Parks and Rec Season 6 Premiere: London
Parks and Rec is back, and starts us off with a one hour premiere that takes the gang to London. I thought this episode started and ended strong, but was otherwise a little disjointed and disappointing. Because of the length of the episode, this one is going to be a little long. Alright, let’s get started!
The episode begins right where we left off: Andy and Ron are chatting in Ron’s office when Andy remembers that someone is pregnant followed by Diane walking in and asking to speak to Ron…in private. Is it true?! IT IS!! Diane wants to know how Ron feels about this, and he brings out a small wooden box, says how he was planning on doing this at their anniversary (and taking her somewhere romantic…like in a canoe that he built himself), and proposes. She accepts!! Its great and cute and doesn’t feel overly sappy since these are not overly sappy people.
Diane doesn’t want a big wedding, and they decide to head up to the fourth floor to get married RIGHT NOW!! Yay! They run into April and Leslie, invite them to join (April requests to be the best man), and Leslie has ALL THE FEELS and begins talking about balloons and flowers. Diane is funny and jokes that her middle name is “Tammy” (it’s really Elizabeth). Leslie interrupts the ceremony for a ten second speech, and then Ron and Diane are married, Leslie throws shredded paper, credits.
Next we get a glimpse of Leslie, whose time in office has not been easy as there is still a campain to kick her out of office with a recall vote. Leslie has decided to combat this with a “No Problem Too Small” campaign, in which the community is invited to come into her office and complain about things such as garden slugs and Leslie (and her team) will personally work to resolve the issue. Oh hey, here comes Chris Traeger, who is just as optimistic as ever! Ann tells us she and Chris are spending every day together and things with them are going great.
[Laura: Gif from here not this episode but I enjoy the pun. Forgive me!]
Last season we saw Ann decide she wanted to get pregnant despite not being in a relationship and look into sperm donor options. This led her to consider Chris, and now they are apparently dating. While I do like the idea of them together, was anyone else confused last season when Ann started off looking for sperm donors and ended up taking parenting compatibility tests with Chris? I was under the impression she wasn’t looking for a co-parent, and then was never really addressed.
Ok, back to this episode: It’s Tommy’s turn! Tom is still dealing with some mystery entrepreneur (not Jason Statham) (not Lebron James) who bought out a storefront across the street and is gunning to put Tom out of business.
And back to Leslie’s team: it’s a month later and this campaign isn’t working. April announces she nominated Leslie for a prestigious award: the International Coalition of Women in Government, and Leslie won! Chris thinks April is lying, but she’s not! It’s real! And the award ceremony is in London! Yay!
Fast forward another month, and the team is in London! Leslie, April, Ben, and Andy; oh and Ron! Ron is there because Diane suggested tagging along for their honeymoon, then was too sick to go and asked Ron to take pictures for her. Ron is not happy, he hates Europe and only loves America, steak, and Diane. Leslie says she feels guilty for enjoying London and leaving Pawnee; Ben tells her to enjoy herself while April and Andy take selfies in the background.
Back to Pawnee: Tommy is in his store, Mona Lisa quits, and Jean-Ralphio comes in eating pizza to tell him about the more awesome version of his store across the street. Tommy realizes he needs some better friends.
Gif from here
Back to London: Ben and Andy are going to meet with some rich royalty in an attempt to expand their non-profit work. Your Royal Excellency Lord Edgar Darby Covington, 14th Earl of Cornwall-Upon-Thames, 19th Baron of Hartfordshire teases Ben and Andy about not using his full title, prompting great panicked faces from Ben and Andy before they realize it’s a joke and he goes by “Eddie”.
Leslie is trying to decide on movie themed bus tours (Notting Hill, Love Actually, Bridget Jones Diary- my winners are Notting Hill and Love Actually) while Ron makes fun of London tourist attractions.
Back in Pawnee, Donna helps Tommy by pulling the business license for the mysterious shop across the street in order to have an address to investigate. Tommy goes to the address and sees Ann and Chris. He follows them inside, where Ann is receiving a sonogram (because YAY! She’s Pregnant!!). The doctor is Mr. Saperstein, Jean-Ralphio and Mona Lisa’s father!! He tells Tom he is doing this because Tommy scammed J-R out if his business and stole M-L’s virginity, prompting a long laugh from everyone. Also, Mr. Saperstein is played by Harry Winkler.
Back in London, Ben is pitching his after school music program while Andy gets distracted by remote control helicopters, prompting a break. We see that Eddie is basically the British version of Andy, much to Ben’s frustration in actually talking about his charity.
Leslie is practicing her speech to April, who recommends ditching the speech in favor of meow-ing for eight minutes. Leslie misses Pawnee and checks out The Final Word with Perd, just in time to see photos of herself yanked in London (yanked from Facebook) as justification for recalling her from office. She closes her laptop, looking frustrated. Leslie decides she should leave before the ceremony, Ron suggests she is stressed, Leslie agrees and decides to walk past Colin Firth’s house again to de-stress.
Tom meets with the J-R and M-L who are wearing matching stonewash denim sleeveless jacket and they are as obnoxious as usual. Tommy tells them someone has to tell their father the truth; this burden falls on J-R.
At the award ceremony, Leslie mets some of the other honorees, including Heidi Klum as an honoree from Denmark. Her town made a statue of her from goat cheese.
Ben is trying to talk about their program and Eddie admits he has no idea what he’s doing. He knows he has lots of money but doesn’t know anything about charities. He agrees to fund their charity, but he’d need Andy to stay for a few months to help him get it started, since he doesn’t know how to run a non-profit.
Leslie begins her speech and realizes she is fed up. She tells everyone that her town hates her and calls the town of Pawnee “pee-pee heads”. She makes fun of her townspeople for clinging to their “fried dough and big sodas” and then, apparently getting mad at her when their pants don’t fit!
One of my biggest complaints about this show is their conflicting treatment of fat people. One the one side, we have not just one but two visibly fat characters on the show, and one of those has a character arc that has never once mentioned her size. On the other, we have Leslie, frequently commenting on the obesity of Pawnee’s citizens, conflating weight and health, and talking about how all fat people are fat because they drink too much soda. Uh-huh, sure. Its okay for Leslie to be in love with waffles because she’s skinny, but fat people and soda? Noooo.
Since we are going to be spending the season together, folks, there’s some things you should know about me: I’m fat, and I am an advocate for fat acceptance (exactly what it sounds like) and health at every size (a weight-neutral approach to health that focuses on self acceptance and healthy behaviors, in lieu weight control). For all the things that Parks & Rec gets right, this is one of the biggest things that bums me out. So seriously, Parks and Rec, lay off the fat jokes. They are lazy, unoriginal, and make me roll my eyes.
[Laura: Harry Potter Liz Lemon rolls her eyes, too]
Ben checks in with Leslie, who brushes him off saying they are 4,000 miles away. Jerry calls and tells her the speech was webcast in Pawnee, where everyone saw and now are using this as another reason to recall Leslie.
Ron tells Leslie she has to be the grown-up, and compares her situation to a child yelling “I hate you” to a parent (you don’t sink to their level and yell “I hate you back”). I actually really loved this conversation, because Leslie acknowledges she isn’t handling things well and that its sucky and Ron gives good advice. He tells her she isn’t in it to get praise and rewards, she does this to make a positive difference in people’s lives, and chasing recognition will drive her mad. As someone who has worked in community mental health for over 8 years, this definitely rang true. Leslie responds by giving him a travel itinerary for his wedding gift; Ron is not convinced that he wants to see more of Europe but accepts.
Ann and Chris begin telling everyone they are pregnant, but don’t seem to get the responses they expect. In particular, Jerry begins talking about her body (you’ll start showing, your milk will come in) and then mimes an infant rooting for a nipple.
WHAT THE FUCK WAS THIS?!?! This seemed incredibly out of character and just a reason to make Jerry look stupid. Ugh, I am so tired of the Jerry bullying. At first, I totally got the idea that while Jerry was teased by his co-workers, they were the ones who were in the wrong and ultimately the ones who looked stupid, because Jerry has a fulfilling and all around positive life outside the office. But at this point? It just needs to end. It serves no more purpose. And this? Jerry pretending to suckle? I was watching by myself and felt uncomfortable. I just…don’t even know. No. No more, Parks and Rec, this was gross.
[Laura: as you yourself pointed out, Michelle, sometimes you just have to shout “No!” until sometime happens]
April thinks it’s great that “Lord Fancyface” wants Andy to stay, while Andy isn’t sure. April is supportive and encouraging. She reminds him they can do distance, and tells him she believes in him. Awww.
Ann and Chris tell Leslie, who is excited and tries to give Ann an endless hug while showering them with compliments.
Tom confronts Mr. Saperstein, J-R admits he lied about the business idea, honey badger Mr. Saperstein don’t care, hone badger Mr. Saperstein don’t give a shit. He still wants to put Tom out of business, because whatevs. You know who really doesn’t care? Me. I don’t really care about this storyline except for Tom realizing he needs better friends.
April and Leslie are using coffee grounds to rid the sidewalk of slugs, an idea she got from Heidi Klum. The original complainer still isn’t satisfied, because she didn’t want ALL the slugs gone, just MOST of them! April is all like ugh this is awful, she didn’t even say ‘thank you’. Leslie concurs but keeps going.
We get a lot of snapshots of all the different storylines to wrap things up:
Ben’s back at work and was given a herd of corgis by Lord Fancyface.
Chris and April talk about how big their baby is and baby names. They are going to do this their way, even if people aren’t excited.
Tom is all bummed out and J-R compares Tom to Baby Face to cheer him up- at his age, Baby Face hadn’t even signed Toni Braxton OR Usher! What? Tom is instantly cheered. He asked J-R to unbreak his heart, and J-R was successful.
April realizes that Leslie is heading to burnout city so she decides to read Leslie her nomination letter. April recounts how Leslie cares about her community and her friends, and it is sincerely touching. Plus she signed it “Satan” to balance it out.
While April reads her letter we see Ron travelling through the countryside and eventually ending up at a distillery on a tiny island off the coast of Scotland. We see Ron on a cliff, overlooking the water, reading a poem provided by Leslie.
The episode ends with Leslie and Ben discussing how much they loved traveling. Then Leslie gives Ben a barristers wig but its not sexy.
So to sum up, I liked the beginning, I liked the ending, but this premiere suffered from too many story lines and weird behavior by some of the characters, primarily Jerry. I miss Leslie’s excitement and enthusiasm for her work, and hope this recall vote ends quickly and we get to see her having great ideas and pulling them off. I get wanting to change up her story line, and I definitely understand burn out; but I just really loved Leslie’s enthusiasm and welcome it back. Oh, and April was pretty awesome this season, and I like seeing the growth in her and Andy’s relationship without sacrificing either of their kookiness.
So, to sum up:
YAY: Ron & Diane get married, Leslie wins an award, ceremony is in London, matching stonewash denim sleeveless jackets, Ron gives good advice, April & Andy’s relationship, April’s letter about Leslie
NAY: Fat shaming in Leslie’s speech, Jerry’s weird nipple rooting face, overall hectic feeling to the episode
Overall Grade: B-