TV Time: Parks and Recreation 6.17

Leslie Ann 617

Title Galentine’s Day

Two-Sentence Summary Leslie’s hosts an impromptu Galentine’s Day brunch to try to find a replacement for Ann, only to find herself learning from new-mom Ann that she has room in her heart for many female friends—even if none of them can ever fill Ann’s shoes. Meanwhile, Ron helps Andy after the latter knocks out his own tooth, and Ben discovers that he genuinely likes Jerry/Larry.

Favorite Lines
Leslie: Now it’s lady time.
April: You sound like a tampon commercial.

My Thoughts No television show honors friendship with the same honesty, warmth, and sense of importance as Parks and Recreation. If “Ann and Chris” was this season’s love letter to friendship, then “Galentine’s Day,” was the perfect little P.S. to that letter. And it had the added bonus of not making me weep into my sweatshirt sleeve like “Ann and Chris” did. Instead, “Galentine’s Day” was one of Parks and Rec’s funniest episodes of the season.

Besides being primarily about friendship, there was another uniting factor between “Ann and Chris” and “Galentine’s Day”: Neither episode was burdened with Leslie’s career struggles. These episodes were about character-driven stories rather than plot-driven ones, and that’s always been when Parks and Rec is at its best.

The unity concert was still a springboard for the action in one part of this episode, but it was Ben, Tom, and Jerry/Larry (Seriously, what should I call him?) who took the reins in that storyline instead of Leslie. And the plot didn’t even matter very much. Yes, the fedora bits with Tom were funny, and the tent company names were even funnier. (My favorite? Tent Offensive) But the real reason those three characters were put in a storyline together was to bring about a huge character epiphany for Ben: He genuinely likes Jerry and thinks he’s a good friend.

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’ve felt the Jerry-bashing was getting out of hand this season, but I was so happy to see that it actually led to this storyline. Of course it would be Ben who was able to look past everyone else’s opinion of Jerry and form his own—that’s who Ben is. Ben appreciates people who have big hearts and approach life with the best intentions; he did marry Leslie, after all. So it didn’t surprise me one bit that out of all the characters on the show, it would be Ben who finally stood up for Jerry—both literally and figuratively in that perfect Dead Poets Society reference.

As if we needed more reasons to love Ben Wyatt, this episode proved that—on a show filled with people who are truly nice at heart—Ben may be the nicest. I actually got a little emotional when he asked Jerry about his girls because it was such a nice little display of how friendships are built in the real world. There was a warmth there that felt believable, and I was so happy that this little bit of character development that was a funny subplot in “Anniversaries” was fleshed out here. I was also happy to see Jerry actually do something helpful in getting the information about the tent company code violations. It was about time this character had a winning moment. And for those who still like some humor to keep things from getting too sweet, the well-timed fart joke at the end of the episode was a good balance for the kind gesture that came before it.

While Ben and Jerry’s friendship has been a new one for Parks and Rec to explore, “Galentine’s Day” also brought back one of my favorite male friendships on the show: Ron and Andy. I’m not sure if you can really call it a friendship since it mostly consists of Ron trying to help Andy navigate through life without harming himself or others, but I suppose there is no one set definition of friendship, after all. I loved the way this storyline helped Ron see that there’s no switch you can turn off to stop being a parent for a few minutes, and Ron has actually always been very paternal with Andy. Calling Diane to offer to get ice cream for the girls (and Andy) was the perfect understated gesture of kindness for Ron as a character.

The reason I love Ron and Andy so much isn’t just because they represent one of the many kinds of friendships espoused on this show; I find them hilarious together. In terms of comedic styles, I’m not sure it gets more complimentary than Nick Offerman and Chris Pratt working together. Offerman’s deadpan delivery balances Pratt’s childlike exuberance perfectly. There were plenty of funny moments between them in this episode, but my favorite was Andy telling Ron he found the three differences between the pictures in the Highlights magazine, only for Ron to point out that Andy was looking at two completely different pictures.

The male friendships depicted in this episode were great, but you knew that with a title like “Galentine’s Day,” it was going to be ladies’ night on Parks and Rec. And what a wonderful ladies’ night it was. Leslie loves big; it’s who she is and how she defines herself. So it made perfect sense to me that she would be lost without having Ann to channel all that love towards. Yes, she has Ben, but a husband isn’t the same as a best female friend. Falling in love doesn’t make every other relationship in your life less important, and I once again have to applaud Parks and Rec for reminding us of that (in hilarious fashion by Ben thinking he could talk about Sandra Bullock’s skirt length with Leslie). You can’t replace your best friend; not with a husband and not even by a carefully-designed search process.

This episode could have been about Leslie transferring all of her pent-up love onto Ben, but I love that Leslie is a character who understands the importance of female friendship. She knows what all women know; some things can only be discussed with your girls. So instead, Leslie tried to find a replacement Ann. But can there really be another beautiful tropical fish in the sea?

The way Leslie finally discovered that the answer to that question is “no,” was perfect. If “Galentine’s Day” was written just to get all of the best female characters on the show in a room together, then it was a success. I loved learning more about these women—from Donna’s two annulments (one for pleasure and one as part of a long con) and Scandal obsession to Shauna’s very obvious need for a therapy session with Dr. Richard Nygard (whom Leslie thinks was just Chris talking to himself in a mirror). The funniest moment of all came from Shauna saying she didn’t believe in women making the first move, and Leslie telling her that doesn’t apply to therapy. Amy Poehler’s delivery was flawless.

The real point of the failed Galentine’s brunch was to show that you can’t objectively choose your best friends, and you can’t try to force your friendships to all follow the same pattern. Every relationship we form in life is different, and that’s how it should be. Donna and April may not be Ann, but that doesn’t mean they don’t love Leslie. And it doesn’t mean they’re not worthy of Leslie loving them, too. The end of this episode was so great because it featured those three women acknowledging that their friendship is special in its own right. And by giving Leslie the stuffed rabbit with Ann’s voice (and also April’s creepy voice), Donna and April showed Leslie that they weren’t jealous of the fact that Ann will always be her best friend, which is a common trope the show could have played into. Instead, it focused on the fact that all three of these women (and Ann) can appreciate each other for who they are; they value their friendships on their own merits instead of on some crazy ranking system.

And who helped Leslie realize that ranking your friends was horrible idea? Why, none other than that powerful muskox herself, Ann Perkins! It was such a nice surprise to see Rashida Jones back on the show already and to meet baby Oliver, too. Like Ben, Ann has a way of helping Leslie calm down and see for herself when she’s being ridiculous. It’s not just romantic love that helps us be our best selves; the love we find through friendship can do that for us, too.

Cuddled up on the hospital bed, talking about Friday Night Lights, Leslie and Ann were the picture of everything Parks and Rec does right when it comes to female friendships. There was something so warm and so wonderfully real about that moment. It was two women talking with a familiarity that’s not easy to get right about something other than the men in their lives. Their shared interests brought them together, but they didn’t have to have all the same opinions in order to be best friends. That’s such an important lesson (couched in a perfect discussion about a great television show); you don’t have to be exactly the same in order to be best friends with someone. What matters is that you love each other for your similarities and your differences.

As Ann said, Leslie loves bigger than anyone, and it’s always fun to that love take center stage in an episode. Leslie thinks Ann has all the strengths, and that’s how I feel about episodes of Parks and Rec like this one. Sometimes this show isn’t perfect, but other times it gets pretty darn close. So yes, Parks and Rec, on a day like today I can say it: You have all the strengths.

3 thoughts on “TV Time: Parks and Recreation 6.17

  1. After a couple off weeks, this episode was a nice reminder that Parks still has plenty of life left if they continue to focus more on characters instead of plot. I mean really, is anybody tuning in because they cant wait to see what is happening with the ‘unity concert’? I think not. Lets hope the show remembers that going in to its next season (and yay for next season!).

    I have to be honest, my name is uncommon enough that I still get somewhat possessive when I hear it on TV. There was a lot of Shauna talk in this episode and I find it more distracting than anything else. I just want to grab Parks and Rec Shauna on the shoulders and tell her she needs to get her crap together for the sake of all women that share our name, haha.

    But really, Shauna isnt important. The thing I loved about this episode was again the perfect way this show presents a great female friendship. Leslie hasnt seen Ann in a while, and when they are actually together they dont have to catch up with EVERYTHING that they have missed since being apart. They just fall immediately back into the relationship they had like they have never been apart. And thats exactly how a great friendship is – just being in the presence of that person is enough. I also love that when Leslie was being a bad friend to April and Donna, she was able to acknowledge this and apologize. And Donna and April are good enough friends that they not only forgave Leslie, they recognized that Leslie was hurting and they got something to cheer her up. THIS IS HOW MATURE PEOPLE ACT IN REAL LIFE. If we were watching trashy reality TV this whole little thing would have been blown way out of proportion, backs would be stabbed, grudges would be held. Happy people with healthy relationships dont act that way. They act like mature respectful adults. And I just want to give Parks and Rec all the awards for showing us people with healthy relationships. Sure the characters on this show have exaggerated character traits, but their relationships still feel very very real. We all have that friend we need to gossip about fictional characters with. And the friend that is always up on the latest trend. The kinda morbid one. The one that never really grew up but you help them navigate through life when you can. The fiercely independent one that still has a huge heart. A great friend circle really is like a perfect TV comedy ensemble cast 🙂

    Ok there I go getting overly sentimental over TV again. And after all that, I have to say, I think my favorite part was the ‘I am the Zodiac killer’ recording in the stuffed bunny.

    • I’m kind of jealous of your name still being used rarely in the media. There have been so many different variations of Katie and Katherine on TV and in books, but thankfully one of my favorite TV characters (Kate Beckett on Castle) of all-time shares my name (including the spelling), so I can’t really complain.

      I can’t tell you how much I agree with your penultimate paragraph. You are so right about Leslie and Ann’s friendship feeling real because they just fall into the same rhythm even after time apart. That’s how I know my best friend and I are best friends—we can always pick up wherever we leave off, no matter how long it’s been since we last hung out. And YES to your comment about people in mature relationships behaving the way the characters on Parks and Rec behave. There’s no need to show unnecessary drama; people in healthy relationships act respectfully and openly with one another. And Parks and Rec has never been afraid to show TV audiences that healthy relationships can be even more entertaining to watch than dysfunctional ones. Happiness doesn’t have to be boring, and I love that Parks and Rec believes this, too.

  2. Pingback: The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week (3/16 – 3/23) | Nerdy Girl Notes

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