'Parks and Recreation' recap, 'Sex Education'

In LeslieLand:

Leslie's campaigning for sex education for seniors because of the rising STD rates in that age group. She and Ann, Donna, and Andy are role playing being old people, asking Ann their "grossest sex questions." It's nice when they remember that Ann is actually a nurse. 

When meeting with the seniors, we find Pawnee's seniors think the biggest danger of sex is your partner dying during it. When Leslie begins a demonstration with a condom and a banana, one gentleman in the audience inquires, "But what do you do when the banana is soft and mushy and doglegs sharply to the left?"

Right as Donna is about to demonstrate God knows what with a cucumber, two and a half bananas, and a pineapple, Chris comes running in and puts a halt to the proceedings.

Following on his heels are two clean cut-looking people, Marcia and Marshall, the town's "morality watchdogs." They're associated with "Society for Family Stability Foundation" and they are there to assert the "abstinence only curriculum."

Ann protests that's only for schools when Chris chips in that because of the way the bill was written, actually it does apply to any government employee talking about sex education.

Marcia and Marshall are on Perd Hapley's show "Ya Heard with Perd" to talk about the abstinence education program.

Ann thinks the abstinence education program is vital, but Leslie points out that public opinion is against changing the law.

Marcia and Marshall are meeting with Ann and Leslie and are giving them their pamphlet, suggesting they start with Chapter 3: There's a Party in My Pants And You're Not Invited.

Ann challenges Leslie that parroting the abstinence-only stance is not like her, that she's "Not acting like herself." Leslie says to Ann, "Really? You want to go there?" I guess now is a good time to mention that Ann first showed up in the episode wearing a cowboy hat and fringed jacket that was a gift from her boyfriend and is now wearing a Western shirt, also a gift from the boyfriend.

Ann says, "Go where?" So Leslie explains that Ann always dresses like whatever guy she's dating. (And if I remember correctly, the wardrobe department has done exactly that over the years. Nice continuity.) When Ann sputters out a feeble reply, she notes that she's "really off her comeback game lately."

Leslie walks off in anger and then Marshall swooshes by Ann and trills, "You look like Annie Oakley and Pippi Longstocking had a baby and I love it." So, yeah, the abstinence only husband is in the closet.

In his presentation to the seniors, Marshall, who looks a tiny bit like a Ken doll from the '80s, is "rapping" while accompanying himself on a synthesizer. After Leslie tells the seniors they should wait until marriage to have sex, they rebel, even explicitly asking for the condom demonstration again.

Leslie wrestles with herself and then BACK OUT COMES THE BANANA. The scene ends with Leslie throwing condoms at the audience. Still in their packets of course; it's not like they're balloons at a political rally.

Leslie ends up getting censured by the mayor. She asks Chris, "As my boss, what should my move here be?

Chris reminds her, "Actually, Leslie you're my boss now." Leslie replies, "That's right --Why am I still weirdly scared of you?" Chris explains it's because he's very confident and makes a lot of eye contact. He recommends, as city manager, that she should formally apologize  and from now on stick to the letter of the law. He then adds, "But between you and me, as your best friend, I admire what you did up there."

Before Leslie's appearance on Perd's show, she and Ann make up. Then on the show, Leslie goes off message and declares the abstinence education "old fashioned." She proclaims she will wear the censure like a badge of honor, and uses her American flag pin to affix it to her blazer.

Later, Leslie's on the phone with Ben, telling him that "They're killing me in the press." She doesn't care; she's fired up. Ben admires her spirit and offers to read the new bill she's drafting. They exchange "I love yous" and Leslie asks, "What are you wearing?" Ben, still in his office, replies, "I can't do that right now." Leslie's dirty chuckle in response is ADORABLE.

In TomTown:

Tom is in court because of an accident, which he caused by tweeting while driving. The judge punishes him by taking all his technological devices for a month. He builds a "real life" Pinterest board by putting square pictures on a corkboard and a fake iPhone out of paper. Ron offers to let Ted go to his remote cabin ("So far away from civilization the electric company isn't even aware there's a structure there") to cope with the loss of screens.

At the cabin, Tom's chopping wood while Ron looks in. When a splinter flies into Tom's finger, he yelps, "I got stung by the wood." He starts rattling off devices he could use to look up how to get a splinter out, while Ron calmly pulls out his pocketknife and removes the splinter. Ron wants Tom to "purge" his system of all his electronic addictions, by talking about what he does on all these things with screens.

Later, Ron and Tom are in a canoe and Tom is still talking about his web activities. Then they're walking through the woods with shotguns and Tom is still talking when Ron shoots in the air. He may or may not be actually aiming at something.

As the sun sets and Ron is starting the fire, Tom's still talking. Then later, at night, Tom is still talking when Ron finally tells him to shut up. Tom says, "But you told me to purge." Ron replies "I didn't know how much you had in your system" and declares Tom an addict and tells him he needs to change.

Tom tells the camera, away from Ron, "I've downloaded every episode of 'Intervention'; I know what to do here." Tom then gives the standard rehab line, to which Ron responds, "I'm proud of you but I'm fearful we're verging  on what I call 'feelings territory.'"

Later, Ron catches Tom in his car, sending out messages on a "burner" he bought at Best Buy. Ron, exasperated, drives them back to the city.

In Ron's office, Ron asks Tom why he has to be constantly distracted. Tom explains that a lot of stuff in his life hasn't been going great (RIP Entertainment 720 and his marriage) so he'd rather play Doodlejump than think about it.

Tom is moaning at his desk about how bored he is. Ron gives him a "non-electronic book made of paper from a tree." It's a 1982 auto repair manual. He's to read it and then help Ron repair his car. He also makes Tom promise in the future that if he's talking to another human being he looks at them instead of the screen. He concludes with, "If you ever need to discuss your problems with someone, find Leslie. She lives for that crap."

In AprilVille:

In DC, when meeting their boss Congressman David Murray, April introduces herself as "April Blart, Mall Cop." Murray, of course, doesn't notice and calls Ben "Pat."

Later, April is watching Murray and is convinced he's a robot because he's been staring into space all morning. She says that his thoughts are "1, 1, 0, 1. Must consume babies for fuel."

Ben scoffs and replies, "Why would a robot need to consume organic matter?" He immediately realizes what a nerd he is for that reply and apologizes. When Ben and April go in to talk to Murray and find out if he's watching a tv (he isn't) he repeats his earlier comment of "It's a hot one out there; stay cool."

Ben is asking one of the congressman's handlers about his robotic nature. The guy happily explains that it's great; that Murray can turn it on when he has to and otherwise he just sits there. He's almost gleeful when he adds that there are "no surprises." We see the personality "switch one" when he records a promo to air back in Ohio.

In the after-credits sequence, Ben does his best "robot" impression, which is so nerdy but so cute that even April responds to the joke.

Non-plot-related funnies:

-Jerry checks his email by opening Alta Vista and typing "Please go to Yahoo.com"

-Donna when asked how she likes Ann's new shirt: "It's not my favorite shirt, but it IS my least favorite shirt."

-At the beginning of her first talk with the seniors, Leslie asks, "Can everyone hear me ok?" and the crowd unanimously replies, "No." Cheap, easy gag, but it made me laugh.

-Perd when introducing an infographic on screen, "There are some statistics I'd like to share with you now and they ARE numbers."

-When discussing emojis, Tom says there is an Indian guy but he's wearing a turban, so that's a little racist.

-Perd calls his fans "Perdverts" because of course he does.

-Marcia paints a nightmare scenario that ends with "and then we have babies wearing thongs. Is that what you want?" To which Leslie quietly and sarcastically replies, "Yes. Yes, that's what I want."

-Marshall raps, "I waited 'til marriage and then some to do it."

-Perd's new segment is "Are You There, Perdverts? It's Me, Perd, Hosting a New Segment."

Overall, a funny episode and a good one for the Ann and Leslie friendship. This is one of my favorite female friendships currently on tv. I like that they fight like real friends but then make up like real friends. And the look Ann gives Leslie right before she rebels is a small moment but says much bigger things about how these two women support one another.

My only criticism of the show would be the running but unspoken gag that Marshall is clearly gay and in the closet. His ultra-camp gay man dates back to the days of JM J Bullock and there's nothing fresh or original about the joke or the performance. The only redeeming thing is that "Parks & Rec" at least trusts its audience enough that no one explicitly spelled it out for us in dialogue.

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad