Saturday, January 25, 2014

Jenn's Pick: Top 10 Episodes of "Parks and Recreation"

Sometimes, peer pressure is a good thing. It is because of peer pressure – because of everyone talking about and flailing over and quoting the series – that I started marathoning Parks and Recreation. I had seen some episodes, of course, because the show is on directly after Community, but I usually only half-watched at best. I decided that until I could give my full attention to the show, I would hold off on a marathon. So when I began the series, I already anticipated enjoying it. I didn’t expect that I would love it as much as I do, nor that I would find it to be one of the most positive, cohesive, astounding little comedies ever.

Parks and Recreation recently celebrated their 100th episode, which is an amazing feat in and of itself. In honor of their 100th episode, I decided that I would count down ten of my absolute favorite Parks episodes of all time. As I compiled my list, I found it to be quite difficult. Reading through the episode names and descriptions, I was constantly struck with “oh but I LOVED this episode” or “but this one had THAT scene in it,” making my narrowing to ten a troublesome feat. After much inward debate (and a smidge of cheating on my part), I managed to compile my list.

So grab your waffles and your Li’l Sebastian plushy, because we’re about to count down my favorite Parks and Recreation episodes!

10. "Flu Season"

I finally found out where that GIF of Leslie Knope gnawing on a waffle came from when I finished my viewing of the episode, and I was extremely pleased at that. Apart from the obvious OTP of Leslie/waffles, “Flu Season” ranks among my ten favorite episodes because it introduces us to a fairly wonderful Ben/Leslie story that culminates in both his acceptance and admiration of the woman. Plus, this is also the episode where Chris and April are hospitalized for the flu, and Ron spends time with Andy, so automatically it’s a win in my book.

In “Flu Season,” Leslie is struck with the flu and hospitalized, but she refuses to believe she is sick, mainly because she has a presentation and speech to deliver to the Chamber of Commerce regarding the upcoming Harvest Festival. Ben and Tom then make it their mission to deliver the speech FOR Leslie while she’s sick, but that doesn’t sit well with a woman who is type-A (and Tom soon seemingly abandons Ben to hang out at a spa with older men, but what I truly loved about the Tom storyline was that even though it appeared he was slacking off, he was really schmoozing with business owners in order to get vehicles donated for the festival).

Meanwhile, Ron has promised April that he will not tell Andy she is in the hospital (she’s mad at both him and Ann because Ann kissed Andy), and is taking it out on the nurse by being irritating. Ron and Andy bond throughout the day (MEAT TORNADO) which is endearing and lovely and perfect and finally – reluctantly – Ron admits that April is in the hospital after he realizes Andy harbors feelings for her.

Leslie’s fever-induced speech is effective and 110 businesses agree to support the Harvest Festival. And Ben is not just impressed with the fact that Leslie managed to deliver a speech with the flu – he’s impressed by HER as a person. “Flu Season” is the episode where we realize that Ben may actually care about Leslie and admire how much she loves the people around her and the town of Pawnee. This is evidenced, of course, in the fact that both he and Chris are called back to Indianapolis at the episode’s end, but both decide to stay in Pawnee longer.

“Flu Season” is a perfect little episode that kicked off a lot of great stories and that’s why it also kicks off my top ten (well, that and a flu-ridden Chris Traeger is just about the funniest thing you’ll ever see).

9. "Lil Sebastian"

If you’re not humming “5,000 Candles in the Wind” right now, then there is something wrong. Yes, “Li’l Sebastian” made it onto my list because of that song, but also because of how it is an episode that exemplifies everything Parks and Recreation is about – friendship and camaraderie, loyalty and caring about things that others think are stupid. It’s the season three finale of Parks and Recreation, which also means that it ends on a pretty important cliffhanger, but I’ll get to that momentarily.

(As an aside, most of my favorite episodes derive from seasons three and four. I didn’t actually plan it that way, but I realized these two seasons are probably the strongest of the series.)

Pawnee’s famous miniature horse, Li’l Sebastian dies and the Parks department decides to plan the memorial service for him. Leslie and Ben are dating and attempt to keep their relationship a secret from everyone in the episode (Ron discovers and reminds them that if Chris finds out, they both could be fired), which causes them to bribe a maintenance worker and ultimately cause both mayhem and confusion behind the scenes of the memorial service. I love that this ultimately comes back to bite them in “The Trial of Leslie Knope,” honestly because I’m a fan of continuity. And Mike Schur is a fan of it, too.

Elsewhere, Tom agrees to help Jean-Ralphio’s company Entertainment 720 plan the memorial service, as well as create a touching video tribute to Li’l Sebastian. Jean-Ralphio encourages Tom to join him and work on the company, which would mean Tom would have to quit his city hall job. The memorial service strikes a mortality chord in Chris, who begins to believe that he is dying (allowing Ann to try to comfort him in his depression). Andy’s hit song “5,000 Candles in the Wind” receives praise from the community and April decides to become Mouse Rat’s manager.

But the episode ends with Leslie being recognized for her contribution to both the harvest festival as well as the memorial service. She’s actually approached by scouts who are searching for potential city council candidates and believe she would be a prime person to run. But the scouts have one important question: are there any secrets or scandals in her life that might become public once her race is announced? If so, they need to know. In that moment, Leslie looks out of the office window and sees Ben. You can FEEL the inward struggle that she has, because admitting her affair with Ben will likely cost her the job and potentially the city council election.

So she plasters on a smile and lies. And in that moment, every member of the audience knew that the only way this chapter of the Ben/Leslie story could end would be in heartbreak.

8. "Smallest Park"/"The Trial of Leslie Knope"/"Citizen Knope"

Speaking of the Ben/Leslie chapter, I cheated (Sage told me that since it was my blog, I was allowed to) and decided to lump the trifecta of the early Ben/Leslie saga into one spot on my countdown because I consider these three episodes to be quite inseparable from each other. “Smallest Park” is one of the most beautiful, wonderful Ben/Leslie episodes because Leslie (heartbreakingly) spends the entire episode attempting to forgo completing work on the smallest Park in Pawnee so that she can keep working with Ben. Elsewhere, we get one of my favorite Ron/Andy/April stories ever when Andy decides to enroll in a college class and the two help him decide. When he discovers one he actually enjoys (Intro to Women’s Studies), Ron agrees to pay for the class. I LOVE stories with Ron and either Andy or April because he’s such a father figure to them. And even though he’s naturally inclined to be calloused toward everyone, he truly does care about these two and it shows. The other story in “Smallest Park” features Tom being asked to design a new Parks logo. And Tom, eager to do much more than that, actually is able to use Jerry as inspiration. But the best part of this episode, of course, is the end where Ben and Leslie agree to keep their distance from one another because of how painful it would be otherwise. And then, just as Ben prepares to leave, Leslie tells him that she doesn’t care if it costs her city council or her job – she wants HIM. There’s a moment in which we’re not sure how Ben feels… until he turns right back around and kisses Leslie in the smallest park in Pawnee. And everything is beautiful.

“The Trial of Leslie Knope” finds all of the Parks characters coming together to support Leslie as she stands trial for her intra-office affair with Ben (led by Chris Traeger, who admits that he doesn’t want to initiate a trial, but must investigate to ensure no ethical laws were broken during their affair). There’s a moment that I love in the episode more than the Ben/Leslie “I love you” at the end, and it is this one:

Why is this my favorite image, you ask? Because it is representative of what Parks and Rec stands for as a comedy: friendship, loyalty, and devotion. Every member of the Parks department comes together to support Leslie in her moments of crises, including poring over laws in order to try and find a loophole for a mistake she and Ben made by essentially bribing the maintenance worker who saw them kiss in “Li’l Sebastian.” And when Ron suggests that Leslie just admit she is guilty and face the consequences, he also – in the same breath – assures her that everyone in the department will still respect her. They don’t care that she broke the law; they care about her so much that they put aside all of their responsibilities to help her find a loophole. But she can’t keep fighting a losing battle. Leslie admits to bribing the maintenance worker and is punished… with a two-week suspension with pay. Chris then reveals that Ben called a private meeting and took full responsibility for the bribe, then resigned as Assistant City Manager. When the court stenographer reads Leslie the exchange, she hears that Ben confessed his love for her. The episode ends perfectly, with Leslie proclaiming the same thing on record. And then they kiss in the snow and ugh, my feels.

“Citizen Knope” is the final episode in the Ben/Leslie trifecta and it is one of my favorites because of – as I noted above – it’s an episode that centers around the Parks department stepping up and being there for Leslie in her time of need. It’s Christmastime and Leslie is fidgety being on a two-week suspension, sneaking back into the office to try and work. Her campaign advisers tell her to wait until the post-scandal poll numbers are released before she does anything campaign-related either, so Leslie is bored. That is, until Ben suggests that she form a citizens action committee so that she can still accomplish tasks without technically working. The presence of the committee grows so strongly that they begin to draw the attention of Chris. Unfortunately for Leslie, who is excited about this, her joy fades quickly when she sees the drop in her poll numbers and her campaign managers quit.

At the Parks department, the group has spent an inordinate amount of time coming up with the best Christmas present for Leslie, since she always astounds them with her thoughtfulness. They decide to build her a gingerbread house replica of the department, complete with all of the figures. And when a despondent Leslie enters with the news that her campaign team quit on her, the Parks department gives her the best, most amazing, heartfelt gift of all: their services as new members of her team.

These three episodes – this trifecta – represents everything that Parks and Rec is about as a series. It focuses not only on the wonderful, perfect-in-its-imperfection relationship between Ben and Leslie, but it also centers around the love that each of these characters have for each other and the lengths they’re willing to go to help out those they care about.


7. "Win, Lose, or Draw"

In the fourth season finale of Parks and Rec, Bobby Newport and Leslie Knope are neck-in-neck in the race for city council on Election Day and everyone is on edge. Jennifer Barkley, Bobby’s campaign manager, offers Ben a job in Washington, D.C. after the election upon noticing how well he handled Leslie’s own campaign. He tells Leslie this, who is already emotionally compromised by the election and – under the advice of Ann – asks Ben not to go to Washington, D.C. but to stay in Pawnee. Ben agrees.

It’s mayhem and anticipation, leading up to the election results and when they’re read… Bobby Newport is declared the winner. Everyone is understandably stunned, but Ben notes that Bobby’s small margin means that an automatic recount will be triggered anyway. Leslie, however, is upset and retreats to the city council chambers where Ron finds her. She confesses to believing that she let her friends down – these friends who put their lives on hold to help HER. But Ron, as he oft does, tells her that it was never about whether she won or lost; it was about them helping one of their best friends pursue her dream. This touches Leslie and also strikes a chord in her in terms of Ben leaving to pursue an amazing chance in Washington.

She tells Ben this and then something miraculous happens: the recount comes in and it’s revealed that Leslie Knope was the true winner by 21 votes, beating out Bobby Newport. Everyone is elated (including Bobby, who really didn’t want to win) and right before Leslie heads up to the stage to deliver her speech, she tells Ben that someday she’d like to read the concession speech he wrote for her. And then, Ben does what only Ben Wyatt could do and says this:

That is how much he believed in Leslie, how much he will ALWAYS believe in her. He knew he’d never have to write a concession speech, because she’s Leslie Knope. And he had faith in her.

6. "Two Parties"

I recently re-watched “Two Parties” on Netflix because I needed something to pass the time one evening and I had nearly forgotten how in love I was with this episode, in particular the guys’ storyline. The men of city hall rarely get the opportunity to all share a singular story. Usually there are glimpses of Ben/Chris or Ben/Tom or Tom/Ron stories, but rarely stories of all of the men together. And each of the men (Jerry, Tom, Ben, Ron, Andy, and Chris) are SO unique in personality and character that it’s amazing how well their plot of “Two Parties” worked and especially how touching it ended up being. I love everything about this episode: the Leslie/Ann/Donna/April story and bachelorette party was fantastic, and was the storyline that provided the most conflict. The girls butt heads with Councilman Jamm, who begins construction that very night on a Paunch Burger in Lot 48. Because Leslie is infuriated and maybe a tad tipsy, she decides that she can stop construction on the lot by throwing faux Native American artifacts into the pit, knowing that construction will have to halt once they’re found. Leslie’s evil plan is wonderfully devious… until she feels guilt and remorse and the women spend the remaining part of their party digging the artifacts back up again. Even then, they don’t manage to find everything and Leslie’s guilt causes her to confront Chief Hotate about her misdeed. The man then admits that what Leslie did was wrong… and surprises her by confronting Councilman Jamm in a meeting, essentially threatening the contracts his casino has with Paunch Burger. Jamm, of course, is terrified and he agrees to halt construction on his restaurant in response.

Though the women have a rough bachelorette party, the men have an amazing bachelor party. It starts of pretty dull – Ben just wants to play Settlers of Catan with his friends and have a low-key night in. But when Tom suggests the guys go to Eagleton’s swanky new bar, the men each reveal that they’ve never had a bachelor party for themselves. So they spend the remainder of the night celebrating each man with his ideal bachelor party. Tom spends his at the swanky bar, Jerry gets to go to his favorite ice cream parlor, Andy’s dream bachelor party includes a Colts game (which CHRIS MAKES HAPPEN AND IT’S AMAZING), and Ron ends the night at St. Elmo’s Steak House for his party. This is one of my favorite Parks and Rec stories ever because it’s Chris who plans the entire evening and suggests each man have his own dream bachelor party. The men bond in a way that they’ve never really bonded before. It’s both touching and wonderful, and the men come to appreciate Chris so much more as a person too.

Rarely do we get stories in which the men get to have the more emotionally impactful story, but “Two Parties” is that episode for Parks and Rec and boy am I in love with it for that.

5. "London, Parts 1 and 2"

How do I love Parks and Rec? Let me count the ways... I love when the group is in Pawnee, but I love when they travel together (hence why “Road Trip” is also on my list) and they have never traveled farther from Pawnee than when they went to London in the season six premiere. Everything about this two-part episode was epic. There was the story of how Andy stayed in London to help run a non-profit (explaining Chris Pratt’s absence from the show while he shot a movie), there was a story of Leslie receiving an award and having a meltdown as she accepts it because of how poorly Pawnee citizens have been treating her. We know how much Leslie does for her town. We know how much she does for her friends. But “London” exemplified the fact that sometimes being a politician just plain sucks. It’s a thankless role where she serves needy and – quite frankly – selfish people and breaks her back to do everything she can to make them happy. And at the end of the day for her citizens, it is STILL not enough. But what makes “London” so wonderful in terms of the Leslie storyline is that she learns that even the people who seemingly care least about anything (see: April) would do ANYTHING for her. (April’s letter on why Leslie should win an international award is the most beautiful thing ever.)

Speaking of people who would do anything for someone, Ron and Diane get married in the first part of the episode (quickly, with Leslie hilariously attempting to make everything as perfect as she can), and Ron travels – begrudgingly – to London in order to take photos of the sights for Diane. He hates every moment of the trip, until Leslie presents him with a special gift from her – a trip to the countryside, a poem that makes him tear up, and a trip to the distillery that makes his favorite scotch.

Everything about “London” was perfect – from the jokes to the Ron and Leslie heart-to-heart and yes, even to the story back in Pawnee that featured Henry Winkler as Jean-Ralphio and Mona’s father who is trying to run down Tom’s business. This episode was the perfect way to showcase what truly matters on Parks and Recreation: friends, love, and character growth.

4. "Road Trip"

“Road Trip” is an episode of Parks and Rec that makes my list for a few reasons, but the most important one – as you likely guessed – is the Ben/Leslie first kiss, which is wonderful and epic and surprising. It’s an episode that spends nearly its entirety building up the tension between Ben and Leslie. When Chris sends the pair on a Road Trip to Indianapolis to suggest that Pawnee host the next Indiana Little League Baseball tournament, Leslie tells Ann that she must help her to ensure that she doesn’t act on her tension with Ben while they’re alone for the weekend, lest she do and then get herself or Ben (or both of them) fired. Ann agrees, but like the sneaky devious tropical fish that she is, secretly roots for them to be together. She’s the kind of best friend everyone needs to have. The trip goes well in that it goes very awkwardly. I feel secondhand embarrassment throughout most of the episode, as Leslie acts strange around Ben, inviting random strangers to their dinners so that she doesn’t have to be alone with the guy she cares about romantically. But when they DO go out to dinner, Ben confesses that he likes her and she finally breaks through her fears and her awkwardness and tells him that she feels the same way. … And then the night is ruined by Chris, who showed up and crashed their dinner, then invited them to stay at his house for the night.

Meanwhile, the B-story is one of my favorites: Tom hosts a version (okay, so it’s a rip-off) of The Newlywed Game that he calls “Know Ya Boo” and recruits Andy and April and Jerry and Donna to help him test out the game. No one is more surprised than Tom, however, when the Jerry/Donna non-couple actually manage to crush April/Andy at every turn with answers to questions. The two get into a fight after a question about who April’s favorite band is reveals that she doesn’t care about Mouse Rat as much as she leads Andy to believe. Desperate, April goes to Ann for advice (BEST SCENE EVER) and Ann manages to help the young woman out. I loved this story because it showed us how much the characters know one another, but – in the case of April and Andy – how much capability they have to hurt others, too. April and Andy eventually reconcile when April sings one of his songs in the courtyard of the Parks department. The C-story is cute in that it features Ron aiding a little girl with a paper about “why government matters.” He comes to adore the intelligent child but doesn’t give her the best advice when he explains to her why government doesn’t actually matter.

After an awkward night spent at Chris’ place and an awkward drive home (Chris jamming out to the banjo music will never get old), Leslie accepts that she and Ben will just have to return to normalcy… until Ben kisses her AND THEN WE ALL FREAK OUT. I’ll never be over “Road Trip” because it’s an episode that made me feel uncomfortable by watching Leslie’s awkwardness, laugh at the “Know Ya Boo” game, “aww” at the April/Andy resolution, and then squeal at the kiss. Essentially, it did EVERYTHING a great half hour comedy should do. And that is why it is on my list!

3. "The Fight"

This is an episode in which Ann and Leslie get into a fight. It’s their worst fight on the show, but it’s also really important because it’s a fight that exemplifies both of their characters. When the Health Department Public Relations Director is fired from city hall, Leslie suggests to Chris Traeger that Ann take over the position so that she can be closer to Leslie. (The type-A blonde has been feeling a bit left out since Ann has been dating a lot of guys recently.) While Ann is initially hesitant, not wanting to give up her nursing position, she agrees to an interview… and that’s when Leslie goes from precious to annoying, presenting Ann with a massive amount of work to prepare for the interview. When Ann doesn’t do the reading and preparation to Leslie’s standards (and when the blonde continues to push and push her friend), the women begin to grow frustrated with one another. But they don’t actually confront the real reason for their growing bitterness and frustration until at a night club that Tom partially owns.

Speaking of Tom, Snake Juice is the other storyline in “The Fight” and it’s significant because it plays a role in the Leslie/Ann story. Tom and his friend Jean-Ralphio are partial owners of a night club and are unveiling a new drink called Snake Juice. The two attempt to promote the drink through word of mouth marketing and want the entire Parks department to show up for the unveiling of the drink that night. At the lounge, Andy and April have their own side role-playing adventure (which is fantastic) throughout the night, while Leslie discovers Ann at the night club, not preparing for her interview and spending time with her new boyfriend, “The Douche.” Leslie grows agitated with her best friend quickly, and as the pair begin to knock back shots of Snake Juice (along with all of their colleagues in attendance), they become more and more drunk and more and more belligerent. Ann tells Leslie that she’s pushy and moving too slowly with Ben, and Leslie tells Ann that she has no motivation and that if SHE wasn’t there, Ann would never get anything done.

It’s a drunkenly honest conversation and one that stings both women. I was talking to my friend Kate, whose favorite episode is “The Fight” and she noted that she loves the Leslie/Ann argument because it is representative of how women fight. She’s right, of course, and perhaps that’s why I think their fight in the episode is so hilarious – they’re so passive-aggressive when they argue and it makes the fight both hilarious but also relatable; I get why women act this way: we want to preserve our friendships but we also want to be RIGHT. And really, Snake Juice doesn’t have the best effect on ANYONE at the lounge, because every member of the department (save for Donna) gets drunk on the alcoholic beverage and ends up with a terrible hangover the following morning.

It’s Ben, actually, who confronts Ann about the fight she had with Leslie: he expresses the blonde’s regret, and Ann expresses hers as well. And that’s the best thing about girl fights: we may argue and disagree and say mean things to one another, but we usually manage to forgive each other quite quickly. And that’s what I love about “The Fight,” too – both women admit they were wrong and forgive each other and move forward in their friendship.

(Well, that and the montage of everyone drunk on Snake Juice. I don’t think there’s anything better than that.)

2. "Leslie and Ben"

Oh goodness, what can I say about “Leslie and Ben?” It is perfect. It always makes me laugh, and it never fails to make me cry. The wedding of Leslie Knope and Ben Wyatt is one of the most perfect, beautiful little television weddings because it is sentimental and heartfelt, but also because when everything seems to go wrong, that is when everything actually goes RIGHT. I honestly cannot even properly articulate everything that I love about the episode, so let me rattle off a list:

  • Ron and Andy leaping to Leslie’s defense; Ron punching Jamm in the face
  • Ann making Leslie’s last-minute wedding dress
  • Li’l Sebastian (okay, not really him but still a SIGN)
  • Ron’s speech to Leslie before he walks her down the aisle
  • “I love you and I like you” wedding vows in which I SOB
  • “The first draft of my vows, which I wrote the day after we got engaged, clocked in at around 70 pages.”
  • Everyone singing “5,000 Candles in the Wind” with Andy
  • The entire department, sans Ron, falling asleep before Ben and Leslie leave
  • Ron fashioning the wedding rings from a light fixture in Ann’s house
  • Donna singing at the wedding, Tom marrying Leslie and Ben
  • Seriously the ENTIRE WEDDING SCENE.
What I love about Parks and Recreation and with what they did to Leslie and Ben as a couple is this: they never strung the viewers out. It was never a “will-they-won’t-they” with these two. It was always a “they will, but when?” In a world of television sitcom cliches that tell showrunners if they put two of their comedic leads together, the show will inevitably fail, Parks and Rec laughs. But then again, Parks is not a normal sitcom. It’s always had something special about it: it doesn’t try to subvert tropes; it didn’t force itself to morph into a romantic comedy with Ben and Leslie; it is – as has been said multiple times – a comedy of optimism. It’s a show about people who don’t have to learn or pretend to love each other, they just DO. And “Leslie and Ben” is an episode that clearly demonstrates how much love Leslie and Ben have for one another, but also how much love the department has for THEM.

And that brings us to my #1 episode of Parks and Rec, which is...

1. "End of the World"

I love “End of the World” for a lot of reasons, but one of the top reasons is that it has so many cohesive stories scattered throughout. Nearly everyone is separated or split off into pairs throughout the episode (Leslie/Ben/Ron with a tad bit of Ann; Andy/April/Jerry; Tom/Jean-Ralphio), and yet every story is solid and every story is important. And every story does make us think: if it was the end of the world, right now, how would we want to spend it? For Leslie, she spends “End of the World” struggling because she’d want to spend it with Ben. (She hilariously attempts to distract Shauna Malwae-Tweep from asking Ben out on a date the entire episode.) But Ron, with his wise dose of realism and advice, explains that since the world isn’t actually ending… she can’t. And she has to come to terms with the fact that Ben is single and available and she cannot be with him. It is a painful revelation for Leslie, but I’m glad that Ron was the one to deliver the sentiment to her – he truly does care about the woman and knows, though, that sometimes she needs to hear the truth, rather than her own delusions. And he is ALWAYS there to speak truth into her life.

(This doesn’t, of course, diminish how utterly heartbreaking it is to watch Ben tell Leslie that she cannot stop him from dating anyone else. You FEEL for Leslie Knope because you just want her to be happy and you want her to be happy with Ben but, at that moment, she cannot.) Leslie, the following morning, apologizes for the way she acted and tries to conceal her delight when Ben reveals that he did not go out with Shauna after all.

Meanwhile, it is Entertainment 720’s last hurrah, so Tom and Jean-Ralphio decide to pull out all the stops to say goodbye to their company. If the world was going to end tomorrow, they reason, it might as well end with a stellar party. A great number of people show up and it is an elaborate, loud party that lasts all throughout the night. But Tom, in spite of the success of the party feels a sort of emptiness inside. Finally, as the party lets out the following morning, Tom talks to his ex-girlfriend Lucy who explains that she had an amazing time at the party and then kisses him. In a moment that is completely uncharacteristic of Tom, he doesn’t freak out or babble. He just smiles.

But my favorite story of this episode (and one of my favorite stories EVER) is the Andy/April one, in which the two realize that Andy has a bucket list and April makes it her duty to help him fulfill every last item on the list. From the most seemingly insignificant items (make the most amazing grilled cheese sandwich EVER) to the most extreme, April is insistent on fulfilling every item. And when Andy gets discouraged, April is there to cheer him on. (One of my favorite bucket list items is when the two recruit Jerry to help them film an action film sequence in their house.) But my absolute favorite moment of the entire episode comes when April decides that she can help Andy cross the final item off his list. She steals her parents’ car and then drives with Andy all night and into the morning until they arrive, just after sunrise, at the Grand Canyon. They’re both stunned into silence at the beauty of nature and it’s such an astounding moment for them as a pair. April, in “End of the World,” displays exactly how much she cares about and believes in Andy’s dreams, no matter how insignificant they may seem to anyone else. I am always hit with a wave of tears as I watch them pull up to the Grand Canyon and wrap their arms around each other. I can’t help but cry, and I don’t even know exactly WHY that is but I suspect it’s because it's so touching in that it focuses on what these characters really would do if the world ended tomorrow. Leslie would spend her time with Ben; Chris would spend his in an existential crisis; Tom would spend his dancing and drinking the night away; and April and Andy would spend it together, doing ridiculous things that made them infinitely happy.

And that, I believe, is why “End of the World” will remain my favorite episode.

Now that I’ve babbled on for longer than necessary about MY favorite Parks and Rec episodes, tell me: what are YOURS? Hit up the comments below or tweet me your answers. And, as always, have a great week! :)


  1. I LOVE THIS! I have no idea how you even began to narrow down your top ten, but if I absolutely had to, off the top of my head, I'd call these mine (in no particular order):
    "Soulmates," "Flu Season," "The Debate," "The Fight," "Ron and Diane," "Emergency Response," "Two Parties," "London," "Practice Date," "Road Trip," "End of the World," and "Win, Lose, or Draw." That's twelve. Oh well.

    1. Thank you Kelly! It was SO difficult to narrow them down to 10 (well, technically 13. I cheated. :P) I love all of your suggestions too! "Ron and Diane" is SO great and I think it was Sage who told me that "Practice Date" is on her top 10, too! :)

  2. The only one I'd add is "Practice Date." The first truly GREAT episode of Parks. And I just love Amy and Louis CK together so much. "Are you impressed that I know what it's called?"

    1. Ugh, I need to do another re-watch of Parks in its entirety because there are so many great episodes. <3

  3. I love love love Parks and Recreation. It's one of those shows I can put on anytime, anywhere and I'm instantly in a better mood and thoroughly entertained. I don't know if I'd be able to narrow my favorites down to only 10, but your list definitely has some of the best. Another episode I will always remember as amazing was Hunting Trip and the Tammy/Ron episodes. Good does this show not have any Emmy's!! There are so freakin amazing eps to choose from! :)

    1. Hi anon! Thank you for commenting. Ugh, isn't Parks just the BEST? I feel like when every other comedy manages to fail me, Parks never does. It's just solid all around -- ensemble, romance, comedy, heart -- and it deserves every single award out there for its cast and writers. In a just world, it would be winning Emmys left and right. :) Thanks again for your comment!

  4. I couldn't agree more on The End of the World. I thought it was the most heartwarming episode of the whole entire series, and I have never cried more. I truly admire any work of art that could push me to feel my emotions.

  5. This show has gotten a lot of fans. I think the writing has a lot to do with that. There are unexpected twists to the story that put a smile on your face. The acting is good too and should, hopefully, help many of the actors to get roles in other shows that have good ratings.

  6. I have been reading these lists all morning and I think that by far, you have put together the best list. What made me look for these lists was the End of the World was just on and I was wondering where it ranked. Also, I like that you included Two Parties, which is my favorite episode. That episode is so often overlooked and I believe you captured it perfectly in your write up. Also, Ron and Tammy Two is my second-favorite episode because it includes my favorite moment from the entire show - when Ben goes back to the police chief and asks for the favor for Leslie and the chief responds that Leslie gets all the favors she wants because she uses them to help people. Love that.

  7. I love love love Parks and Recreation. It's one of those shows I can put on anytime.