Parks and Recreation: “Sex Education”
Leslie teaches old people how to put a condom on.
October 20, 2012 7:34 pmSam Lindauer
When Parks and Recreation takes on larger national issues in the context of the small (often backwards) town of Pawnee, the show often able to put the debate into perspective and do it with a light touch. In “Sex Education” the show returned to the same well it did with “Soda Tax”. That’s not to say this was a bad move, in fact the portion of this week’s episode that dealt with Pawnee’s senior citizen sex problem was the strongest part of the episode. The problem was there didn’t seem to be enough there for a full episode which made the other stories in the episode feel all the more superfluous.
Leslie takes on a recent outbreak of chlamydia among the elderly in typical “go-get-‘em” fashion, and she is forced to take on the über-religious Langman couple (Marcia and her very flamboyant husband Marshall). While Pawnee’s senior citizens are hilariously horny, the town is overwhelmingly against sex education other than abstinence only. It seems strange so many seniors are sexually liberated, yet the town is otherwise very puritan. For me the highlight of the episode came when seniors aired their problems, such as what they should do if the have multiple partners at the same time, or a mushy “banana”.
Where the episode faltered for me was with Tom’s recent court punishment that can only be described as “sitcom-y”. After getting into an accident while tweeting and driving (“Four green lights in a row #blessed"), Tom is sentenced to not being allowed access to any screens. Not bad considering he endangered he lives of others and himself. Tom is taken under the wing of Ron and brought to the woods to try and purge himself of his technology addiction. He proves to be too annoying for Ron to really handle and messes up further, relapsing and crashing Ron’s car while texting. The resolution to the problem felt quick and dirty with Tom finally admitting that he is so addicted to technology because he’s unhappy with his life. It was a moment that did not feel earned and Tom ended up feeling more annoying this week instead of charmingly irritating.
Finally, we revisit Ben and April who are still in Washington working on Congressman Murray’s campaign. They find out, when Murray finally makes an appearance, that he is nothing but a shell of a human. He’s a lifeless robot whose advisors just fill with the emptiest sound bites. Ben is clearly disappointed he’s working for a man who really is just a puppet. April and Ben’s back-and-forth this week was particularly strong, and I wish that this would have taken as much time as Tom’s story.
Back in Pawnee, Leslie decides to stick up for what she believes and that, of course, gets her in trouble. She gets censured for giving out condoms despite the rules on the books being that she can only teach abstinence-only. The show offers another easy fix, though it feels a bit more in character than Tom’s quick psychoanalysis. She visits, “Ya Heard, with Perd” and goes to say that she’s sorry only for the town having such shitty laws and she’s going to fight for what she thinks is right. I’m curious if the show will go forward with the sex education laws or if it’ll just kind of forget about them. It was a solid end to what was a solid episode.
I’m always happy to hang out in Pawnee, even when it’s not the greatest episode of the season. I feel Tom’s technology detox and a bit of Ann not knowing how to be implemented into the show took away from the stronger A-story. I feel like the show’s at its best when it focuses on just one story or maybe even two sometimes. But one could argue that there were four stories going on (Ann’s relationship issues are really a non-entity as the show is still trying to figure out what the hell to do with her). If this week was just Leslie and Ben’s story it may have been more to bite into, but I left this week feeling like I got too little of the good stuff to feel sated.
- Really, the whole Ann story about how she dresses up based on her relationship was a bit insane. The Ann-Tom thing didn’t work, this whole cowboy boyfriend business fell flat as well. I hope they can figure out how to best utilize Rashida Jones.
- I’d like to declare myself a “Perd-vert” as a am a huge fan of Perd. This week, Perd was probably the star delivering great lines like, “I have some statistics I’d like to share with you and they are numbers.”
- So far this season has felt a bit weaker compared to season’s past. It’s at that five season mark which is usually the last year most great shows are great, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Parks and Recreation can still be awesome for a couple more years.
- I think separating Ben and April has made the show feel a bit disjointed when their not being in Pawnee isn’t the focus of the episode. It’s almost like a spin-off within the original show.
|FIND YOUR GEEK RATING
out of 10