Parks and Recreation
Episode 21: Swing Vote
By: Carlos Uribe
Parks and Recreation is a show about Pawnee's parks and recreation department and a town councilwoman named Leslie Knope.
It is no secret that Leslie and Ron fundamentally disagree on the role of government. Ron believes that there should basically be as little government as possible. He might be in charge of the parks department but he would gladly gut it whole if it were up to him. Leslie believes that government can be a force of good in people's lives. She thinks that it's the duty of the city government to provide as many services to it's people. The two occasionally clash but they've largely been able to remain friends. This episode tests that limit when Ron proposes to the city council that they slash the budget for the city's mini-golf. He doesn't believe that the game should be subsidized by the taxpayers as it's a waste of money. Leslie disagrees as she thinks the game is a lot of fun and it brings joy to Pawnee residents. Leslie quickly figures out that the vote is going to be a tie. The person who breaks that tie, the swing vote, is going to be Jamm. The two try their best to convince him to vote for their side. Jamm doesn't know which way he's going to lean. He hates both Ron and Leslie, he likes to cut budgets, but he also likes mini-golf. His indecision means that Leslie tries her best to please him before losing a golf game to Ron for the vote. She's angry because Ron's principles frustrate her but she forgives him when Jamm is willing to go back on his word to make a deal. Ron's principles might be annoying, or even wrong, but at least he has them. The plot then ends with what is basically Parks and Recreation's message to the world: why can't people who disagree just be friends at the end of the day? People will disagree on issues but in the end we all have the right to our opinions. It's a pretty good plot that places Leslie vs. Ron in their politics and in the end respect wins out. Ron might have cutted the budget for the mini-golf but Leslie plans to save it later.
Mona Lisa is a crazy chick to date and Tom has finally had enough. Only he doesn't know to break up with her and live so he enlists the help of Ann. He's able to buy her will by offering her a blanket. Ann is able to get Mona Lisa to break up with Tom but then finds herself as Mona Lisa's new best friend. Ann quickly figures out that Tom really meant that Mona Lisa is crazy so she has Tom to get Mona Lisa away from her. This all doesn't really work and by the end of the episode the status quo is maintained. Tom is back to dating Mona Lisa and spends a crazy night of love-making with her. He doesn't get his three-some but he does get hurt it was so intense. Ann doesn't even her her blanket as Tom puts too many rules for it to be any fun. Overall, the plot was funny but it felt like it didn't even matter. Nothing changed.
Just like nothing really changed in the band plot. Andy is shocked to learn when he sees his band Mouse Rat playing without him. He gets jealous to the point where he plays a solo where he breaks down in the middle of the stage. He decides to give up music and grow up which involves wearing a suit and carrying around Ben's briefcase. He does get offered a spot back on the band. That's basically all that happens. Andy is still one of the lead singers in Mouse Rat. I guess it's a small change that there's another lead singer but I don't consider that a big enough advancement to actually matter. While the other two plots were consistently funny, I found this plot to be mixed. I liked Andy's song but his nachos joke and the whole “call me” bit didn't really work as well. I get Andy is not the brightest bulb in the wagon but let's not make him too stupid to live.
Swing Vote is a totally inconsequential episode of Parks and Recreation. I don't mean this as a bad thing as nothing of significance happened this week. Ron and Leslie might have been at odds but in the end of the day Jamm remained the antagonist and the two remained friends. Tom might have wanted to break up with Mona Lisa but he ended up sleeping with her instead. Andy temporarily lost his place on Mouse Rat but they allowed him back into the band as lead singer when he promised to melt the nachos. You could miss this episode and the only thing you would miss are the laughs. Because while this may not have been an important episode plot-wise, it was still a pretty funny one. Swing Vote is a good episode of Parks and Recreation.