Parks and Recreation "How a Bill Becomes a Law" Review: A Little Help from Leslie's Frizz-ends...

Parks and Recreation S05E03: “How a Bill Becomes a Law”

If Pawnee is a microcosm for our country, then Leslie be its patriot, the one who always does what is right. Who lives and breathes to serve her constituents. But this week, Leslie realized that sometimes to get what you want, you have to compromise and even shake hands with the devil, or a dentist. Or walk down the hall to use the bathroom. As Leslie’s mine-laden journey into the murky inner workings of Pawnee politics continued, we saw her idealism become frazzled, even a bit frizzy, but she did what she had to do to get the job done. Leslie was not above a little self-sacrifice if it meant the greater good would be achieved. But others were sacrificed, too (more on that later).

When Chris started seeing a therapist (which I hope we get to see at some point!) he turned over a leaf, he admitted that he could not go it alone. Perfection may be his goal, but it will not be achieved in a vacuum. And when he delved into himself, he found not only some clarity, but also new ways to govern! Enter the 3-1-1 line: a direct line for Pawnee's citizens to call in and find help. Ron, Donna, and Jerry did their best fielding calls, sort of. But this being government, the bureaucracy actually worked against the people, until Ron decided to cut out the middle man and solve one problem himself, a pothole. Because Ron is a man, and that is what men do, they fix holes.

But when Ron and Andy went to do the job, Ron met a woman, Diane (Lucy Lawless), who might just be the next Tammy. Ron is a pillar of steel. It seems nothing can shake him. He has always professed to need no help with anything. But maybe, it was his time to have a partner in crime. Ron just might need to date the female version of himself, if he is ever to find love. And Xena just may be the ticket.

But like the ancient proverb said: “You can’t just get half a perm.” No, I’m sure Confucius or Dylan or somebody important once said that. Anyway, when Leslie decided to celebrate her first big councilwoman win, prematurely, with a perm, she got derailed by the rogue dentist councilman who wanted to kill her bill. So half permed, but with a full head of steam, she did what any politician would do: Displaced her own moral center in order to sway an old racist perv’s vote. Go democracy!

If last week’s episode, "Soda Tax," felt like a true return to silly form, "How a Bill Becomes a Law" seemed to stray from the silly a bit too much. Although I always enjoy everyone’s antics, this was the weakest episode of the new season thus far. I still think it is because the show has fractured what works, i.e.: April and Andy. You need the sweet with the sour. I miss them together. I feel like a broken record for saying it again, but there it is. Parks and Rec works best when all the characters cross paths frenetically. Having April and Ben stuck in a car for the whole episode seemed forced. As if the writers have no idea how to get them back in the mix.

But if anything, we can always walk away from this show with a little lesson learned, like it's some cracked version of one of Aesop’s fables. This week we learned that sometimes we have to look outside ourselves for help. That we can’t do everything alone and sometimes, asking for help can be our strongest choice.


Talking Points


– Where the heck was Ann Perkins this week? Did you miss her?

– Do you think Ron will ask Diane to change her name to Tammy?

– Who else misses Andy and April sharing the screen?

– Perm or no perm for Leslie?

– Was it just me or did Joan Calleamezzo look particularly cuckoo?

Parks and Rec "How a Bill Becomes a Law" Photos

Comments (25)
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Ron is amazing! I love this show, and it definitely has shades of Arrested Development (my all time favourite) as someone else commented. I think Rob Lowe is under appreciated as Chris - his characterisation is superb and although the character can be really irritating he is important, particularly in the way he provides counter-point to and challenges Ron. Ann wasn't needed in this episode so I didn't miss her, though normally she serves an important function. I miss Andy & April together, but her scenes with Ben were great and they are both really coming into their own being slightly apart from the main cast. Love love LOVE Parks & Rec!
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My favorite line from this episode, "I don't negotiate with dentists" It's subtle silly stuff like that that Parks and Recreation is so good at, great episode as usual, I didn't even notice Ann was gone until you mentioned it, I don't mind her but the show wouldn't suffer if she left either.
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I do not like Ann Perkins or Chris. Loved it when Leslie was pushed in the pool and then got worried, "oh, my perm!" ha!
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Loved Ron this episode. But i love Ron almost always. Agree with the comment on Xena. Definitely hotter now. The Star Trek fanfiction was hilarious. Ben and April play really well together. Adam Scott is the man with a thousand face expressions. He is just great, and his subtle acting is just astonishing. I missed Anne, she is such a delight and grounds the show a little bit. Kind of what Michael was for Arrested Development. Now to the really important part. Leslies perm. I adore Amy Poehler but man, she can't pull off a perm. It was horrifying and thus hilarious.
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Ann grounds the show because she is the only true "straight-man" on the show, that I can think of. All of the other ones also have that goofy element to them (Ron, Ben) which makes them not entirely "grounded". As forgettable as she is, I think the show kind of needs her.
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that was xena?! she has gotten hotter with age.

also i liked this episode.
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I didn't even realize Rashida Jones was missing from the show. That doesn't say much for her character Ann. Yet it has been three years since Paul Schneider aka Mark Brendanawicz exited the show and I miss his character every episode and Ann was just missing from one episode wow I don't care when she get's back. I do have to say I love the Leslie Perm just beautiful!
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Nope, I did not miss Ann at all.



I loved how Andy got giddy over Ron and Diane. :)



Yes, I miss April and Andy together. But if they were together, I would have missed out on his care package (from previous episode) containing a picture of him wearing a red bandanna for underwear. One good thing came up with Ben and April together though... "Benji's Cool Times Summer Jamz Mix" featured "Shoop". :D



"The perm must wait!"



There's something off with Joan's hair. It looked like a huge wig to me.
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P&R is mostly filler-watch for me, having said that, I LOL'd at April and Ben screaming in the car. And I smiled big when Tom pushed Councilman Dentist in the pool, even though it was pretty obvious it would happen, yet still satisfying.



I'm glad Ron might hook up with Xena, because I'd love to see Xena scare off Tammy #2. I used to work with a guy that began dating an Amazon so his crazy ex would finally quit messing with him - it worked too LOL
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I loved this episode especially leslie's hair (had a total 80's vibe)! Just kind of wish that they showed more scenes of Ben and April going insane in the car and I also wish that Lucy Lawless did more stuff (because she can be really funny) hopefully she'll appear and do stuff in a couple more episodes. And being a school principle means she could potentially run into Leslie and cause her problems/team up for something.

Totally didnt notice that Ann wasn't in the episode, she isnt my favorite character so i didnt miss her at all.

"Was it just me or did Joan Calleamezzo look particularly cuckoo?"

I didnt think Mo Collins looked "cockoo" I just thought she looked different cuz shes lost weight. Anyone else notice or is that just me?
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Leslie's half perm was crippling.
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I know this is a comedy and not a drama, but it seemed that they were hinting at a Ben and April romantic connection!
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I would not be surprised if they revealed Diane's middle name is Tammy or that Diane is her middle name.
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I liked seeing the pairings this week. Ron and Andy are always hilarious together. I loved seeing Andy with the little girls. Leslie and Tom were at odds at first, but ended up helping each other. Ben and April are really funny together. I think Diane will be good for Ron. A jr. high principal that doesn't take any crap? She's just what he needs.
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I liked seeing the pairings this week. Ron and Andy are always hilarious together. I loved seeing Andy with the little girls. Leslie and Tom were at odds at first, but ended up helping each other. Ben and April are really funny together. I think Diane will be good for Ron. A jr. high principal that doesn't take any crap? She's just what he needs.
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I didn't recognize Xena until the credits. The fact that she wasn't a brunette did it. She's like Superman only she just has to dye her hair a different color instead of wear glasses.
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I pretty much loved everything about this episode, including April and Ben in the car. Their parts were so hilarious!!! I do miss April and Andy together, but they're so funny that even when they're apart, around the right people, they can be funny too. Ron and Andy at time had me falling on the floor laughing, especially when they were covered in makeup!!! LOL!!!!



Leslie's half-hair hazard was so freaking funny!!!



Didn't miss Ann because everybody else kept me laughing.



This show hasn't missed a beat with me. I love it!!!
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I loved the Ron & Xena stuff. Excited to see where they take it.



Did anyone else feel like they were dropping a hint of a Ben + April romance?
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To me it just felt more like they bonded and kind of became friends and that Ben got more comfortable with her and isn't terrified of her (as much) anymore..BUT in the interview that TV.com did with them she said something about Ben having "a wandering eye" with regards to April so...you're probably right. But without seeing that interview I wouldn't have thought that.
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K-i-s-s-i-s-s-i-p-p-i had me in stiches. Chris Pratt is hilarious, and he did . And I love Andy and April together, but I think April and Ben are quite fun as well. And I thought the silliness was just right this episode, too. Thought the Ron and Diane thing was just slow and deliberately played enough.
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Unlike your view, I thought this was one of the best episodes they've ever done, and the main reason was Ron. He is an episode in himself sometimes, or should be, and he was hysterically funny in this one. I hope Diane stays with the show because they seem so much alike in many ways. I do miss April and Ben, and wish they were back. Didn't miss Ann at all, and wish Tom would go on vaca because anymore he's just filler, and annoying at that. .Leslie was in rare form in this epi, and I'm really looking forward to more fun in store for us..
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didn't really miss Ann, but I really miss April and Andy together! I liked the April and Ben stuff that they threw in though
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didn't miss ann perkins at all
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I think the April&Ben-in-a-car storyline was actually one of the best things about this episode. Really funny dynamic between the two of them. And, of course, Andy gleefully dressing up as a princess and playing with Xena's daughters before drawing Ron into his madness. Classic P&R.
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Ann Perkins was presumably promoting her presumably excellent movie. Or maybe Tom just worked better for the storyline.
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