RIP, Trainwreck Ann. You will certainly be missed. But if her replacement by level-headed baby-wanting Ann means more interesting storylines for Rashida Jones to work with, then I’m all for it.
Let’s break it down…
It’s been a while since the series has featured Ann Perkins with a substantial story. The writers have never really known what to do with her, since her primary function seems to be responding to and helping Leslie (Amy Poehler). And she occasionally has funny moments when she gets to be the less-than-straightwoman who gets red highlights in her hair and makes out with random juicers at the Pawnee Harvest Festival. So for a whole story to be focused on Ann and something she wants to achieve for herself that doesn’t depend on getting a man (even if she does need to get his sperm) is quite a big step forward.
The execution of this change is slightly uneven, though. We did get to see that Ann may have some latent interest in taking care of kids in “Women in Garbage,” helping Ron (Nick Offerman) take care of Diane’s (Lucy Lawless) two monsters. But still it’s a pretty big jump to get from watching two eight-year-old girls cutting off each others’ hair to wanting to raise a baby as a single mom. And it seems like even more of a stretch that one of the three men that Ann would consider taking seed from would be Howard Tuttleman, aka The Douche (Nick Kroll). Even Tom (Aziz Ansari) would be a much better candidate than that guy, and he didn’t make the cut of potential sperm donors.
Ultimately, it’s Leslie who gets the best material out of the story line. There is no other way she could respond to her friend’s empowered attempt to have a baby as a single woman than to pull out a color-coded binder with a cartoon drawing of Ann’s reproductive system on the cover that says “Let’s do this!”
Of course, the three gentlemen plagued by food poisoning own this episode. Nothing is quite as brilliant as Leslie or Chris (Rob Lowe) surviving the flu outbreak of 2011, but watching Ben (Adam Scott) roll around on the floor to call Tom with his nose is a beautiful sight gag. Offerman is perfect in this scene, somehow managing to convey Ron’s pride and manliness even though he looks as though his every organ could explode at any moment. It all culminates with a half-stride-half-waddle over to the phone that is sheer genius.
It isn’t until the tag, as Leslie gushes over her perfect man Ben and his choice of J.J.’s Diner as their wedding caterer, that I realized that these two soul mates have hardly been on screen together the past few episodes. It’s a credit to the writers that they can write stories that are engaging and memorable without constantly relying on this ace pairing. And when they do put Ben and Leslie in a scene together, it feels refreshing and sweet and not overdone.
April (Aubrey Plaza) and Andy (Chris Pratt) finally get a story together this week after weeks apart as well. April has been growing up mighty quickly this season, so it’s a nice change of pace to be reminded of April’s misanthropic disposition. And it’s Andy who pushes her to be herself in the face of pervy Pawneeans like Harris. This story couldn’t come at a better time, because Andy’s been so buffoonish lately he borders on becoming a caricature. It’s episodes like this that help us remember that Andy can actually be a good influence on April and why their relationship is worth exploring.
- How devastating is Ben’s desperate declaration that calzones are now dead to him? Channeling his inner Scarlett O’Hara, he even says to Chris, “As God as my witness, they’re dead to me.” This is coming from the man who almost founded the first ever Low-Cal Calzone Zone!
- Leslie wants to find Ann a wonderful man who will fill her home with “multi-ethnic genius babies.” Who do you think Leslie might have in mind for Ann, other than Channing Tatum?
Your turn! Are you ready for Ann to be a mother? Is Ann herself ready to be a mother? And what is more cuterus than Ann’s uterus? Sound off in the comments below!
Parks and Recreation airs Thursdays at 8:30 on NBC.