I cant believe we’re almost halfway through the month. I guess time really flies when the country is a giant shit hole? Honestly, I think that’s why Parks and Recreation constantly draws me in: the people in the show are genuinely good people who want to do good things and work tirelessly to make sure that those good things actually happen. And Season Six continues this, even as Leslie is recalled from office. Unfortunately, Six also includes the departure of Ann and Chris, changing the entire dynamic of the show, but I don’t want to dwell on that. Because it’s Favorite Episode Day!
This season isn’t as strong as the previous one was, but it’s still chock full of awesome writing and episodes (and actually has my favorite episode of all time in it, but that’s for another day). And my favorite just happens to be “Flu Season 2.”
But first, recap: Tom is trying to get a wine taster for his new restaurant, and April and Craig sign up to prove they can be sommeliers. Well, April does it to make fun of people because April, but Craig is actually talented. Ben gets drunk off of blueberry wine and complains to Ron about his parents’ selling their lakehouse, ultimately realizing that he really wants to start a family with Leslie. Andy and Leslie try to get a headliner for the Unity Concert, all while Leslie tries to deal with what seems to be the flu but ends up being pregnancy. Spoiler alert?
Okay, I’m just going to be honest and spoiler my own Favorite Recurring Character challenge: I adore Craig Middlebrooks. I loved him from the moment he entered into the lives of the Parks and Rec gang, but this episode just cemented him in that position. His overzealous passion for literally everything is usually what people notice about him, but I admire his incredibly diverse range of interests and skills. Like who would have thought that a guy who berated a man over Kentucky bluegrass (and demanded an apology for his good friend Donna) would also have a developed wine palate?
Watching the certification of sommeliers was entertaining, but I felt that April’s whole shtick was a little boring? I can’t really pinpoint why I felt it was lackluster, seeing as it’s basically classic April, but maybe it was because it felt a little shoehorned in. They needed something for her to do, so bam, she’s making fun of wine snobs. Donna was also under-used in this episode, too, which is so disappointing. Retta is one of the most talented people on the show, and even though Rashida Jones and Rob Lowe have already made their exits, she still hasn’t gotten a ton of stories dedicated to just her. On the other hand, Craig was trying so hard to impress, and honestly, other than his penchant for random emotional outbursts, I don’t know why Tom was so iffy on him; I mean, the dude makes so many pop culture references that even Tom was probably oblivious to most of them, which I would think would impress Tom. You know, I’m noticing a lot of things I don’t necessarily like about this episode as I’m critiquing it, but I don’t even care. I love this episode.
Anyway, Andy and Leslie attempting to convince Chip McCapp to headline the concert just brought back so many memories of living in Nashville and seeing all the new country shit come out and ugh. First off, I love old country music. Give me anything from the 70s* and before, and you will have a happy Juju. The 80s was … special, and for a few years there in the 90s, country music wasn’t too bad**, but after that? Well, bro country is shit. I hate it. And Chip McCapp? Bro country with a little bit of Toby Keith thrown in. His song, “Beautiful Like My Mom (Support the Troops),” is obviously parody, but I could totally see that coming out of Music City. You have to laugh because it’s fucking true, and I am so glad Leslie and Andy insult him and run out of there. Plus, they got Wilco instead – well, Land Ho – and that’s waayyyyy better than a country Justin Bieber.
Ben’s story doesn’t seem to be as important as the other two, but I absolutely love his campfire chat with the Rons. Sam Elliott’s Ron Dunn helps Ben work through parental issues, while Nick Offerman’s Ron Swanson had been attempting the whole episode to avoid talking about it; but both men’s approaches actually does get Ben to the core of the problem: he is upset with his selfish, petty parents for taking away memories that he’d hoped to share with his own children. Luckily, Leslie is already pregnant with triplets, so he gets his wish – a convenient resolution to this plotline, sure, but I did complain that the Leslie and Ben relationship bogged down Season Four, so it does feel a bit disingenuous of me to gripe about the swiftness of the pregnancy development*** – and he figures out his spirit animal: a baby snow owl, which oddly enough kind of fits Ben?
There’s a lot going on in “Flu Season 2****,” which may be why it seems like a lot of things are just sort of thrown in there, but god, do I love it. From the terrible country song to Andy meeting a fan of his Johnny Karate persona to Ben doing a native cry (at the behest of hippie Ron Dunn) and receiving a look of disdain from Ron Swanson, it really is just stocked with hilarious moments. It might not be the strongest episode, but it is one of the best that Season Six has to offer.
Runners Up: “Filibuster,” “Fluoride,” “Ann and Chris,” and “Second Chunce”
* Dolly Parton is still the queen of everything, but Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn, Glen Campbell, Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Hank Snow, etc. are frequently played through my Pandora and Spotify accounts on a regular basis.
** I don’t care what anybody says; Joe Diffie’s “John Deere Green” is a goddamn masterpiece. See also: “Independence Day” by Martina McBride and anything by Patty Loveless.
*** Plus, they do the smart thing and skip over the pregnancy, which got a major thumbs up from me. As much as I loved the Ann pregnancy, I don’t think I could have handled more pregnancy jokes. Rashida Jones did such a good job as the crazy preggo lady that doing it again would have made it look like they were just rehashing.
**** The original “Flu Season” is definitely superior, but whatever.
Art Credit: Reppiced