The Telefile
<i>Parks and Recreation</i>: Who Made the Comedy Grade Last Night?

Unlike Ben Wyatt, I was never in Model UN, but I imagine that throwing the Parks & Rec cast into this situation would be much funnier to me if I had been. Also, I, like Andy, would probably just sell all of my country's most valuable assets for everyone else's lions. In any event, as a non-UN-er, I still thought "The Treaty" was better executed than Community's similarly themed episode because I was actually able to comprehend exactly what goes on at one of these wacky things.

Now that that's out of the way, I have an unpopular opinion that I'm trying to procrastinate sharing: After seeing Leslie and Ben painfully interact last night, and mulling over the fact that this is one of the most accurate depictions of a break up I've ever seen on TV (let alone on a comedy), I've decided that I don't want them to get back together. I realize that every other week I've whined about how badly I wanted them to reunite, but the beauty of Parks and Recreation (or Tommy's Place, as I'm tempted to now call it) is that the writers are just so damn good at grounding relationships in reality -- and in real life, I don't think Ben and Leslie would get back together. There's too much at stake for Leslie's career, and Ben deserves better than that. Both characters are well aware of this fact, and (hopefully I'm not just projecting) I think that maybe they really won't ever be a couple again. I'm kind of worried that in episodes to come, Chris will fall for Ann again, change the Pawnee City Council ethics code (or whatever) so that anyone can date whoever they want and everything will work out perfectly... after all, isn't that kind of where we're heading with those two?

I'd also like to throw in the fact that it could be great if they got back together in a way that didn't hurt anyone's careers or integrity. Look how happy Andy and April are! Look at Jim and Pam in The Office -- their relationship wasn't the beginning of the downfall of that show... right? Eek, I don't know. I'm feeling stressed about this. Let's just give everyone a grade, quote the best lines of the night and wait to see how this all plays out.

Tom: A-
Here's one evitable thing that happened last night that I didn't dislike: Tom's back in the Parks & Rec department! The slapstick comedy between he and Ron was highly appreciated, and I love that he made Leslie do his re-introduction to the office.
Best Line of the Night: "There's a Macy's in town? Where's the Macy's in town? I heard they have an amazing cologne sample guy."

Ron: A
Another A, for all of the same reasons above -- and because Ron was amazing at keeping a straight face when interviewing all of those awful job candidates. The sandpaper on the toenails was funny too, but I'm glad Swanson actually got a real storyline this week, even if it was a B plot.
Best Line of the Night: "He said he liked ethnic girls, Tom."

Chris: C
This was an average Chris episode and he didn't do anything to particularly bother me. And hey, if trouble in paradise for Chris and Millicent means that Donna gets to be in an episode, I'm all for it.
Best Line of the Night: "Sarcasm again! You're a delight."

Ann: B+
Ann makes for a truly excellent sarcastic ex-girlfriend. Everything that came out of her mouth worked for me, and her relationship with Chris once again demonstrated the writers' strength at creating realistic exes.
Best Line of the Night: "Jogging is the worst, Chris."

Jerry and Donna: N/A
I don't even know how I'm supposed to grade Jerry anymore. How crappy he was treated in any given episode? This was in no way a bad week for Jerry, relatively speaking, but he didn't do much beside ask to go back to work... at a real desk. And while Donna is my girl, she didn't really have a role in all of this either, except to be disappointed by the lack of sexiness in Chris and Ann's stories, and that they didn't talk enough about tantric workshop they went to.

Andy: B
Is Andy really talented at anything? In It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Charlie is an idiot, but really musically gifted. I'd love to see a reveal that Andy is actually a secret genius, and I thought for a moment we were about to get that this week when he starting talking about Camp David. At least it made for a good gag... and again, the lions thing got me every time.
Best Line of the Night: "The bad guys from Mighty Ducks 2? I don't think so. [...] The bad guys from Karate Kid 2? Even worse. How 'bout Germany? They've never been the bad guys."

April: A
"The Treaty" used April absolutely perfectly: Of course she would only participate in the Model UN if he got to be the Moon. She served as both comic relief in tense times, and was a shoulder for Leslie to cry on. If I were participating that day at Pawnee Central High School, I would totally join the Coalition of the Living -- Denmark, Botswana and the Moon ("The Big Three").
Best Line of the Night: [In response to Leslie: "I hate it here. I can't wait to graduate."] "Yeah, but summer's totally gonna kick ass."

Leslie: B+
We've had a lot of Leslie going crazy episodes lately, so her performance was a bit repetitive for me last night. She was funny (every time she "spoke" French to Madame Ambassador, "What are you going to do without tides, Peru?") and self-aware about being really awesome, but there was a point during the UN meeting where I thought, "Are we really having an episode where the gang shows up somewhere random and takes total control of it for their personal drama?" The whole thing was a little conventional for me, but still has some pretty hilarious moments. I take point away from her grade for ditching Ben for her photo op, though for what it's worth, it made the episode better.
Best Line of the Night: "The only thing I will be hanging is your decapitated head on a stick in front of your weeping mother."

Ben: A-
Ben showed a great mix of being flirt, sad (and taking "really long sadness baths"), jealous, bitter and having a once-dream of getting Kathy Ireland to do naked aerobics for him. When he called Leslie "obtuse," did anyone else think of The Shawshank Redemption and worry that he was going to get thrown in solitary confinement? No? Whatever, shut up, Bulgaria.
Best Line of the Night: "I kind of want to roll up my sleeves and make geopolitical problem-solving my bitch."

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