TV Review: Parks and Recreation 5.10, “Two Parties”
For now I’m more than happy to simply watch Leslie, Ann, April, and Glenn use penis hats to dig up fake Native American artifacts at night.
Dividing sitcom episodes by gender lines can be a tricky line to walk, but those in the camp of Daniels and Schur seem to really know how to pull it off. “Two Parties” takes a very straightforward premise – contrasting Leslie and Ben’s respective bachelorette and bachelor parties – and (as usual) makes the absolute most of it. Leslie of course can’t get through a party without resisting the temptation to stress over work and conduct business through panicked and ethically questionable means, and by contrast the guys got to live out their ideal evenings in what was probably the best and most egalitarian bachelor party ever. “Two Parties” didn’t necessarily make any grand statements about gender or romantic love, but it did showcase the lengths to which people will go in order to make their friends happy.
The bachelor party served to contrast Leslie’s bachelorette party as well as shine a spotlight on its attendees. While it was a lot of fun to see each of these character’s ideal guys’ nights out, especially Tom’s trip to Eagleton’s premiere fine spirits fusion bar, Essence, which I was slightly surprised Ron didn’t burn down out of principle alone, I liked that each of the guys’ activities really was designed to act as a build-up leading up to Chris, the quiet, selfless, and most emotionally sensitive member of the group, receiving the highest honor of an epic evening. Of all the guys Chris is the only one not to have had a wife at any point and he’s also the one this would probably bother the most so it was very satisfying to see the unsung hero of the episode get the credit and support he deserves, even if Andy’s hypothetical non-death was a bit two-sided.
While the guys’ collective bachelor party was pretty self-contained, Leslie’s plot progressed the larger arc of Lot 48’s reemergence in the series. The deal made in “Leslie vs. April” with Dentist/Councilman Jamm in which he, Leslie, and April each had some time to come up with a proposal for Lot 48 is broken when the ladies notice construction occurring on the site accompanied by a sign promoting the future location of another Paunch Burger fast food restaurant. While Ann desperately wants to give Leslie an epic party like the one she knows Leslie would throw for her, Leslie can’t even pay attention to one of her own fantasies of a sexy “Babe Lincoln” stripper (sexy Ben Franklin anyone?), also known as Glenn, a former classmate of April’s – “How’ve you been, man?” Instead, Leslie buries some Wammapoke “artifacts” (which appeared to just be Native American novelties from around her office) on the site in an attempt to halt construction as per a local ordinance, but soon realizes her attempt would be easily discovered and flaunted as exploitation. Thankfully the local Wammapoke representative, Ken Hotatay, ultimately comes through for Leslie by shaming Jamm into giving Leslie (and April) the time they had agreed on to develop proposals to present to the town council for a vote on Lot 48’s future.
I love that the writers could have easily gotten away with doing an episode in which we only watched Leslie and Ben’s parties, but instead chose to include an actual story in there as well which speaks truthfully to Leslie’s tenacity and willingness to cross lines for what she believes in as well as the fact that because of this now well-known reputation for doing what’s right Ken is more than willing to come through for her when he didn’t have to. Hopefully as the series continues we’ll watch Leslie’s sense of right and wrong find some maturity and balance between what’s right and what’s practical, but for now I’m more than happy to simply watch Leslie, Ann, April, and Glenn use penis hats to dig up fake Native American artifacts at night.