Parks and Recreation: The Two Tammys

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Today I'm going to talk about the general direction of the show, and why I think the relationship between April and Andy might be the key to understanding all the relationships on the show.

Annoyingly, this episode took the Modern Family tack of having three unrelated storylines in the same episode, and as with that show, one story inevitably suffers. So let me address the two lesser stories in the episode before discussing the one we all care about: the Many Tammy's of Ron Swanson.

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"Lastly, I hate the name Angelo, so here's your new name - Jello Shot. You with me, J-Shot?"

Tying Ben to Tom's entertainment "empire" is a good play by the writers. Keeping him around City Hall would lead to too many scenes between him and Leslie awkwardly mooning at each other, and the writers seem to have learned all the right lessons from Jim and Pam.

Let's face it, Ben is the straight anchor in the show, and he works best as a center to the more zany plotlines.

And really, what could be zanier than Tom and Jean-Ralphio running an entertainment company? Oh how I've missed Jean-Ralphio, the most loveable douchebag in the history of television. I'd like to think that these two are making enough from Snakejuice to keep these fabulous digs alive.

In other important news, I want a party switch.

DIABETES!

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"Just as good if not exactly the same as the last one."

There was something off with this plotline, and I can't put my finger on exactly what. Part of the problem is that Ann has finally become a funny character in her own right, and Chris is a little too generically "quirky". He doesn't always feel entirely real to me, which sticks out considering how earthbound this show is.

Which is a shame because Ann has never been more defined. She's a dark mirror of Leslie: she has none of Leslie's neuroses, but also none of Leslie's self-confidence. So there's nothing to build on between her and Chris, apart from a certain amount of general actorly chemistry.

Chris Traeger just isn't that interesting unless he's at odds with someone, whether it's Leslie, Ron or Tom. I like having him on the show as a "villain" of sorts, as his brand of villainy is the kind most people would actually encounter in real life. Meaning he doesn't think he's an asshole, but he just kind of is.

Then again, maybe I'm overanalyzing the characters, and these scenes didn't work because they just weren't funny, and didn't tie in to the rest of the show.

RON AND TAMMY PART THREE AND FOUR

Operation Rescue Ron

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"First of all, income tax is illegal!"

We learn a number of new facts about Ron (it's a shame that there isn't more of a fanfic community devoted to this show, because his childhood? Damn.) I would love to see a spin-off of Ron Swanson: The Teenage Years. I imagine it would feature Ron being bossed around by his mother and Tammy One, followed around by manic Tammy 2.

As always, I admire the writers' dedication to traditional storytelling. All the guns are in the first act, and they go off in the third. Foreshadowing to Ron's mother, for example: "Every thirty days I buy shotgun shells and cigarettes to send home to my mom." And thusly, we learn that Tammy 0 is a gun-toting mountain beast.

Even with all the comic detail we get about Ron's backstory, the show never loses sight of one truth in Ron's life: Leslie Knope. The only woman in his life who offers him support instead of discipline. It's incredibly moving that in spite of the disparate women who've tried to pull him in many directions, it's Leslie that makes him man up and shake off all the Tammys.

Operation Golden Dove is in Trouble

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For two episodes in a row, it seems that the writers are setting up Andy and April as Bizarro parallels to all the other relationships in the show.

In Alyssa Rosenberg's piece over at Think Progress, she notes that one of the best parts things about this show is how it doesn't treat love as an end unto itself, and that relationships are a means to secure support, not romantic love necessarily. So because they have a true and fair relationship, of course Ben would support Leslie's choice to leave him and run for office.

Likewise, April and Andy support each other's desires and dreams. Of course, they are much earlier in their life journey, so they don't even know what those dreams are, but for them, it's about enabling each other to figure them out.

But, April clearly has the upper hand in that relationship.  When we meet henpecked Ron, he bears more than one resemblance to Andy, with the same goofball cheeriness and inability to make decisions for himself. And April idolizes Tammy One, for obvious reasons. Tammy One is April in 30 years, if April had never met Andy.

Note the small moment when Andy has an idea and everyone dismisses him. I expect this to come up again in the future.

OTHER

-CONTINUITY ERROR!!!! Shock-horror. Remember how April was Venezuelan? Well, now she's Puerto Rican. Oops.

-Am I the only one who is now hoping for a puppet episode? Also known asThe Simpsons.

-Amy Poehler took a page from Will Arnett with her "jail, jail, jail Ron jail."

-Leslie's look of pride at coming up with "Operation Soaring Falcon" was priceless. C'mon Leslie. Why not go the whole hog and name it Operation Hot Mother?

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Seriously, what is that?

-Patricia Clarkson is so funny I don't even have words to express it. Even her pronunciation of "Terrahote" had me in giggles. But nothing more than "In a sense, yes. But in another, truer sense, no."

What's your favorite part of the latest episode?

This is mine:

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(thank you Tumblr for all the gifs)

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4 Responses to “ Parks and Recreation: The Two Tammys ”

  1. Have to admit to being slightly disappointed by 'Ron & Tammys'... Patricia Clarkson needed more than a single episode plus cameo to establish who Tammy One was and why she inspired such fear, so a lot of the reasons given were told rather than shown. It was also a bit underwhelming that she turned out to be a slightly stereotypical domineering mother-type villain, when I expected her to inspire fear in her cold and calculated way of trying to do what she thought was the best for people, regardless of whether that was what they wanted. (Hence her remark about April's breasts in the previous episode). Still, everything related to Entertainment 720 was as hilarious as would be expected from the Tom/Jean-Ralphio/Ben trifecta. I agree that Ann and Chris' subplot wasn't great, but Rashida Jones' dry line delivery and facial expressions still got laughs from me.

    Here's my review (plus Community and Archer): http://xandermarkham.blogspot.com/2011/09/weird-sexual-tension-community-parks.html

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  2. Actually, April has always been Puerto Rican. She had a boyfriend who was Venuzuelan and spent the summer between seasons 2 and 3 there. But see this clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uFN9dt1FrC0

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  3. theoncominghope1 October 2011 08:13

    You're so right! And I'm a fool.

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  4. theoncominghope1 October 2011 08:15

    I do hope that Tammy One returns. I thought it established her character quite effectively, but then again, I have had multiple teachers just like her, who never smile and inspire fear with every sentence.

    Rashida Jones is great. Which is why I wish they'd give her more room to be funny. Her scenes with Leslie are always highlights of any episode.

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