Parks and Recreation: Of PCP and Gingerbread Men

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When I heard the title of Parks and Recreations’ Christmas episode was “Citizen Knope,” an actual chill ran down my spine: Were we about get a Citizen Kane spoof retelling Leslie’s rise to the top of local small-town government in Indiana, as a tenacious reporter sought to discover the meaning of her very last words, “Lil’ Sebastian?” Then it dawned on me that this was Parks and Recreation, not Community, and nothing of the sort was going to happen. And who needs spoofs when you have the kind of tender, weird, hilarious comedy that Parks delivers every week?

It’s been a while since we’ve checked in with these guys. Leslie and Ben came clean with their romance, which led Ben to lose his job and Leslie to be handed a two-week suspension. But keeping Leslie away from performing her civic duties is like keeping a Starbucks barista away from the button on the big coffee machine that makes lattes: It’s simply not meant to be! Chris intercepted her as she tried to make off with a flash drive filled with her files. A chase ensued, though Chris was outfitted in BumbleFlex technology, rendering Leslie no match.

Meanwhile, the Pawnee parks and rec staff were reminiscing about the brilliant gifts Leslie gets them each year—Ron actually teared up thinking about his remote controlled door-slammers—and they put their minds toward making Leslie something equally thoughtful in return. (Side note: April’s gift was a poster depicting her tearing the heads off The Black Eyed Peas. On The Office, Robert California also dissed The Black Eyed Peas. TrendAlert! NBC comedies hate The Black Eyed Peas.) The team came up with the idea to build a scale model of the offices, but out of gingerbread. Miraculously, a marshmallow Ron Swanson was born shortly thereafter, like the Christ child.

Leslie was informed by her campaign advisers (who she can’t quite pinpoint, religion- or sexuality-wise) that she was polling at 1 percent, and despite Leslie’s Pollyanna spirit—she compared the situation to the last sip of a milkshake at the bottom of the metal container—they told her the campaign is over. Similarly discouraged was Ben, who applied for a job being an accountant at an accounting firm—snore to the power of snore. Leslie encouraged him not to jump on it if it wasn’t exactly what he wanted; later, he was given some unlikely second-hand words of wisdom, from Jean-Ralphio’s Brazilian waxer: “She told me, ‘If you don’t love what you do, then why do it?’ Then she ripped the hair from my b-hole.’”

Elsewhere, Leslie tried to accomplish things from the other side of the town hall meetings: She formed a political action group called PCP (Parks Committee of Pawnee), and faced off with Jerry and Donna at a rec center improvements hearing, where she described the absence of a Yahtzee set as “a tragedy on par with human trafficking.”

In the end, Ben passed on the job and Leslie, discouraged, returned to the office to work, her suspension lifted. There she was presented with the fabulous gingerbread offices, and Ron, frustrated that he wasn’t proficient in building with cookies, made his own gift: A model of the city council chambers in wood, with a little Leslie seated in it. The group revealed a sign: “LESLIE KNOPE for City Council” and everybody stepped forward to announce their jobs as part of her new campaign team. (Well, everybody but Jerry: “You guys didn’t tell me we were doing this!” Poor Jerry.) And that was it—Leslie’s spirit had not been broken! She had only just begun!

All in all, an excellent episode of one of the sweetest comedies on TV. I also appreciated that the show didn’t make us choke on the Christmas imagery—it was just subtly there in the background. What did you think?

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