I laughed a lot during "Sex Education," but I wouldn't call it a great episode of Parks and Recreation. Season 5 has been off to a fairly slow start, and I'm wondering if sectioning off two major players of the cast to another city maybe wasn't the best idea in the world. I love Ben and April together, but aside from building a nice little friendship, I don't really see how far the plot of the show can be moved along with the two of them joking around in Washington... unless one (or both?) of them leaves their partner, something that I'm pretty positive isn't going to happen. (Though my research has led me to find a tiny community of Apren/Benpril shippers and apparently there's some pretty convincing fan fiction out there, though I sure as hell am not ever going to read it.)
So for now, we've got funny episodes with general character development but slightly stagnant plot -- it's a little boring to talk about, but at least the foundation is there. I trust the writers and feel like within the next few episodes, Parks & Rec will be the well-oiled machine it's been in seasons past. And I'll take an episode like "Sex Education" where the Pawnee/DC gang is showing off recently-developed chops over "Ms. Knope Goes to Washington" where everyone recycles the same shtick. Now, let's get to grading, ya Perd-verts.
Loose-ly Grope, Ann and Chris: B+
One thing is certain: Parks & Rec has finally figured out how to write for Ann. I also loved Leslie calling her BFF out on how she changes for every guy she meets after we got to see several restrained scenes where Ann was dressed like a cowgirl(friend). As for the actual plotline, it's hard to go wrong with having old people talk about sex (I highly recommend watching the "Pepper McMasters Singles Seminar" episode of Party Down if you agree), but I was hoping for a little bit more from this, at least on the laughter side. It's nice to see Leslie grow as a politician/best friend to Chris, but at the end of the day, I felt like the Langman couple kind of deflated the whole plotline. (Speaking of, when Ann angrily told the Langmans, "I'm from Michigan!" was that a Mean Girls reference?)
Leslie's Best Line of the Night: "I'm an old lady. Why do I need birth control? I haven't had my monthly since LBJ was president."
Ann's Best Line of the Night: "You should never eat lube, you need to see a doctor immediately and I'm sorry, sir, but you have to be under 40 to ride this train."
Chris's Best Line of the Night: "Ann Perkins, your expertise is thrilling and frankly, almost arousing."
Andy, Donna and Jerry: B+
I'm shocked at how restrained both Andy and Donna were during all of the banana talk, and sad that the only role Jerry had in the episode was showing how bad he is at the Internet. Still, everyone did get a few lines, there was some great banana usage and we can all look forward to meeting Jerry's wife in the near future.
Andy's Best Line of the Night: [Ann: "Seniors can be pretty ornery."] "Actually I think it's pronounced 'horny.'"
Donna's Best Line of the Night: "It's not my favorite shirt, but it is my least favorite shirt."
Jerry's Best Line of the Night: "What's bookmarks?"
Ron and Tom: C+
I really enjoyed the cold open and the whole "punishment to fit the crime" premise, and the general conceit of the storyline was nice, but hearing about Tom's tech obsession got old fast -- especially given how grounded in reality it was (in terms of what people actually do online) when Tom is probably the best when he gets to be completely out there, E-720 style. And I get that Ron is changing and now is a little bit more generous about bringing people to his cabin, but the writing just wasn't there for (Le)Ron (James) otherwise. At times, it felt like I was watching Manny and Jay from Modern Family go through their motions of cranky dad/zany son... though I did like the bit about firstname.lastname@example.org and would totally listen to Nacho Average Podcast.
Ron's Best Line of the Night: "I'm proud of you, but also a bit fearful that we're verging on what I call 'feelings territory.' So let's stare at the fire in silence."
Tom's Best Line of the Night: "Just hit a fire hydrant, but I survived. #Unbreakable. #WhatsMrGlassuptothesedays? #whynosequel?" (Also, anyone else notice that Jean-Ralphio retweeted the entirety of Tom's [alleged] crash? Miss that guy.)
Ben and April: B+
For the record, Aubrey Plaza has been killing it this season -- even when she's a background character, she can steal a scene with a single expression. But as much as she and Ben (especially with his robot "impression") were hilarious, the whole Congressman Murray acting like a robot thing was maybe just a tiny bit too cartoony for me. Unlike the whole oversized beverages in "Soda Tax", a public official acting like a cyborg didn't feel relevant or real enough to be great [insert Mitt Romney-related retort here].
Ben's Best Line of the Night: "Why would a robot need to consume organic matter? Sorry."
April's Best Line of the Night: "And I'm April Blart, mall cop." (This made me laugh harder than anything else in the episode, FYI.) And "Hey, we're still gonna assassinate him, right?" was too good not to mention.
Honorable mentions: The randy seniors who immediately responded that the couldn't hear Leslie when she started speaking (despite being just ten years older than her) and shouted out various hazards of sex, including "Partner dies on top of you." Marcia and Marshall Langman, who weren't my favorites but were kind enough to distribute So You Think You Know More Than God and warn us of the dangers of babies in thong underwear. And of course, Perd Hapley, who is no longer allowed inside of Pier 1, and has "some statistics I'd like to share with you now, and they are numbers."
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