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Parks and Recreation 6×14 “Anniversaries” Recap

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Leslie and Ben promise not to get each other gifts for their wedding anniversary this week. (Which, of course, means that there is some super extravagant gift giving going on in what is one of season six’s funniest episodes.)

Ann Perkins’s departure might have been a worry for some (…we all know how to survive without Rob Lowe, let’s be honest here), but “Anniversaries” proves that life goes on without Leslie Knope’s best friend, Parks naturally slotting in Ben as Leslie’s new permanent soundboard, and giving us a new and most unexpected friendship to fawn over: Ben and his new best-bud Larry/Gary/Jerry.

Also, April leaves an anonymous complaint on Yelp for Donna. Because, like me, she’s a child who avoids confrontational responsibility.

So much is good about “Anniversaries” – Ron writing a letter to Canada, for example, or complaining about frozen yogurt – but I think we can all agree that the best moment of “Anniversaries” came at the close. Parks has honestly created and collected such an amazing group of characters. Every week Leslie does something that seems so outlandish and fanciful, and Andy something so dumb that you wonder how he functions… But at the same time, you don’t wonder how or why at all, because the created world of Pawnee is one where all of that; all of those fantastic and dumb, wonderful scenarios… can actually exist. Parks is an amazing world to visit, because through Leslie Knope everything is just that little bit brighter. Imagine Parks and Pawnee through the eyes of April, for example, and you can see something darker and perhaps a little less pleasant. Just as funny, but not as fun, I don’t think, and that’s why this week, I’m in awe. Because “Anniversaries” reminded me of just how much I love this show.

With Leslie Knope, Mike Schur and his writers have created a character that is so positive and passionate- whether she be loving something, or hating it- and so earnestly kind and caring. She consistently proves those traits, week by week, and so when she leads Ben to his office, ushering him in to see his new Game of Thrones Iron Throne replica, it doesn’t seem over the top in the least. It feels just right, and that’s because the Parks crew have created a world where they have, step by step, earned every single laugh.

Take the background of tonight’s episode, for example. Leslie struggles to convince the public that the Pawnee-Eagleton merger was actually a good idea, and in doing so, brings in so many of the recurring background players for the episode. The surrounding world of Pawnee’s City Council – of which Joan Callamezzo and Pawnee’s community radio show were seen tonight- features a large and strange set of characters that naturally slide into the background of scenes, no development needed, and no explanation either. In a sitcom-landscape where New Girl and The Mindy Project can barely give their main characters enough of a platform, Parks and Recreation consistently hosts an entire town in twenty-two minutes, and does it so well.

NBC shafts Parks and Recreation so regularly that it seems like we’re constantly on hiatus (and I say ‘we‘ because that’s what this show does, it includes you in something), but then Leslie Knope and her crew come back, and I wonder how we survived without them at all.

Grade: A-

Memorable Quotes

  • Spoilers: Ben makes the stupid face. “He makes the cutest, dopiest face when he’s surprised.” “She’s going to make the face this year! SHE WILL MAKE THAT STUPID FACE!”
  • Ron had a lot of wisdom tonight: “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Children are terrible artists. And artists are crooks.”
  • April’s anonymous Yelp feedback for Donna: “Stopped by to adopt a dog but the employee, Donna Meagle, was nowhere to be found. Thanks for nothing, Donna Meagle. Booooo.”
  • Ben and Larry/Gary/Jerry get a couple’s massage: “I have been kind of tense lately, just thinking about the new star wars sequel.”
  • And then they bond over their love for Enchanted: “I am so prepared. I watched enchanted three times to get all the details right. And then another two times, because that movie is amazing!” (Adam Scott’s and his stupid face were on fire this week.)