- cashewdani mentioned in a comment a couple of weeks ago that it feels like Parks and Recreation are going to pull off absolutely anything? She's right. They're fearless. They've married off a couple who hadn't even really been considered a possible 'ship this time last season. They've roped in two new characters into an already packed ensemble, one of whom is so well-written and so fully absorbed into the show that he's been able to play off with every new character he's been paired off with easily - where just tossing him into a situation with afore-mentioned married couple is going to get results, because you just have to let him be what he's already been defined as being, and they'll play off one another perfectly. They're creating a 'ship and letting them be without creating stupid, redundant obstacles, because they're on the same ground, and they'll get around the one problem they have eventually.
IT IS DELIGHTFUL. Somehow the fact that they can pull off anything isn't hindering it like it has for Community (because Community's been throwing all they can into the show and sometimes it sticks, sometimes it doesn't; sometimes it sticks for barely an episode, etc.) - it's just pushing it harder, pushing it higher. and they're doing more things. and they pull it off. consistently.
- I think the primary complaint with The Office around four seasons in was that it started getting "wacky" - over-the-top and a little messy and a little too many "hijinks" plots. Well, yeah, of course that happened - how low-key the show was was one of the best things about it. It's why it could work. Covert shots and so many silences, both awkward and devastating, where you could just sit back and watch these characters sort of react to things or at each other. When it got loud it lost that. It did for me.
Parks and Recreation, by incorporating the entire town of crazy citizens, and setting up an entire library of characters they can pull into the mix - crazy people, villains, etc. - and making sure its entire ensemble is game for just about anything, and by doing all of this right from the beginning (although to lesser effect in S1), has kind of sidestepped this problem, I think, and I love it for that.
Plots like this week's with Leslie and the painting work, even when I know there are aspects of it that are illogical - because I know this Marcia, I know this Leslie, I know the way the government and the media would get involved or would be used in this, and it never got too wacky for me. It's tonally consistent to do these crazy things, because their tone's been open to this level of madness from the very beginning - the grounding element of this show are these people, not the situations they're put in. They have so much material to use, so much they can do. It's exciting. It's brilliant. It works for me. It may not for everyone - I know it does not for everyone - but I love it.
- And I get a little bit stupid when I get flaily about this show.
- Leslie Knope is a goddess, and this is now canon. How much do I love that she was empowered by that painting? It's such a perfect little turn, and I love that it emphasises one of my favourite things about her - her confidence. She is fucking fabulous. I love that she gets to be the HBIC without being the "bitch", because god knows I'm tired of the way female characters get to get things done without avoiding being scorned or made fun of not just by fandom, but by the show itself. None of these characters reject her of this strength, only of the painting, and it's wonderful.
(It's especially wonderful because just three days ago I was watching a video full of clips of men tearing women down on the news, making fun of the choices they make and the clothes they choose to wear, and of the fact that women want to be taken seriously - and it made me so angry. THANK YOU, show, for letting a woman own herself and be proud of it, and for letting other people appreciate that about her.)
- (That pornography thing was strange and a little off-putting, though.)
- How much do I love that Leslie's confidence comes across in her interactions with Ben, too? SO MUCH. Chris wanting to set Ben up on people while Leslie was still around could've been awkward for both of them, but Ben was self-conscious and yet pretty firm about not really being interested, and the only time Leslie even hinted at jealousy was when she told Chris that the date didn't work, so stop asking. In that first scene when Ben's stumbling over his words talking about the art show, Leslie is staring at him like she totally knows why he's getting all awkward. And when Chris says Ben should be with someone perfect, and when Leslie says "a real goddess", she smiles knowingly and Ben smiles right back. Yeah, they fucking like each other. And damn straight, both of them know it.
And that scene at Ben and Andy and April's apartment just rammed it home, because the chemistry and the looks and the understanding? their faces? I cannot deal with any of it. They're on the same wavelength! There's no need to beat around the bush! There's no need for Ben to pretend when he's talking to Andy! I don't know what to do with my hands or my feelings, but it's okay, these two know what to do with their hands, and the writers know what to do with their feelings, and I am completely with them. I love how straightforward this is. Bring it on. Bring on the 'ship.
- I do think less of Chris by the episode. Initial negativity was because of how his insistence on being nice and kind (and letting Ben do the dirty business) came off as passive-aggressive, but this week he did some stupid things, including accepting that burning the painting is a totally viable resolution for the problem it caused for a handful of people (or one very, very vocal person, whose grounds for outrage was bestiality, which is ridiculous). He doesn't fit! The fact that it's Rob Lowe means we get even more screentime with him than we used to get with the other guy, and that means I see more of what motivates him in all this rubbish, and that means I have more time to get annoyed with his reasoning. He doesn't fit! I just want him to be used more sparingly.
- Ben fits! I am getting extraordinary joy from the fact that he's rooming with Andy and April (and we'll get it for another two months at least, considering that's how much rent he's paid so far), because all of this fits him so well - I can see him bugging them to get the cleaning up done, I can see them listening to him, and I can see them wearing him down into fighting marshmallow wars. If he gets Leslie involved in play on his team (as in this fic), I couldn't complain (see: would die flailing).
And Ben's conversation with Andy regarding Leslie was kind of adorable, and it was adorable for a lot of reasons, but my favourite thing about it was Andy's reaction to it (and I'm bummed that no one seems to have talked about this at all, but then again, Leslie/everyone-ever is my friendship of main interest on this show): "Leslie is like the coolest ever, you've chosen well." Aww. aww. aww.
- Other things:
- More Leslie/everyone-ever friendship feelings: the way Leslie wore Ron down within seconds to give the speech was glorious. Of course he'd cave. It's Leslie.
- I love that the structuring of Ron's speech was basically: pick out all the points that an opening speech for a government-sponsored event should address, and systematically bring them all up and cut them all down.
- I really love it when Ron calls someone son. "You forgot to paint a painting, son."
- Tom/Ann watch: loved the easy way she teased him about the baby. There really aren't many people she isn't awkward around, right? (Am I fishing? Do I care?)
- The way Tom started laughing after "topless Leslie glued to a horse" cracked me up. Still cackling.
- It's lucky that Andy and April are really cute, because I would not be able to live with them otherwise.
- Leslie/Ben did look really good in that scene in the apartment.
- Leslie glows when she's around Ben, and it's delightful. Amy P, you are marvelous.
Basically, lalalala, I love this show so much.