TV Time: Parks and Recreation 5.21

Title Swing Vote

Two-Sentence Summary Leslie and Ron fight over the funding of a Pawnee miniature golf course, and both attempt to win Councilman Jamm to their side. Meanwhile, Tom tries to end is relationship with Mona-Lisa, and Andy contemplates quitting music.

Favorite Line “Well, math is worthless in real life. There’s an app for calculating tips—that’s all you need. [Quietly] Math is really important, especially for young women. Stay in school.” (Leslie)

My Thoughts After both of last week’s thoroughly enjoyable episodes of Parks and Rec, this week’s episode was a bit of a letdown. While it did have some genuinely funny moments and one scene guaranteed to tug at the heartstrings (or maybe just mine because I’m a sucker for Leslie and Ron’s relationship), the major plotlines in this episode didn’t seem to lead to any new ground or reveal anything new about these characters. This week’s episode featured a lot of “been there, done that” storytelling, which, while still ultimately entertaining, didn’t do much for me as a viewer.

While I do love Leslie and Ron’s friendship, I’m growing a little tired of their “conflicting ideologies” storylines. I thought it fell flat in “Bailout,” and it didn’t feel any fresher or more interesting in “Swing Vote.” The addition of Jamm to their storyline did nothing for me but make it worse. I had really hoped we would be rid of him after “Ben and Leslie.” While he sometimes gets funny lines, I don’t find him an interesting character. His unnecessary meanness clashes too much with the overall tone of the show. In terms of antagonists, I think last season did a much better job creating characters I cared about to work against Leslie. Jamm still feels like a character that is too one-dimensional for a show of this quality.

Although I didn’t find myself all that interested in Ron and Leslie’s story this week, I did love their scene at the end of the episode. Maybe I’m just reading too much A Song of Ice and Fire lately (Ben Wyatt would be proud of me), but Leslie talking about Ron’s code of honor and then living up to her own code of honor was very touching. There’s such a sense of respect between these two characters, and that says something so refreshing about political differences in a world where conflicting ideologies can often lead people to do horrible things to each other. Just because you may not agree with someone, it doesn’t mean you can’t respect their opinion. That’s one of my favorite things this show preaches.

I was intrigued by Ron’s words to Leslie about politics being a world that frequently feels dirty and dishonorable. I wonder what this means for the optimistic, bright-eyed, and principled Leslie as the show goes on (hopefully for at least one more season). Is this world of backroom deals, broken promises, and cynicism right for her? I still think it is. Politics needs people like Leslie Knope to keep it from falling further into morally reprehensible territory. Leslie gets things done, but she does things the right way. And that’s why Parks and Rec is such an uplifting show. Sometimes Leslie fails (like this week), but we never doubt that she did all she could while still maintaining her sense of right and wrong. And that’s what makes her story worth watching.

The meeting of Leslie’s idealism with the dirty side of politics was the only thing in this episode that really meant anything in terms of character development. Andy’s story began and ended within the half-hour, and it wasn’t a particularly engrossing story (though I did love seeing April be so supportive of his passion). Ben didn’t do much of anything (except throw perfect reaction shots to the cameras). Ann and Chris didn’t even have one scene together after the big changes in their relationship that occurred last week. And Tom’s storyline actually revolved around his inability to move his story forward by breaking up with Mona-Lisa. I sincerely hope this was the last we see of her. While I love any and all appearances by Jean-Ralphio, his sister was better as a one-episode wonder.

This was probably one of my least-favorite episodes of this season of Parks and Rec, mainly because it didn’t do much of anything. It was an enjoyable hour of television, but it wasn’t anything special in the way the best episodes of this show are.


2 thoughts on “TV Time: Parks and Recreation 5.21

  1. I though it was a bit of a letdown too. Mona Lisa is beyond irritating and Jamm can be funny, but only in small doses. He’s been on WAY too much the back half of this season. And I think the ep also suffered without any Ben/Leslie scenes. Even one scene with the two of them together would have increased by enjoyment of it.

    • I agree with everything you said! I always say that Ben/Leslie scenes make every episode better, so I really wish this episode had at least one little moment between them. While I love almost everything about this show, it’s their interaction that really makes the show special to me.

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