Archive for the ‘Parks and Recreation’ Category

Making Love to the Pooch

March 27, 2010

I am happy to report that Parks and Recreation has reclaimed its rightful place as foremost in my affections with this week’s episode. When this show began it seemed like Leslie was just going to be lady Michael Scott, but thankfully that has not turned out to be the case. Leslie and Michael both love their jobs an unreasonable amount, but Leslie is actually competent. Even though it didn’t work out, Leslie’s concept for the Parks Department magazine was sound, she just counted on people who turned out to be hateful cynics (and Ron, who is a cynic, but not particularly hateful).

The open was really funny: Tom borrows Ron’s coonskin cap for the purpose of peacocking and just succeeds in scaring the ladies off with lines like “Daaaaaamn girl, your hotness killed my raccoon!” He probably should have tried Donna’s contribution: “Yes I am a hunter– and it’s you season.”

The A plot is Leslie’s attempt to put together the summer Parks catalog, which she compares to Vogue’s September Issue. In an odd coincidence, I had just watched The September Issue mere hours before P&R. It definitely troubled my mind-grapes, since I am obviously in favor of smart women in positions of power and I really don’t think every woman has a responsibility to be warm just because men feel more comfortable imagining everyone woman is their mom but DAMN does Anna Wintour go to the other extreme. I kind of wanted to curl up and die when she told the photographer he’d better hit the gym. He’s a photographer! As Grace Coddington said: “Not everyone has to be perfect, it’s enough that the models are perfect.”

Leslie has some sexists of her own to deal with, notably former Parks Director James Watson. (Okay, that’s not really his name, but I am still, and always will be, pissed at James Watson for being a grade A douchebag to Rosalind Franklin.) James Watson tells Leslie that back in his day women weren’t allowed to teach and she’s all “Really? I thought there were women teachers way before then.” And he’s all “Not in my department. Women need a lot of blood to flow through to their baby centers which leaves less for the brain. I’d stay away from leadership roles for your own safety.” Then he’s all, “You really shouldn’t be leading us, if you’re menstruating you could attract bears.”

Holy God. My favorite thing about this show is that it’s overtly feminist in a way that’s just a premise of the show, it reminds me of Donna on That 70s Show in a way. Leslie has to deal with sexist assholes at work ALL the time, and it bugs her, but she just keeps doing her job and kicking butt. We don’t have to learn a little lesson about how these guys aren’t really sexist or sometimes ladies really are bad at their jobs (for an offender on this front, Grey’s Anatomy).

Ron’s immediate predecessor was apparently afflicted with reefer madness, and was a savant of bongs, once crafting one out of a taxidermied raccoon (Ron’s hat?). He makes good (and funny) points when Ron brings up his smoking at work: “In fairness to me, it was a different time, it was the early nineties. But also it’s ridiculous that marijuana is illegal. Thomas Jefferson grew hemp. Alcohol is legal and pot isn’t? That makes sense to you, Ron?”
Ron: I’m sorry, I don’t hear hippies.

Director Stoner suggests everyone smoke another j and calm down, but the person with the real solution is April who photoshops a spread with the directors all– well there’s no delicate phrasing (except “going to Bologna,” but that’s only comprehensible to people who, god bless us every one, watch SLAT)– blowing each other. “What, look how generous they’re being with each other!”

April and Andy almost make progress in their cute crush when April offers to help Andy write the song “Life is a Picnic With You,” but when April is carded at the bar it seems to make Andy think (hard to believe, but true!) about how young she really is, so that might be on hold.

Anne and Mark’s relationship seems not long for this world with Tom’s photographs revealing Anne’s secret unhappiness or, as Tom puts it “sad wife”-ness.

Tom: What are we doing, Maxim or Good Housekeeping?
Anne: I’m not sure which one is the insult….
Tom: Hey, if there’s anyone out there that wants to do a photo shoot on the dangers of eating undercooked chicken I can give you Anne’s phone number.

I don’t really know why they’re ending that relationship, although I mostly don’t care, which I guess might be the problem. I love Anne and Leslie’s friendship, but they need to do a better job of integrating Anne into the show since she seems to show up at the department for increasingly contrived reasons week after week. Although I love most of the direction of the show I do kind of miss the clarity of purpose in the first season: a department of people and concerned citizens working hard to get a pit filled in.

The episode ends sweetly with Ron and Leslie getting breakfast-for-dinner at a diner and promising they won’t start to hate one another. Leslie admits that despite her efforts, things did not go as planned in the greatest line in the history of ever: “Oh Ron, I really made love to the pooch on this one.”

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I’m All Out of Love

November 23, 2009

This week’s Park and Recreation was AWESOME.

Once again, Leslie infiltrates a boys’ club: the annual hunting trip. On the course of the hunt someone shoots Ron in the head, Dick Cheney-style, and Leslie confesses to the ranger that it was her in the greatest confession ever:

Leslie: “Okay. Fine. I got that tunnel-vision that girls get. That’s what happened. End of story… Ummm.. I let my emotions get the best of me. I just I guess… cared too much I guess. I was thinking with my lady parts. I was walking and I felt something icky. I thought there was going to be chocolate… (valley girl voice) I don’t even remember! I’m wearing a new um. bra, and it closes in the front so it popped open and it threw me off. All I want to do is have babies! Are you single? I’m just like, going through a thing right now. I guess my life isn’t complete and I just want to shoot someone! This would not happen if I had a penis! What? Bitches be crazy… I’m good at tolerating pain, I’m bad at math… and.. I’m stupid…”

But, aha! It wasn’t ever Leslie! She covered for Tom because he didn’t have a hunting license!

I think Leslie’s hero Hillary Clinton would be proud of this subversion.

But! Also! April and Andy bond over the sublime Muzak semicroonings of one Air Supply! I’m not ashamed to admit, All out of Love is one of my karaoke songs. But I’ve never given anyone a hickey to it.

ETA: In my drunken review here (only one typo, (that I caught) good for me! Or disturbing for me. Whatever, don’t judge.) I forgot to mention the amazing line: “Guys love it when you can show them you’re better than they are at something they love.”

Long has this been my misguided romantic strategy. A few years ago I had a crush on this one dude, and he was all “Let’s play Horse” and I was all okay, but I don’t really know anything about basketball… And I kicked his ASS and was totally ungracious about it. There may have been dancing around and shouts of “In your FACE!”

My lady friends were all, “Haven’t you seen tv or movies? You should have let him show you how.”

But fuck that noise. Future gentleman callers: If you want to be better than me at something you’re just going to have to be better than me at it. And if you’re not attracted to excellence then… you’re the weird one!

30 Offices of Parks and Recreation

May 3, 2009

Thursdays NBC tv was… not the greatest. Doostyn and I spoke about how it wasn’t great, but it wasn’t so bad it’s good, either. But the common thread, to a degree, was the place of feminism in the workplace and boy’s clubs, most explicitly on Parks and Rec, and just implicitly on The Office, but it wasn’t handled as well as I think these generally clever comedies are capable of. 30 Rock at least, has done it better before.

Bottom to top then, The Office. In this episode, Michael has to choose between Pam and Ryan who can stay on as a salesman, since the other Dunderheads demand the return of the clients who defected to the Michael Scott Paper Company. Several people scream at Pam that she’s “only a secretary.” At the end of the episode Michael tells Pam that he’s giving the job to Ryan, despite the fact that of the two of them, Pam is the one who hasn’t been to prison for embezzlement. But surprise! Michael was just kidding! But then Michael calls in Other Kelly, the new secretary to pull the same “You’re getting fired” prank that he pulled in the very first episode. So it becomes pretty clear that Michael, enormous fan of bromantic work relationships, has not actually learned that women are also people worthy of our respect, but has just upgraded Pam to the buddy circle. Great.

The Office is a show I enjoy, but it’s pretty much in constant feminism probation for its inability to show women succeeding. (Jan was insane, baby obsessed, cruel, and abusing her position. Holly also engaged in an inappropriate work relationship. Pam isn’t even allowed to finish her degree.)

Line of the night, and one I will be stealing: “It is on like a prawn who yawns at dawn.”

30 Rock‘s A Plot was who suffers more when treated equally, black people or women? Or so we are meant to generalize from the examples Tracy and Liz. (Black women exist! Tracy is married to one!) Tracy’s opening foray– making Liz change the water dispenser– made me wonder about the logistics of those things. Surely they’re not just open like that? The biggest problem with this plot is that it’s basic sitcom hardy hars without any 30 Rock twist. I have seen this plot on Boy Meets World for cry yi.

And 30 Rock did this better with Jenna and Tracy during the primaries when Tracy lived for a week as a white woman and Jenna in terrifying blackface as a black man. And part of why that was better is that Tracy and Jenna are about equivalently ridiculous, whereas Liz is clearly more of an adult than Tracy is. Some of the things Liz is put through during equality week are ridiculous and inappropriate for the workplace, like the strip club visit, whereas Tracy is essentially freaking out about having to show up for work on time.  So not only is this storyline a little tired, it also really trivializes the experience of racism.

Simply put: it’s reasonable to expect that when you go to work you will not be expected to do things you are physically unable to do for whatever reason, and that you will not be expected to interact sexually with coworkers. It’s unreasonable to expect that you won’t have to show and can send a monkey in your place. The effect is to imply that the only thing holding black men back is ridiculous behavior and laziness. Charming.

Line of the night? “He treated her like dirt all those years — coming and going, taking up with other women, including more than one Unitarian!”

As a Unitarian, I say hee. Also, I thought Tracy voted for McCain? Remember his PSA: Black People– don’t vote!

Parks and Recreation.

“I wanna take that cheese and do terrible things to it.” Me too, Tom, me too.

But more seriously, the topic of the episode is that Leslie gets herself in trouble by opening up a gift basket that was more than $25 in her excitement to break up the boy’s club in politics.  The problem is, this episode treats the existence of these boys clubs as hilarious and unimportant. Yeah, good point. That’s way half of all the senators and representatives and even local politicians are women. Oh wait.

The fact that all the dudes are actually getting together for beers and to talk about how their clothing looks doesn’t at all negate the idea of boys’ clubs.  Politics is about making connections to other people and exploiting those connections, and it’s very hard to rise to any level of importance if you’re not seen as a real human being.