The Moth Chase

Elevating the Art of Procrastanalysis – Academics wasting time on pop culture

Equal Gender Employment Commission

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Parks and Rec - S05E11

Daniel,

We’ve talked before about Parks and Rec’s ability to handle political topics with grace, and this episode was no exception. This week, they brought up and handled the topic of gender inequality in politics. And, it was pretty hilariously done. On a larger scale, this episode was about generation gaps. Leslie and April had to fight against an older, male dominated mindset in government, specifically the sanitation department, which we all know is the smelly glue that holds the city together. Ron and Ann struggle to deal with Diane’s daughters and how to relate to them. Similarly, Tom wants to learn how to deal with his customers. And Chris is trying to understand how Shauna Malwae-Tweep is defining their “personal relationship.”

Looking at April and Leslie’s garbage adventure first, I loved how the show avoided stereotypical jokes and found fresh material in a topic that isn’t exactly unique. April brought her fantastic sarcasm to the commission, telling Leslie that she will “never land a beau with that domineering tone.” Chris has a moment of “male guilt” when every department sent only men to the Gender Equality Commission, realizing that he is “part of the problem.” And, the old government employee is so over the top in his disparaging comments about Leslie that it was hilarious (Let’s all give a round of applause for…the girl.). Even Pawnee’s first female Councilwoman was flawed in a hilarious Pawnee fashion, like using an old receipt for a handkerchief. After the feminist obstacle of a huge refrigerator presented itself to Leslie, her ability to come up with creative solutions through her fantastic knowledge of the city and its potential needs proved to be better than anything the sanitation department was able to come up with. I felt like that was a creative way to approach the feminist angle for this storyline. Although, I am still curious as to how they got the fridge on the wheeled pallet, even with all the women. If you gave me 6 strong men or women, I would still have no idea how to lift that fridge at all.

Then there was the basketball storyline, which was mainly funny from a physical comedy stand point. Watching Chris Pratt throw himself into a padded wall is always going to be pretty funny. But, even funnier is watching Chris Pratt angrily run over and shove two children to the ground so that he can have an open layup. And, Ben’s super fundamental approach to the game was awesome to see. And by the end, Tom realizes that he doesn’t need to be good at basketball because his clients are excited about him being good at basketball; they just want to emulate the NBA stars that dress up like hipsters after the game. The show was able to drop in some more NBA stars from the midwest in Durant and Westbrook. That seemed like a more fitting choice than Lebron and D-Wade due to the show’s small town, midwestern feel.

There were some great moments in the Ann/Ron storyline, including the girls painting Ron’s shoes completely red. Also, Ann finally got to win one by relating to the girls after her hilarious failed attempt in their first encounter. I’ll let you elaborate on this storyline a little more.

What? I love garbage,

Bryan

Bryan,

I thought this was one of the stronger Ann-Ron subplots we’ve seen on the show, which admittedly isn’t a super-high bar to clear when the main gist of most Perkins-Swanson stories is that Ron knows nothing about Ann Perkins, including her name.  (We got a nice callback to those storylines when Ron informed Ann that she looks more like a Hansen than a Perkins). Still, I could relate to Ann’s overcompensating behavior around the girls (“Hey dudettes, you stoked about the weekend?”), and I like the way Diane’s daughters are presented both as real kids who want to cut each other’s hair (and get distressed when Ann’s scary story gets too murdery) and agents of chaos (or warrior princesses in training?) who can sweep through Ron’s office like a tornado and drive a broken man to heavy drinking at work*.  It was nice to see Ann win one, even if it came by the sketchy/awesome means of letting the girls go wild with her nursing kit**.  Meanwhile, we saw Ron admit to loving another human being for possibly the first time on the show, much to his mortification (remember what a hard time Leslie had getting him to admit to being her friend a few episodes ago?).  Diane’s interaction with Ron at the end of the episode underlined the fact that this stage of their relationship is one small step for Diane, one giant evolutionary leap for Ron Swanson.

*Then again, Ron probably does that every day.
**This could have gone so much worse than it did.

Speaking of relationships, does it seem weird that a progressive, vaguely metrosexual, open-to-anything, supernaturally youthful person like Chris would be confused by the concept of a “group hang” or an ambiguously defined relationship?  We’ve seen Chris date other women (like Ann and Millicent Gergich) around Shawna Malwae-Tweep’s age, but I guess it’s possible that he’s always done so in a very traditional, boyfriend-girlfriend manner.  As bigoted Councilman Milton pointed out, Chris is a “very beautiful man”, and he seemed to be unaccustomed to rejection or any surprises in his relationships until last season’s Millicent debacle.  I liked Chris’s amiably perplexed disposition throughout, as well as his chagrin at sort-of-dating a member of the Old Media.

In addition to the generation gap you mentioned, “Women in Garbage” was about characters getting out of their respective comfort zones.  While Chris, Ann, and Ron all dealt with uncomfortable or confusing new ground , Tom struggled with his complete lack of basketball skills with which to impress middle school kids before making a clever lateral move into sports press conference fashion.  Predictably, Leslie and April thrived the most in their new environment — public sanitation — since Leslie is too driven and competent to fail and April loves both sticking it to the man and garbage.  While their efforts led directly to more female sanitation workers in Pawnee, this episode was a reminder that progress and change are often incremental, whether on a personal or political level, and are achieved one small victory at a time.  #whoathatogotserious #moralsandstuff #thisepisodewasalsofunnyandIlaughed

Please don’t tell anyone about my prescription deodorant,

Daniel

  • I have no idea how they got the fridge onto that dolly, so I’m going to say levers.  Possibly pulleys, as well.
  • “So…you guys like Coldplay?”
  • Even Diane’s kids got in on the Jerry burn action this week.jerry_gergich
  • “Mmmm, if I was 300 years older, Councilman…”
  • Tom might not know sports, but NBA style (specifically that of the up-and-coming generation of players like Westbrook and Durant) couldn’t be in a better evolutionary phase for Rent-A-Swag, to the point where it’s almost unbelievable that he wasn’t already aware of it.
  • Andy’s layup-cum-technical foul was one of the most triumphant plays since Buster played soccer on Arrested Development.
  • “…and it’s trash.  It’s filled with trash.  Maybe there’s something on the bottom — no, it’s trash.”

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