TV Time: Parks and Recreation 5.11

Title Women in Garbage

Two-Sentence Summary Leslie and April attempt to tackle the rampant sexism in the Pawnee government, beginning with the sanitation department. Meanwhile, Tom attempts to learn how to play basketball in order to appeal to his Rent-A-Swag demographic, and Ron attempts to watch Diane’s daughters.

Favorite Line “I LOVE NOTHING!” (Ron)

My Thoughts Although this wasn’t a groundbreaking or standout episode of Parks and Rec, it was still plenty of fun. Leslie’s impassioned feminist side is always something I’m happy to see explored, and it created some great moments of satire in this episode. I’m also always happy to see Ron grow and develop as a character, which he did in a big way. However, these two great storylines made the Tom/Andy/Ben basketball plot feel a little thin. There just wasn’t enough time for it to develop into something as hilarious as it could have been. But, to quote the great Meat Loaf, “Two outta three ain’t bad.”

The way this episode directly tackled sexism in politics was a real treat for a feminist like myself. I loved the parallels between Leslie’s struggles and those of Hillary Clinton as well as the infamous all-male panel debating reproductive rights and Mitt Romney’s “binders full of women.” The writers dealt with these very real issues in a funny but pointed manner. I laughed, but at the same time, I hoped that people were paying attention. It may have been satire, but it’s not too far from the truth.

There were some fantastic details in this storyline: The male councilmen keeping track of Leslie’s menstrual cycle, the man who mistook Chris for a woman because of his beautiful face, April’s very in-character love for garbage, Leslie attempting to sneak up on the refrigerator, and Leslie posing for Google Earth pictures were some of my personal favorites.

Most of all, though, I loved that Leslie was able to prove something very important: There are different kinds of strength. Was Leslie physically strong enough to move the refrigerator by herself? No. But it turns out neither were the men. However, was she strong enough in terms of her resources, generosity, and cunning to get the job done? Heck yes. Leslie is such a great role model for young women because she’s strong in a realistic way. She doesn’t fistfight with bad guys or beat up villains; she uses her brains rather than her brawn, and that’s usually enough for her to be the most capable person of either gender in the room. Leslie Knope is a kind of strong that I can relate to, a kind of strong I can aspire to be.

Ron’s storyline was also a very strong one. If there’s one thing I will never get tired of on Parks and Rec…it’s Ben and Leslie being adorable. If there are two things I will never get tired of, the other is definitely Ron attempting to interact with children. He’s so wonderfully awkward with them, and it was great seeing Ann be wonderfully awkward too. Not every woman is instinctively great with children, and that’s a reality that isn’t shown enough in the media but was used to great comedic effect here. Ultimately, I loved that Ann found a way to relate to the girls through her job. And if you didn’t smile during the “Ron loves mommy!” scene, you are made of stone. I never thought I would say this, but Ron Swanson is downright adorable with Diane. They have a great natural chemistry, and I hope to see so much more of them in the future because this is a side of Ron that I’m really loving.

As I said earlier, for as good as the A and B-plots were this week, the C-plot was a weak link. I was just expecting so much more from Ben in sports goggles, Andy playing with kids, and Tom being athletically inept. It was funny, but I think it was too rushed to really hit it out of the park. All of the elements were there, but it fell a little flat for me—or at least flatter than I wanted it to.

All in all, this was a fun episode of Parks and Rec. It wasn’t the best, but it had some strong moments and some genuine laughs. I’d say it was an average episode, which for this show is still pretty fantastic.


5 thoughts on “TV Time: Parks and Recreation 5.11

  1. I actually LOVED the basketball side plot. I know there was barely a plot, but these characters are strong enough that I think it’s fun sometimes to just let them out to play. I’d watch a whole episode of Tom failing at basketball, Andy crashing into walls, and Ben wearing goggles. (Actually, I’d watch 30 minutes of just Adam Scott in elastic goggles, no questions asked.) But I get what you’re saying about how it didn’t really do anything new for any of them as characters, and for a show that’s constantly giving its people real life stories, it was a bit of a change of pace! Just not one I minded, I guess 🙂
    And I’m with you on your favorite line. Ron loves Mommy, Ron loves Mommy, Ron loves Mommy!!!! YESSSSS.

    • I think my biggest problem with the basketball plot was that it wasn’t a whole episode of their hijinks—or at least a bigger part of an episode. It felt kind of shoehorned in to me, when I think it could have been so much more epic. But my biggest (and usually only) complaint with Parks and Rec is that it isn’t an hour, and I’m greedy when it comes to these characters. 😉

      • That’s so true–it was great, but it was kind of like the whole subplot was in apostrophes. Good point!
        I WOULD LOVE AN HOUR-LONG PARKS AND REC. It would be so much better than most of what’s on TV. Just like half-hour Parks and Rec is 🙂

  2. I loved this episode. I love that the fact that Leslie is a feminist isn’t ridiculed or seen as a bad thing. She’s a strong woman who believes in the potential of other women and who also sees that sexism is still a problem and wants to do what she can to fix it. So often, media in all forms shows feminism as being comprised of angry, man-hating women and this show has never done that, which I appreciate.

    Ron’s storyline was my favorite of the episode though. Ron has grown so much as a character since he started dating Diane. He’s still Ron (his “I love nothing” statement showed that particularly well) but we’ve seen so much more of the softer side of him this season. Also in that storyline, Ann Perkins once again proved how similar we are, because I am also that awkward with children.

    The basketball subplot wasn’t nearly as strong as the other two, but I liked that it was still included. Leslie’s sent an important message and Ron’s was a big step forward for his character, so I liked the balance that Tom being completely ridiculous provided. I love that he wanted to take an extra step to appeal to his customers more and I love that while he failed at basketball, he still managed to promote Rent-A-Swag.

    • “So often, media in all forms shows feminism as being comprised of angry, man-hating women and this show has never done that, which I appreciate.”

      YES. One of my favorite things about Parks and Rec is that it respects feminists for who we really are and what we really want. Leslie isn’t a cliched caricature of a feminist; she’s positive, empowering, and supportive of people of all genders, and she fights sexism with determined optimism. She’s one of the strongest women on TV, and I love that she’s celebrated for that.

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