Parks and Recreation
Episode 6: Ben's Parents
By: Carlos Uribe
Parks and Recreation is a show about Pawnee's parks and recreation department and a town councilwoman named Leslie Knope.
Leslie and Ben start the episode by telling everyone that they're getting married. Leslie is so excited that she literally yellled off rooftops and got some noise complaints. If there is a single doubt in anyone's mind that she wants to get married to Ben then her sheer glee about the proposal should easily dispel it. They're going to have an engagement party and Leslie is excited. Ben isn't too happy because his parents are coming. They have been divorced for thirty years and they simply hate each other's guts. Ben makes the point multiple times that they simply can't be in the same room together. He goes as far as to pay a cab to wait outside his home so that Leslie and him can escape at any time. The series easily built up the dispute between Ben's parents to the point where one could easily be disappointed. I can safely say that the hype that the episode was building didn't do what actually came any justice. It was far worse than Ben was warning us about. Ben's Parents is simply a hilarious episode that shows us just how much Leslie and Ben love each other and how they are willing to always stand with each other even if it's against Ben's parents.
Who are Ben's parents? There's the mother. She's an educator and she's remarkably similar to Leslie's own mother. That doesn't mean they're the same but the two are able to get along fine in the beginning. There's the father. He's a tough, harsh man who is able to make the word “twizzler” sound threatening. When he says he's a red vine family, you don't want to mess with him. There's his girlfriend, Ulani, who feels awkward since she wasn't invited. She faces a lot of hostility from Ben's mother and she barely puts up with it. Leslie tries to bring these three people together by using a quilt that she made. It's a quilt that is supposed to represent the new family but Ulani is upset when she isn't included. Leslie adds a square just for her but only to find that Ben's mother cutting it out later. The situation detroiates when it's revealed that Ulani is pregnant. Any semblance of civility is gone from Ben's mother, whose now refusing to attend the wedding if Ben's father is attending. The family trouble ruined their engagement party. It isn't until Ben realizes that he has to stand up to his parents and take charge that he's able to. The only reason he can is because he has Leslie backing him up. Ben gets his parents to agree to come to the wedding by not giving them a choice. It's an amazing main plot that is able to highlight the two working together while helping to provide some critical information on just why Ben is the way he is.
There's some real character development with Tom. He's serious about his business idea that he wants Ron to invest in it. His initial presentation is filled with everything that Ron would hate and it takes April to point that out to him. Ron realizes that he can't treat his company like a party but he needs to take it seriously. He sets out to create a completely new business plan and he tries to get his usual business partner to help him. Jean-Ralphio is more interested in partying than actually putting in any work. The one contribution that Jean-Ralphio tries to make only ends up being a google search for Amanda Byne's side boob. Tom realizes that if he wants his business to get the startup funds and to succeed then he doesn't need someone whose not going to take it seriously. He fires Jean-Ralphio. This action is enough to convince Ron that Tom is serious about his business and Ron promises to invest in Tom's company. Having Tom being self-aware of his problem and fixing it is a huge character step for him. The episode is able to show this character growth perfectly. The Tom who began the episode is a different Tom that ended it and that made the episode so much stronger. It was hard to take his failed business, Entertainment 720, seriously but it has become so much easier to root for Rent-a-Swag to actually succeed.
Tom is growing up and Leslie and Ben are united as one. There's yet another character who is dealing with stuff this episode and that's Chris. Chris has been going to therapy and it's causing him to be very emotional. When Ann gives a toast to Chris, it simply breaks him apart because he's all alone. Ann, Chris, and April try their best to help cheer him up. The character clearly has a lot of issues that's hidden beneath his now-forced positivity. It's great that the character is allowing himself to feel sad for the first time in what is probably his life but this is merely repeating beats from previous episodes This isn't necessarily a bad thing and the episode is able to get quite a bit of jokes from his situation. It's just that this plot eventually needs to have some actual development before it becomes just Chris crying about stuff for no reason.
Not that I have any actual fear of that happening at all. This is the best show when it comes to knowing it's characters. They might develop slowly over time but they have grown since the series has first began. There is no doubt in my mind that they're taking Chris somewhere even it's taking a few episodes to get there. This remains my favorite comedy for a reason. Parks and Recreation delivered a hilarious episode in Ben's Parents. The episode practically did everything it could right. The show simply firing on all cylinders. What is there for me to say, except that twizzlers are better than red vines. What can I say? I come from a twizzler family.
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