“Parks and Recreation” offered up one of its most overtly political episodes ever in “Sex Education.” It was also maybe the out-and-out funniest episode of the season so far.
Leslie’s frequent nemesis Marcia Langman (Darlene Hunt) has always meant reliable laughs, and the introduction of her equally strident and, to use Leslie’s word, “vivacious” husband Marshall (Todd Sherry) added a nice new wrinkle, and gave us another window into Pawnee’s weird political climate.
The episode is designed so our sympathies are with Leslie in the sex-ed argument — regardless of how you feel about teaching abstinence in schools, it’s patently silly that Pawnee’s law applies to senior citizens as well. Framing the debate this way helps soften the political aspect of the story.
So, too, does Leslie’s vacillation on the issue. She’s still figuring out her role as a council member and the stakes involved. In the past when she’s tangled with Marcia or anyone else, she at least had the security of knowing she wasn’t likely to lose her job. That’s not the case anymore.
Leslie’s dilemma also gave the show a reason to gin up some conflict with Ann, who spent the entire episode in western wear thanks to her new, never-seen boyfriend Ricky. Like Marcia Langman, Ann and Leslie at odds is almost always good for comedy, and the two of them calling each other out for their respective flaws — Leslie’s indecision and Ann’s tendency to get caught up in whatever relationship she’s in — worked well.
And of course, any episode that features Perd Hapley and his Perd-verts (“That’s what I call fans of the show, because my name is Perd”) is going to score some serious comedy points around here.
Each of the two subplots clicked too. Ron helping Tom detox from his multi-screen addiction played out just about like you’d think it would, but the little touches — Tom looking over his shoulder at an Alta Vista-searching Jerry, Ron shutting down any feelings-based talk (“Let’s just stare into the fire”) — made it work.
In Washington, meanwhile, Ben and April finally meet the man they’re working for and come away less than impressed, except maybe at the congressman’s ability to sit and stare blankly at a wall when he’s not needed. It feels like this might be the seed of a story that gets them back to Pawnee, but it was also another showcase for how well Aubrey Plaza and Adam Scott play off one another.
What did you think of “Parks and Rec” this week?