Parks and Recreation Season 6 Premiere Review: Bust Out the Scotch and Cigars, There's Big News in Pawnee
Remember way back in the beginning when Parks and Recreation was terrible? Thank God those days are behind us, because I count on its goofiness to bring light to my life. The series is consistently funny and heartwarming in a way that few other shows are. As a good friend reminded me today, it's the kind of program that will heal the broken heart that Breaking Bad has ripped out of your chest, set on fire, fed to a dog, picked out of the dog's "eliminations," and then deposited in a dumpster. Parks and Recreation is the antidote to all the anti-hero dramas that fill the TV schedule these days. And I'm so glad it's back. So let's talk about it!
A lot happened in the mostly London-set one-hour premiere. Ron found out that he's going to be a father ("Standard birth control methods aren't usually effective against a Swanson") and then he got married to Diane "Tammy" Lewis (her real middle name is Elizabeth, but it was quite funny to see her fake him out for a second). The nuptials took place on the fourth floor of the Parks Dept. building, in record time, with Leslie and April as witnesses. And that was before the opening credits!
Also on the episode's docket: Leslie won an international award for women in politics that April had nominated her for, and the whole gang flew to London for the ceremony. Chris and Ann broke the news to everyone that they're pregnant, to mixed reactions. Ben and Andy met with a British version of Andy (Peter Serafinowicz!) about helping with their after-school music charity. And finally, we found out that Henry Winkler is behind the knock-off Rent-a-Swag that opened across the street from the OG.
But let's back up a minute and discuss the most important thing that happened tonight. The people of Pawnee were still dead set on recalling Leslie from office, because the entire town is, as Leslie so eloquently put it, "full of pee-pee heads." (Maybe they'd be nicer to her if her face was as symmetrical as guest-star Heidi Klum's?) Leslie has dedicated her life to Pawnee, and it's let down down time and time again. It was time for Leslie to have a breakdown.
The main reason everyone (meaning characters like Ron and Ben, as well as fans of the show like you and me) loves Leslie is that she's optimistic about everything. And there aren't many people like her. There are definitely more Ron Swansons than Leslie Knopes in this world. Leslie is the type of person who attacks problems and challenges with a smile on her face, always ready with a backup plan if her first three ideas fail. But of course, no one can be that happy and perky in the face of constant derision and foul attitudes. In fact, I'd have been upset if the personal attacks on Leslie hadn't bothered her. So I appreciated that she didn't feel bad about calling the town out in her speech, because she knew that the people of Pawnee were the problem, not her. And yet, by the time she returned to Pawnee, there she was, back to her normal self, helping rid that woman's yard of slugs because she still cares about Pawnee even if its residents don't care about her. Leslie Knope is better than all of us.
Of course, on the opposite side of the spectrum tonight was Ron Swanson, who got married while showing hardly any emotion, who hated nearly every second he spent breathing air that was "filled with the foul stench of European socialism," but who giggled at a postcard that said "London at night" over a plain black background (disclaimer: I totally own a postcard like that from someplace else and it still makes me laugh). He also teared up after Leslie sent him on a United Kingdom treasure hunt that ended at the Lagavulin distillery off the coast of Scotland. Even though she was beaten down by the people of Pawnee, Leslie still found a way to be there for her friend and present him with the perfect wedding gift, and that's her true strength. Which, as we learned from the letter April sent to the award committee on Leslie's behalf, is really the reason Leslie won her award in the first place.
The rest of the Parks Department was off living mini B- and C-stories this week, from Ben and Andy meeting with Eddie (who turned out to be the British version of Andy) about their charity to Tom tracking down Jean-Ralphio and Mona Lisa's father as the mastermind behind his competition. Henry Winkler was hilarious in the role, and I do hope we'll see more of him this season—I think there's a good chance, considering he's also Ann's doctor and she and Chris are now expecting a baby. Speaking of, we know their departure is coming in a few months' time, but how do you think they'll be written out of the show? Hit the comments with your ideas!
In the end, this premiere did exactly what every other episode of Parks and Recreation (after Seasons 1 and 2) has done before it: It made us laugh, it made us tear up, but most importantly, it made us realize we never, ever want to live in Pawnee, Indiana. Because those people are dicks.
– Andy's going to be staying in London for three months to help his new BFF get their charity up and running. This is also known as an interesting way to write Andy out of Parks and Rec for a bit while Chris Pratt shoots Guardians of the Galaxy (in fact, the reason the gang was in London at all was because Pratt was shooting the movie there, so the writers found a way to take the show to him).
– The joke about Andy being not so doughy anymore—he stopped drinking beer and lost 50 pounds in one month—was a nice little nod to Pratt's beefed-up physique for the film.
– Please let the record show that we all saw Ron Swanson cry at the end. You big softie, Ron.
– Ron's middle name is Ulysses. Is this the first time the show has mentioned this, or have I just been slacking on my Ron Swanson trivia?
– "Ann, you cunning, pliable, chestnut-haired sunfish."
– "Hogwarts is fictional. Do you know that? It's important to me that you know that."
– "History began on July 4, 1776. Everything before that was a mistake."
– "Look, a clock. We don't have that in America." — Ron talking about Big Ben
– "Enjoy the fact that your royal overlords are a frail old woman and a tiny baby."
– "[April] nominated Ann for Motocross Driver of the Year award just so she could get a rejection letter."
What'd you think of the season premiere?
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