Yayyyyy, Season Five! Or as this challenge has previously noted, my favorite season! I love every single episode, almost as much as I love my two cats, but which one do I continually go back to?
April says it best:
“Women in Garbage” has three stories going on:
- Leslie and April are trying to prove that the sanitation department should hire more women.
- Ron and Ann watch Diane’s daughters while Diane’s babysitter is out of town.
- Tom recruits Ben and Andy to help him learn how to play basketball to impress his clientele – tweens, teens, and everything in between – at Rent-A-Swag.
The last of these isn’t necessarily the best of the three, so I won’t talk about it much except to say that Tom really needs to stick to his strengths and realize that athleticism is not an area of expertise for him.
But the other two?? Loooooove.
First off, the main story is true to both April’s and Leslie’s characters. April’s love affair with garbage – and her subsequent violation of personal privacy – is quite possibly the best thing ever, but there’s a big part of me that wishes April would have taken over the sanitation department. I feel like she would have been so happy there, and she would have had so many people she could be mean to. Then again, maybe the experience would have been like when she toured a mortuary and discovered the job she wanted as a child was underwhelming and a little too depressing for even her. Plus, she was perfect for running the animal control department, so I guess everything worked out for her? And Leslie figuring out a way to circumvent a failure by relying on other people (as well as thinking of ways to help others) is so classic Leslie that I felt inspired. I mean, not that that doesn’t happen on a daily basis, anyway, but still. Leslie’s resourcefulness is well-documented in the series – like when she turns the wall Eagleton put up into a boundary for a Eagleton-Pawnee wiffleball league field – and her brilliance is always inspired by her friends, which is the longest running theme in this show: we are only as good as the people we surround ourselves by.
The second story with Ron and Ann is so absolutely perfect, too. It’s the first time Ron ever admits that he loves Diane, which is the ultimate payoff for this storyline obviously, but the interplay between Ron and Ann is what makes it work so well. One of the funnier bits is when Ron can’t understand why Ann’s last name is not Hanson, and of course, watching Ann join in with Diane’s daughters as they chant, “Ron loves Mommy,” is a major highlight, but here’s the major thing: I loved seeing them interact in a way that did not involve Leslie. More often than not, Leslie is the main reason that Ann and Ron would be talking or working together, and while I do get that Leslie really is the glue that holds the series together, I like seeing the other characters have relationships outside of her (see: Donna and Tom). The episode also got me to thinking about the a few seasons back – maybe season three? – where Ann spent the whole twenty-two or whatever minutes of the show trying to get Ron and April to talk to her for a full minute. Past Ann would have been so impressed with “Women in Garbage” Ann. This also sets up Ann’s later decision to have a child, I believe. I don’t think it’s ever explicitly stated that her time with the girls inspired that decision, but being able to have a good time with kids helped her realize that she was ready for parenthood. I’m actually going to go more deeply into both Ann and Ron in their character posts, but this episode is actually a major one for both, so I’m gonna stop here before I have to repeat myself.
Runners Up: “Two Parties,” “Emergency Response,” “Article Two,” and “Are You Better Off?”