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Headscratchers: Parks and Recreation
  • As with its counterpart The Office, the show's Mockumentary format makes for a lot of Fridge Logic. Sometimes the characters don't acknowledge the fact that people are always filming them. The episode "Christmas Scandal" makes a big deal out of the paparazzi taking pictures of Leslie with Dexhart, but no one seems to remember that Leslie is already being followed around everywhere by a filming crew. Ultimately the documentary style is just used for presentation, and should not be examined too closely.
    • The most glaring example is in "End of the World," when Andy and April are trying to film an amateur action movie. They complain about having to use a crappy cell phone camera to film it, despite having a filming crew with a working camera recording all of this. Andy even speaks right into the camera before smashing through the glass door.
      • Well, that's different. Are they really going to pay the documentary crew to film the movie the way they want? Filming it on the side as a documentary is one thing, filming a movie for them and letting them edit footage they aren't paying for is something else entirely.
    • I figured they're just dancing on top of the fourth wall, dancing like nobody's watching. Alternatively, the talking heads and glances to the camera only happen in the characters' heads.
      • That can't be the case. At one point, Tom is addressing someone, doing a talking head but the scene stays with Ron, who grabs him and interrupts.
    • Considering they're public officials, this is even worse than The Office. This should be... a lot more scandalous. Not to mention the implications at "The Trial of Leslie Knope."
  • April's personal assistant position seems to be a regular nine-to-five type job, but "Media Blitz" indicates she's still in college. It's unclear how or when she's taking her classes.
    • The Pawnee book and "Smallest Park" confirm that she's in community college and only taking a few credits per semester.
  • Ron is supposed to be libertarian. He even says in the episode Sweetums people have the choice to put what ever crap they want into themselves no matter how damaging. However, only five episodes later he vehemently speaks against the legalization of marijuana. This might be an intentional moment of hypocrisy caused by his dislike of Michael Tansley's "hippie" lifestyle.
    • I don't think he ever says he's really against legalization of marijuana. It's just that Tansley (1) goes on and on about legalization (Ron's reaction appeared to be a simple "Jesus Christ here we go again" to me) and (2) Ron considers him a hippie loser. I mean, he gets high on the job.
      • Exactly: Not hypocrisy, just disgust. Just because you think alcohol should remain legal doesn't mean you'd appreciate someone endlessly talking about it and using it on the job. [Not exactly the same thing, but in a lot of people's mind close]
      • The same concept (and basically the same jokes) recurs when he meets his "doppelgänger" Ron Dunn. Again, the same defence is possible: it's disapproval of this lifestyle on the level of taste, rather than thinking it should be illegal. Flanderization is creeping in, though: why should Ron have anything against composting, of all things? It would be nice if more episodes delved more closely into the complexities and contradictions of Ron's belief system, though I'm given to suspect that the writers aren't inclined to think it through fully.
      • Composting in particular makes no sense, because Ron is also a survivalist (lives in a cabin in the woods with no public utilities, keeps a bug-out bag in his office, pretty much anything with the Pawnee scouts, numerous other examples). Shouldn't he be in favor of making his own soil or fertilizer, especially considering his other interests in DIY projects and self-recycling?
    • Ron has other instances of un-libertarian behavior. His "government is a thankless job" speech in season six is extremely out-of-character from his earlier characterization, pulling an almost one-eighty from his earlier views to console Leslie that government employees should do what they know to be right even if people don't thank them for it.
  • How could Donna afford a Mercedes-Benz on a low-level municipal employee's pay?
    • A couple of deleted scenes have her addressing this in talking heads. Both times, she answers "I'm in over my head". Not especially funny (hence deleted scenes), but there's your explanation.
      • Finally explained. Her family is fabulously wealthy, and Ginuwine is her cousin.
  • What the hell is with Ron's decision to have April take over some of Leslie's responsibilities? She treats everyone around her like trash, especially poor Ann. Her character has always seriously bothered me from day one, but since she never did anything of consequence before I could just ignore her. If she's going to get a bigger role, though, I might actually stop watching the show. Andy managed to grow the hell up and stop being a Jerkass, why can't she?
    • She is growing up. She comforted Chris over Millicent, she smoothed things over between Tom and Ann, and then there's "Campaign Shake-Up", the episode you're basing this complaint on. She's maturing and beginning to care about her co-workers...she's just fighting it every step of the way because she's afraid of growing up and being an asshole is a cornerstone of the image she's cultivated.
      • She was extremely insufferable before she did all of those things, though. She wished that Chris's happiness would go away and she had to get drunk to be around Tom and Ann. We never actually see her solve the water fountain thing, which I think probably would have helped. If she was shown in a position where she fixed a problem without treating everyone around her terribly, the newfound duties she'll be getting would probably be easier to swallow. I just don't want to see her use her new position to continue disrespecting people.
    • I don't think you're looking at Ron's decision from Ron's point of view. Ron likes April, and likes the idea of nothing getting done... how she's treated coworkers in the past has never really been an issue to Ron. And being a Jerkass is her character. If she stops being a Jerkass, she stops being April.
  • Chris doesn't allow employees to date but is perfectly fine with Andy and April getting married.
    • Chris only has a problem with an employee dating a subordinate.
      • Plus, Andy's not really sure who his boss is—if he even has a boss.
      • Weren't they in a relationship anyway before Chris ever showed up? They could have been grandfathered in that way. He can oppose new relationships starting but he can't reasonably force couples to break up if his rule wasn't being enforced when they got together. Of course it's been a while since season 3, so I can't really remember if they got together before he showed up or not.
    • This is actually Truth in Television - lots of government and military settings explicitly prohibit inter-office relationships only when they would present a professional conflict of interest. Andy and April are too low-level and neither one is subordinate to the other; whereas a deputy director of a department dating the city manager demonstrates a clear professional conflict of interest - this is addressed in the show several times with Leslie and Ben awkwardly trying to balance their personal feelings from their professional judgment and Ben finding it hard to disagree with Leslie professionally.
  • How can Chris condone Ann interviewing for the position of new Health person when he's so strict on rules? First she is interviewed by Leslie, who's her best friend. Then her second interview is with Chris, who she dated for quite a while. Those are –literally– the two least-objective people when it comes judging her skills for the job. Why didn't Chris mandate for other people to take the interviews?
    • YMMV, but I think it's part of the joke of the Chris character that he is so wound up about the Leslie/Ben thing, yet lets just about everything else go. Even when he's part of the budget cutting crew, he wants everything to happen and doesn't have the heart to cut anything.
  • Tom Haverford invented his name, having changed it when he decided to go into politics to avoid the stigma against Muslim-sounding names. It seems odd, given his later characterization for vanity and style, for him to have chosen such a bland name. Even if he wanted to fit into white middle-America, he could have chosen something much more snappy and memorable.
    • Despite Tom's vanity and swag, he's often been shown to be seriously out of touch with what is actually considered "stylish." Maybe he genuinely thought Haverford sounded like a cool name.
    • Thomas Montgomery Haverford is like, the wasp-iest name in the history of ever. Given he was trying to distance himself from the perception that he was a foreigner, I'd say he chose well.
  • Why would they have "Welcome Taliban Soliders" and "Welcome Viet Cong Soliders" in a red state?
    • Presumably they were expecting spectacular losses in those wars and subsequently invasion. They'd want to please them, right?
    • That was the joke - it started with "Welcome German Soldiers" during WWII, and kept changing for each new opponent even though the Viet Cong and the Taliban had absolutely no chance of conquering America.
    • Wait, do you think a city in a Blue State would be pro-Taliban?
    • Just because Pawnee is in a red state doesn't mean that the city itself is politically conservative. Considering that the Sweetums factory is the largest employer in the town and that it has a huge city government for a town of 50,000-80,000 people, it probably leans Democratic.
      • What does Sweetums employing most of the town have to do with a Democratic leaning?
      • Industrial places tend to vote left-ish (i.e., workers traditionally vote left).
      • True, but Pawnee seems pretty right-wing in general. Admittedly, this may be The Law of Conservation of Detail since Leslie seems pretty leftish and showing the citizens who agree with her wouldn't advance the plot.
  • April has taken a job as Ben's assistant in Washington. Seriously, this is April we're talking about. Do I even need to say anything else?
    • yes
      • All right, if you insist: It seems Out of Character (she's not usually ambitious, she thinks Ben is a dork, she misses Andy, etc.) and the show provided no explanation for why she accepted the job.
      • She's been living with Ben for a while, though (months?). She can think he's a dork and still like him. Also, she's enjoyed some travel in the past and Washington is a pretty cool place. And she clearly has little interest in the job itself or using it for further advancement. Seems more like sympathy for Ben combined with a desire to get to visit D.C. without needing a real job.
    • Much of the point of the character is that she isn't a tenth as mean and apathetic as she likes to project and everyone knows it, which she hates. I think the moral in most of the episodes where she has a subplot is that she is, in spite of what she claims herself, very smart and engaged and everyone trusts her to do her job and do it well. She would go to hell and back for you, once you are in good standing, even if she complains the entire way.
  • In the episode "Women in Garbage", Ron and Ann (though a series of unfortunate events) accidentally leave Diane's children in a locked room with Ann's nurse kit. They both cut each other's hair and are very close to doing worse (keep in mind that these children are both around five years old). When Diane stops by near the end of the episode and sees, she doesn't care. Um, her children almost mutilated each other thanks to Ann's (mainly Ann's, but also Ron's, due to leaving the children to her, even despite her mentioning that she is terrible with children) carelessness. And DIANE DOES NOT CARE. Um, Out of Character, much?
    • Being a single parent of multiple youngsters means you have to go with the flow a lot. When she got there and saw Ron and Ann panicked, but the only damage was a pair of bad haircuts then she was probably so relieved that it passed.
      • I understand that, but you'd think that she would be a little mad at Ron and Ann for not being more careful. The potential for the children to cut themselves was astronomical.
      • This is an "all's well that ends well" kind of scenario.
    • Are you kidding me? She's a single mother of two kids who are what, 6 and 8 or so? Do you really think she'd freak out that much at them being alone in the same room as a pair of scissors? I know that there's an epidemic of overparenting, but thinking that would genuinely be an issue is comical.
    • Rule of Funny probably applies - Diane having a realistic argument or fight with Ron about it wouldn't be very entertaining to watch.
  • Why on earth is Marshall Langman on the "Leslie Knope Says: No Fun For You" float in the Season 5 finale? His entire ethos is that same kind of finger-wagging, and he nods when the woman from the Small Business Association says Leslie is "against personal liberty". Well, so is he. I know he's against Knope, but he and his wife have spent the entire series attacking Leslie for completely opposite reasons.
    • It's actually fairly common for people to support restrictive policies while accusing the other side of being anti-freedom because they're only thinking of the liberties their side supports when they say that. Saying that someone is anti-freedom has just become a way of saying you don't like them or support their policies.
    • A rallying cry among lot of moral police types is freedom from government interference, which is used as argument against mandatory sex education and public school in general.
    • Also, the running joke with Marshall Langman is that he's both a moral watchdog and REALLY flamboyant, so a big honkin' negative campaign ad parade float is ludicrous but fits that character pretty well.
  • Why is Ann wearing that eggplant costume in Meet 'n' Greet? As an Italian-American, it has some very bad and hopefully unfortunate implications, as the Italian word for eggplant is often used as a derogatory term for Black people.
    • Um, okay. You do realize that eggplants are also an actual fruit, right?
    • It probably just didn't cross the writers' minds or nobody on the writing staff knew that.
    • That would be a possible concern if Ann were in any way Italian-American, perhaps. Sometimes an eggplant is just an eggplant. It was likely just what the props department had, for whatever reason.
    • It's probably part of the joke that instead of a stereotypical Halloween costume like a sexy nurse, an actual nurse has to dress as the most bland and unsexy thing possible. Also, it was established in a previous Halloween episode that Ann's usual social circle of doctors and nurses is awful with costumes. They may make her feel her costume ideas are better than they are, the way that Ben's accountant colleagues make him feel like the king of comedy.
  • Ben tells Ron that if he dies, his estate will go to the government. But that's not true, because at this point Ron is married, and his wife will automatically get everything in the event of his death, will or no will.
    • Maybe he's lying to Ron because it's still a really good idea to have a will.
  • Why is Leslie still considered the Parks and Recreation department even after she's elected to city council. Jamm says she can't keep control of her own department or something? She has an awful lot of interaction with her own department for someone who's supposed to be overseeing the whole city.
    • City councilmen usually are affiliated with a particular part of government. Plus, "councilman" often isn't a full-time job (This seems to be the case in Pawnee, as evidenced by the fact that Jamm has enough time to run a dental practice) so Leslie is still the Deputy Director of Parks and Rec, who also happens to be a Councilwoman.
    • It's possible for the city council in small towns to have other jobs. It's explained in one episode during the campaign - when Ron tells her that councilwoman is a part-time job, but campaigning is a full-time job, and she can come back when she wins the campaign.
  • Is there a good in-universe explanation for why Leslie has suddenly started becoming successful and respected among her colleagues since Season 1? In the first season (and even some of the second season) we were shown a character who had for a long time was an unpopular member of her office who no one took seriously. How do they explain the fact that she went for several years as someone with few friends, a very limited sex life (she was hung up on a guy who slept with her years ago), and a very tenuous grasp on the temperments of her coworkers, to suddenly being someone who became a great and positive social presence in the lives of her coworkers. Was there supposed to be some sort of catalyst that caused her to become successful (out-of-universe, we know the show was taking a while to find its groove chemistry-wise and for the writers to get a handle on the character) so suddenly? It's hard to buy it was some natural progression, that all of a sudden she figured out how to become a people person overnight.
    • Early Installment Weirdness. The show was still finding its voice and hammering out characters. They kept major plot threads, but characters got tweaked to make them funnier/more interesting/more likable.
  • Ron is a libertarian. He believes that government is inherently wasteful and inefficient. His solution to this is... to take a public sector job in which he cashes a paycheck drawn on taxpayer money and not do the job he's being paid to do. How is this supposed to improve anything? Isn't that a bit like protesting BP by buying a barrel of their oil and dumping it in your back yard?
    • I think the justification the show attempts is that Ron feels that it's better occupying his position as an obstructionist, lest somebody efficient (like Leslie) have it instead. Of course, this raises a few questions like how he got it to begin with. This is a general impression, but my feeling is that in early seasons the audience was given more space to denounce Ron as a hypocrite, but that's been buried over time in a lot of "Ron is badass" indulgences on the part of the writers.
      • Except that Leslie, by Ron's own admission, is efficient. In Ron's perfect world there would be no such thing as taxation, but given that taxpayer money is taken away from them and given to the government, why is it better to take that money and throw it in a bin than give it to somebody who will actually work on the public's behalf? It's cutting off your nose to spite your face.
      • Ron no doubt feels that he can temper Leslie's excesses, either directly or indirectly. Again, it's how Ron justifies this to himself that's at issue. We the audience are free to denounce him as a hypocrite, in theory.
  • Andy becomes Leslie's assistant through the rigorous process of... Ron saying, "Andy, you are now Leslie's assistant." This in a city government that not long ago underwent a total shutdown for budget reasons, but now Ron can apparently create a new position out of thin air without clearing it with HR or consulting the budget to figure out where the money to pay him is coming from, and staff it by fiat without posting a job opening or holding job interviews. What? Seriously, what?
    • The show has a lot of strange things like this, none more so than the fact that Leslie can broker the Eagleton amalgamation with Pawnee while seemingly neither consulting the electorate nor even the (completely obstructive) city council.
      • It has a lot of strange things like that lately. It didn't used to: for the first few seasons it was a relatively realistic depiction of the challenges of getting anything done in local government (take it from someone who knows from experience). The "Andy is now Leslie's assistant" bit is particularly jarring for coming so soon on the heels of the massive Reality Ensues that was the government shutdown arc, and the Harvest Festival that was specifically and repeatedly stated to be a last-ditch and relatively risky money-making venture for the city.
  • A running joke in the show is that Pawnee is one of the fattest cities in America, so... where are all the fat people at? In the main cast Jerry's on the heavy side and shown to have health issues and I'd say Donna is a BBW. We see a lot of Pawneeites (Pawneens?) through the public forums and Leslie's campaigning and while they span many body types none spring to mind as morbidly obese, which is generally how the characters talk about them. Why make a point of the town being fat and not bother to have fat actors play the townspeople?
    • I think it is intentional, and like you said, a running joke that so far has little on-screen evidence, yet is constantly remarked on as being a known fact. And that makes it funny (to me).
  • The city of Pawnee has a population of approx 70,000 people, yet meetings in City Hall, etc., only have very low attendance, sometimes there is less than 15 townies showing up.
    • That's on purpose. It's to hammer in the fact that Pawnee is incredibly apathetic towards their government and don't give a rat's ass about anything they're doing (unless there's something to protest about).
    • It's also Truth in Television.
  • If Leslie won the city council election by twenty-one votes, shouldn't there have been another recount since that was the same amount she lost by that resulted in the first recount?
    • There's no reason to think the mandatory-recount limit is the same on a recount's results as in the primary count.
  • What happened to Paul, the original city manager? Chris was brought in as a temporary replacement while he was recovering from surgery, but as of the end of Season 6, over three years later, he hasn't even been mentioned again.
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