That’s it. We’ve officially seen the best sitcom wedding in history. Everyone else, don’t even bother trying to compete.
Let’s break down the reasons why Leslie and Ben’s wedding will always win…
1. It’s simultaneously ridiculously romantic and completely nerdy, just like Ben and Leslie. This wedding has all the traditional elements viewers want from a wedding episode. We get to see Leslie (Amy Poehler) walk down the aisle surrounded by her work family, and she and Ben (Adam Scott) exchange vows they wrote about each other. And the clips that accompany these vows are maximally chosen to wring every last possible tear out of viewers – I know that I had to pause this episode a few times to keep it together.
It’s particularly special because what we love about these two dorks and their relationship isn’t lost amongst the candlelight and rose petals. It’s exactly right that Ben would joke that Leslie take his last name, and that they both know it’s a joke even before he confirms that it is. And only Leslie would write a letter to Ken Burns asking that he be the man to walk her down the aisle. The most moving part of the whole wedding, though, is that it takes place in the Parks department office. Not only is it where Ben and Leslie first met, but it’s also the place that Leslie values most – where she gets to make the city of Pawnee and the lives of everyone in it better. It’s only fitting that Ben and Leslie’s marriage starts there.
2. The wedding brings out the best in all of the Parks department staffers and their relationships with Ben and Leslie. It’s another opportunity for the staff to give back to Leslie in their own unique ways, which is always fun. Ann (Rashida Jones) puts her Project Runway fandom to good use to make Leslie the perfect wedding dress – made from her work documents. Chris (Rob Lowe) frames the document that sent him and Ben to Pawnee three years ago and presents it to Ben as a gift. And Jerry (Jim O’Heir) even officiates the wedding without screwing up. One of the most pleasant surprises from the whole episode is what Tom (Aziz Ansari) does for Leslie: give up the spotlight for a night and let Ben and Leslie have their moment without any theatrics. Even Ron (Nick Offerman) gets swept up in the whole affair, walking Leslie down the aisle and openly admitting to her that he cares about her: “You are a wonderful person. Your friendship means a lot to me. And you look very beautiful.”
3. Lil’ Sebastian(‘s impersonator Bucky) appears! Even if it isn’t actually the beloved mini-horse himself, his look-alike is still enough to brighten the proceedings.
4. Ron punches Councilman Jamm in the face. Self-explanatory.
It’s pretty obvious that any episode that follows the wedding is going to pale in comparison, but even if it hadn’t, ‘Correspondents’ Lunch’ would have been a bit disappointing. It’s an episode that seems to have all the right ingredients: Perd Hapley, Leslie doing impressions, Ann actually doing something for herself. Yet there’s one thing missing: the comedy. This episode isn’t really all that funny.
‘Lunch’ definitely has some great jokes. One of the best is Andy (Chris Pratt) saying to Ben “I farted five minutes ago, and didn’t even smell it until just now. That’s how tight these pants are.” This is especially amusing since it punctuates his astute observations about how Ben could better run the Sweetums foundation. And all of Leslie’s gifts to the staff from her honeymoon with Ben are as entertaining as usual, but I actually laughed out loud at April (Aubrey Plaza) and Andy’s gifts (a three-pack of white tee shirts from Target for Andy, since his were all dirty, and report to April that her mysterious box has been thrown into a volcano).
Still, the episode’s stories just aren’t funny enough. The correspondents’ lunch is a great set-up for the A-story, but it wastes the potentially great comedy of Leslie trying to be funny and bombing in front of the crowd and focuses instead on the joke stealing and email hacking subplots. The email hacking could even be funny if Leslie has some truly embarrassing emails to be leaked, but her Lord of the Ring pen-pal letters with Ben simply aren’t cutting it.
- Chris’s therapy really seems to be working, and it means that he’s becoming a much more substantial character. His speech to Andy about picking himself up after failing the exam to become a police officer isn’t the series of positive platitudes it would have been before the therapy. It’s much more honest than that, showing that Chris recognizes that life can be rough sometimes but that people can get overcome obstacles. I hope that this is a sign of more interesting storylines to come for his character.
- There usually isn’t too much emphasis placed on cinematography since it’s a mockumentary, but for ‘Leslie and Ben,’ there are some truly beautiful visuals. Leslie and Ron walking down the barely lit hallway is a lovely little beat. And the brief shot of Leslie and Ben sitting under the flower mural in their wedding garb (top picture) is sweet and perfectly composed.
- Who wants to hazard a guess as to what April asked Ben and Leslie to throw into the volcano? I suspect that she had them destroy the evidence from her days as a secret assassin working for the CIA.
Your turn! What is your favorite part about the wedding? That Leslie is so awesome she’s willing to put her wedding on hold so that Ron can walk her down the aisle? That April and Tom make Leslie her own wedding scrapbook? That DJ Roomba makes a reappearance? Sound off in the comments below!
Parks and Recreation airs Thursdays at 8:30 EST on NBC.