Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Parks and Recreation

Parks and Recreation
Episode 16: Bailout
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!

It was bound to happen. Ron and Leslie basically sit on the opposite ends of the Pawnee political spectrum. Ron is a big believer in a small government and the free market. He believes that capitalism and competition are best left alone. Leslie is a strong supporter of the government. She might believe in capitalism as well but she wants to be able to help struggling businesses that provide cultural value to the community. In other words, she believes that the government should be able to get involved in the free market. The two actually butt heads this week when Leslie finds out that the local video rental store is going out of business. This isn't just any rental store as it generally offers only artistic choices rather than mainstream movies. It isn't bringing in a lot of money so it's going to have to shut it's doors. Leslie decides to try and rally the people to save it only to find that there's nothing she actually wants to rent. There is something so funny about Leslie trying to save a business that she can't even bring herself to actually financially support. She does find a way to keep the store open but only if it becomes a historical landmark. The store would be able to receive the tax credits necessary to stay open. This only brings Leslie and Ron into conflict. Leslie sees it as a way to preserve cultural access to the community while Ron sees it as the government bailing out yet another failed business. Ron isn't wrong here but the presumptive assumption is that the show would side with Leslie. It's written by those Hollywood liberals and Leslie is the protagonist. This show might allow Ron to speak his libertarian mind but it's always been very pro-government.

The biggest surprise is that Ron is actually right in this case. Leslie is able to get the tax credits for the business but she finds that the owner took her advice in the wrong way. He turned his artistic video rental place into a porn rental place. The place is packed and there's success but Leslie is mortified. This means that the government is now supporting a porn shop. She has basically become a porn peddler. Her crusade to save a business that had cultural value backfired as it turned into the opposite. Leslie is forced to admit that Ron is back but he does give her a great idea. The video store might remain porn-related but she can have the government host weekly movie sessions. She basically gets what she wants while Pawnee keeps subsidizing the porn rental store. It's not a complete win but at least she gets the cultural value. Ron might be right that the government shouldn't interfere in the free market but it's clearly stating that the job of promoting culture should be in the government's sphere. That makes sense. Overall, the main plot is really strong as it butts together Ron and Leslie's point of views and actually manages to find a compromise of sorts. The episode does end on a really strong note as we're treated to the beginning of the porn version of the episode-and it's one of the most brilliant gags this show has done.

The show has a few other plots. The first has to do with Chris. He's trying to decide whether to accept Ann's request for his sperm or not. He wants to be a father very badly but he's mortified that he won't do a good job. Ben suggests that he try to give fatherly advice to Tom to build up Chris' confidence only to have it backfire. Tom has been having problems with his latest employee, Mona Lisa. Mona Lisa is Jean-Ralphio's sister and she's just the worst. Chris' advice basically leads to them getting together. This discourages Chris from becoming a father until Jerry is able to give a great speech on how it's the small victories that keep him going as a dad. It's a nice speech that is ruined when nobody stops Jerry from talking. Chris realizes that his advice for Tom might not have worked out but it's okay to make mistakes. In the end, he does rebuild his confidence and he decides to accept April's offer. He's going to be a dad now.

The final plot has to do with April and Ann. Ann is trying to distract herself from Chris' indecision. Her savior inadvertently becomes April. April is applying to veterinary school and wants Ann to write her a letter of recommendation. Ann only agrees if April sends the whole week with her as they pretend to be best friends. Ann is trying to get April to like her but it's really a way for her to escape thinking about what Chris is going to tell her. The week goes by and the two actually seem to bond. Ann hands April a nice recommendation letter and April gives Ann a great present about naming babies. It's a nice gesture that shows that the two of them might finally start to become friends. They might not get each but that's what this show is really about: a group of people who don't have anything in common creating close bonds with each other.

Bailout was a great and hilarious episode of Parks and Recreation. It had a great main plot where Ron and Leslie had a conflict over their politics before finding the middle ground. The sub-plots were great as April and Ann's relationship grew while Chris got the confidence he needed to be a dad. Of course, this was an episode that was all about the small victories even amongst grand failures. That final gag with the porn parody was simply genius. Overall, Bailout is a highlight amongst an already strong season.

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