Posted by: ckckred | May 3, 2012

The Parks and Rec Watch: The Debate

Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) debates against Bobby Newport (Paul Rudd)

Parks and Recreation established itself in its second season as TV’s best comedy, and has kept that spot ever since.  Last Thursday saw perhaps not only the season’s strongest episode but the series’.

The main plot behind season 4 of Parks and Rec is Leslie’s campaign for mayor.  From the moment Parks and Rec started, the audience saw Leslie as a dedicated worker of the Parks Department.  Sure, the writers make her overhyped about her job (that’s one of Parks and Rec‘s greatest charms), but they’ve always shown her as a strong, dedicated leader who’d do anything for Pawnee, despite the fact that she’s constantly hassled by the townspeople’s constant complaints.

Bobby Newport, the other major candidate for mayor, is the perfect example of the anti-Leslie.  He’s lazy, spoiled, and idiotic, but he’s the biggest celebrity in town because his dad’s the owner of Sweetums, the local candy factory.  Paul Rudd gives a terrific performance as Newport (Emmys, pleasedon’t ignore this), and pushes all the right notes on Parks and Rec.

“The Debate” was essentially the showdown between Leslie and Bobby.  When Leslie gives a detailed critique of Newport, Newport replies, like a two-year old, “That hurt my feelings,” gaining the sympathy of the entire crowd.  The problem is most of Pawnee is about as bright as Newport.

But by the end of the episode, Leslie turns around and easily wins the debate.  After Bobby’s threat that if he didn’t win, Sweetums would move away from Pawnee, Leslie points out that Newport is selfish enough to blackmail the entire town for the election.  Soon, the entire town is behind Leslie, and even Newport seems supportive.

What makes the episode so sweet was the conclusion at the end.  For most Parks and Rec episodes this season, Leslie has tried to set up her campaign after her original advisors left.  But Ben and the entire Parks Department replace them, and though each episode Leslie faces a grave situation, she barely manages to solve it in the end.  Amy Poehler’s performance as Leslie is so great in this episode, I’ll throw my television on the curb if she gets ignored by the Globes and Emmys again (Poehler also wrote and directed this episode).  Poehler makes Leslie likable and funny, a rare trait for most comedies these days.

The side plots for the episode were also quite strong (I especially liked the part featuring Andy doing movie reenactments and Ron hijacking someone else’s cable).  The Tom-Ann storyline, a little bit of a crutch for season 4, also played out stronger here too, as we learned that Chris still has feelings for Ann.  Whether Ann will come back to Chris, I don’t know, though I have a feeling in my gut they will.

The next two episodes will feature the finale of Leslie’s campaign.  Will Leslie triumph, or Newport win?  Either way, it’s sure to be great.



  1. My wife and I both love this show and she actually works for a parks department for a township, so it’s fun to see the correlations between this and reality.

    • It’s a real fun show, and one of the best on TV. It’s really interesting how Parks and Rec takes politics on a small scale level without being too political. Thanks for commenting!

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