Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Parks and Recreation

Parks and Recreation
Episode 12: Ann's Decision
By: Carlos Uribe

Parks and Recreation is a show about Pawnee's parks and recreation department and a town councilwoman named Leslie Knope.

Spoilers Ahoy!

“You are so brilliant and kind and stupid-hot!”-Leslie

A decision to have a baby is a pretty big one. It's one that shouldn't be taken lightly because of the responsibilities. You can't just have a kid and lead your life as it was before. You are now responsible for the life and well-being of a child. When Ann decides that she's going to have a baby after dating herself for six weeks, along with having helped Ron watch Diane's kids, Leslie becomes immediately concerned with her friend. It's a legitimate concern to have because Ann might be rushing into the decision. She might not have completely thought of what having a baby would mean to her life nor does she seem to realize the difficulties that being a single mother adds. Leslie doesn't reveal her concerns to Ann. She might question the decision a bit but she's willing to pretend to help her friend find a sperm donor. She pretends to support the decision because she realizes it's easier to undermine the decision rather than to start a big fight over it. She's hoping she'll be able to steer Ann into the right path rather than follow through with this decision. In many ways, Leslie is trying to force a traditional family into Ann's life. She's hoping that if Ann waits until she has found her own Ben then Ann will be able to have Leslie's dream. This divide between the two friends helps to drive the comedy. It would have been funny if Leslie and Ann were just interviewing potential sperm donors but it becomes hilarious because Leslie doesn't want Ann to find a suitable donor.

“I have driven Ann right into the belly of The Douche”-Leslie

Leslie fails in her mission as Ann finds a suitable donor in the Douche. I've never been a big fan of this character but his popularity within the town is a reflection of the inhabitants. His interview does reveal some important details. His on-air persona started out as satire which quickly became popular. He's been able to make a living out of being a douche on the air. There are moments that come through where he comes across as a human being but he seems to have lost his ability to actually control his public persona. It's an interesting choice that adds a layer to what is otherwise a two-dimensional character. It's what allows the show to sell the idea that Ann would be interested having him be the dad. Leslie panics in this because she clearly isn't going to approve of this choice so she decides to undermine it by backstabbing Ann and revealing the truth. There's a confrontation between the two before Leslie realizes that Ann might have been rushing the decision but it was still her life. She's able to make up for it by going on the radio show. It ends on a sweet note as Leslie promises to actually help her friend through this ordeal. Giving Ann a baby is a surprising direction for the show to take but it's one that has had some preparation from when she realizes she was actually good with kids a few episodes past.

“There's been a mistake. You've accidentally given me the food that my food eats.”-Ron Swanson

Ann might not be waiting for Mr. Right before having a baby but Leslie's wedding gets closer. Ben spends the episode trying to pick the perfect caterer for the job. For this decision, he recruits Chris, Ron, and Tom to help him try out different caterers. This is really all to set up a hilarious physical comedy scene where Chris, Ben, and Ron are all food sick from some mini-calzones that they eat. Tom is the only one who didn't get sick because he refuses to eat food which he has to dip into sauces. This food sickness really creates a problem for Ben because that was the caterer he had planned to pick. He can't chose between the other two but then he realizes which restaurant would be perfect. It was under his nose the whole time as he decides to pick J.J.'s Diner as the wedding caterer. This is a decision that Leslie can get behind and it only proves that she has indeed found the perfect man for her. It's a sweet plot that is simply filled with great accomplishments of physical comedy. I could seriously watch the scene where they try to get the phone to call Tom all day long.

“As Eleanor Roosevelt once said to Betty Ford, 'Hilary Clinton is great!'”-April

One recurring thread in this episode is Leslie. While Leslie is trying to steer her friend into the traditional path, her fiance is picking out who should cater their wedding. She influences the final plot of the episode where April has to run a public meeting. There is nothing that shows Leslie's impact on April because that character decides that the best way to run the meeting is to emulate Leslie. This doesn't work because April is trying to be someone that she simply isn't. She might try to copy Leslie's attitude but she can't actually get her personality. Andy is the person who realizes that the best way for the town meetings to work to their advantage is to have April act as herself. This works wonders and April is able to actually works towards her goal. The message that you should be yourself is a simple one but it works because of who April tried to emulate. We know her relationship with Leslie and how she runs meetings. If it had been any other character then it wouldn't have been able to work as well. In other words, it's the show proving it knows it's characters.

Ann's Decision is a hilarious and great episode of Parks and Recreation. Ann's choice to have a baby and Leslie's reaction to this news is comedy gold. The physical comedy of Ron, Chris, and Ben was hysterical. April's decision to be Leslie when running public is just as funny as the other two plots. What's great about this show is that it takes situations and creates great humor out of them because of how well developed the characters are. Parks and Recreation delivers a worthy episode to it's mighty roster of great episodes.

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