auctioneer (much to Craig’s chagrin), channeling Matthew McConaughey in a hammock on the beach doesn’t seem fitting either. Figuring out that balance of being stressed out and calm—without completely undoing what makes Leslie who she is—will make for some interesting character development over the course of her pregnancy and into motherhood.
Ben, on the other hand, goes into full accountant mode, drawing up charts and calculating the cost of raising three children: a horrifying $2 million. Let the panic attack ensue! I’ve always enjoyed Ben’s freak outs, mostly because Adam Scott plays them up with such enthusiasm, and his “We are so #%*&^@ screwed!” felt particularly appropriate in this circumstance. You let those feelings out, Ben! Of course, wonderful husband that he is, he attempts to be Leslie’s “Stress ShamWow,” which results in his own massive freak out about not being prepared to raise their children. (Side note: You can never spend too much money on French macaroons.)
She goes through a laundry list of things they’ve endured together—the Harvest Festival, election, recall, merger, Ann leaving and Larry changing his name for some stupid reason—and it’s somewhat schmaltzy to proclaim all of these things as preparation for parenthood, but I’ll give them a pass. Mostly because, despite all the craziness that I’m sure having triplets will bring, they’ll always be there to give each other head massages when things get too stressful. And if that’s not a couple worth rooting for, I don’t know who is.
Meanwhile, the Ron and Donna subplot was mostly conflict-free, but I almost always enjoy when they're in cahoots, especially when Ron starts to size up her ex-boyfriend Joe (under the assumption he’s her Tammy) with a mild-mannered but stern warning: “I’m onto you, friend. Tread lightly.” I anticipated a hot mess of a man (actually, I was really looking forward to seeing a male Tammy), but it turns out Joe’s nothing more than a saintly elementary school music teacher. That was an interesting turn, but oh, Donna. Smart and kind men, who are good with kids, can make homemade pasta and like sex, don’t come around all that often!
In all his wisdom, Ron lays down the truth, as he so often does, after finding no faults with Donna’s ex: Don’t confuse drama with happiness, he says. Smartly, she decides to give it another go with Joe. But she also makes an astute observation about the slight change in Ron's demeanor. His gradual softening, showing more patience and empathy, especially toward his co-workers, has been an ongoing development this season. I love all of Ron's quirks—and I hope they don’t soften him up too much because this show needs his no-nonsense attitude—but there’s also something adorable about seeing him interact with his daughters as they crown him “King Sparkle of Cupcake Forest.” And that tiny smile when Donna said that the change suited him was priceless. Kids really do put things into perspective, don't they?
Next week, it’s finally time for the Unity Concert! I’ve read about a few of the special guests set to make an appearance, which makes me doubly excited for the hour-long finale. Can you believe we're almost at the end of season six?
Notes and Quotes
- This show’s rotating cast of supporting characters—Herman (the pawn shop owner), Jamm and Dr. Saperstein, to name a few—still astounds me. These people provide so much life to episodes, even if they’re only in a group scene for a few minutes. I particularly enjoyed Dexhart’s one-birthday-a-year-for-multiple-children setup, especially the half pirate/half princess cake.
- April is catfishing Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. No one should be surprised by this. But maybe having to scratch Larry’s back was karma coming back to bite her.
- Leslie: “You’re looking at a woman who just hit triple cherries in her uterus.” Jackpot!
- I feel bad that I only noticed Tom’s absence when Andy mentioned him in his list of fake secrets. Also, Andy is terrible at secret keeping.
- Ben: “Everything is a-OK coolio beans.” I am using this from now on.
- Donna: “I’ll wear that red thing when you deserve to see me in that red thing.” Ooh, girl.
- I nearly died after Craig’s outburst about his accomplishments always being overshadowed. He’s often more effective in small doses, and this instance—after the sweet scene of everyone offering their help to Leslie and Ben in their own personal ways—was the perfect way to use him.