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PARKS AND RECREATION “Ben’s Parents” Recap/Review

Meet Ben Wyatt’s dad: “he’s terrifying,” and he will NOT entertain the possibility of having red vines instead of Twizzlers. Ben’s hysterical and incessant insistence that his parents despise each other seems like exagerration for comedic effect. It can’t be thaaaaat bad, right? Jonathan Banks guest stars as Ben’s dad in this week’s episode of Parks and Recreation, and he essentially and expectedly reprises his role as Mike Ehrmantraut, proving it can be that bad. “We’re a Twizzlers family” is as menacing as “No more half measures, Walt.”

The introduction of Ben’s parents is a wonderful departure from the routine Parks has been falling into lately (not at all an unfunny or unentertaining routine, but a routine nonetheless), and I’d be left begging for more if I didn’t know Jonathan Banks as a recurring player is quite unlikely. But maybe one more time at the wedding? For me, Ben’s fears were astutely displayed when Leslie unveils her quilt. Notice Ben’s mother complaining she doesn’t want Mike’s (that’s his name on this show too right?) girlfriend’s name on her quilt only after Leslie wrote it on there with a marker. And seriously, why on earth would Ben’s father or his “play-thing” be insulted if it wasn’t? Insisting Ben’s unborn half-sister be included would be equally unusual. But I suppose that’s precisely why Ben’s parents are so insufferable. Well played.

After the greatness of the last episode of Parks and Rec, the show is bound to fall back to its norm. But the appearances of Mike The Cleaner and Jean-Ralphio prevent that from happening. By the way, what happened in Thursday’s episode is a strong indication that we are seeing the last of Jean-Ralphio. Tom is finally feeling the frustration that literally everyone else has been this entire time. And a quick shot of Ron after his last encounter with Jean-Ralphio may as well be a pin in this character’s coffin, and a positive outlook toward Tom’s individual endeavors. Even though Jean-Ralphio’s nonsense in the last minute of the episode is just fantastic, it also came across as one more out-with-a-bang moment for the guy we all love to hate.

Much of what has made Season 5 successful so far is its break from the office and the workplace limitations. The cast is finally beginning to feel like a family, rather than just friends and especially just colleagues. Ben and Leslie’s marriage creates a literal family within the show to amplify and even symbolize the metaphorical one. Chris has a moment of clarity late in the episode when he realizes that his “perfect storm of emotions” isn’t fair to his two “best friends”. Perfectly acceptable on a sitcom, a boss’ claim that two of his employees are also his best friends would really be kind of weird otherwise. Each character’s relationship with another is kept very fresh, with credit going to the writers as well as the actors. The writers seem to have found a sort of rhythm of cycling in different interactions between the supporting characters (i.e. April hating Ann is still a thing), all the while illuminating the polarization between people who like Dave Matthew’s Band and people who don’t.

Extras:

-Andy’s tie is way too short.

-Jean-Ralphio is “technically homeless.”

-Chris crying on Donna’s shoulder may just be the best thing to ever happen to her.

-Joe Biden foreshadowing.

-Do people from Minnesota really hate Iowans?

-Ron with the Wind’s enormous plate of shrimp, and his stare down with Mike The Cleaner over the last one. Remember, bacon-wrapped shrimp is Ron’s number one favorite food wrapped in his number 3 favorite food.

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The Author

Matt Benincasa

Matt Benincasa

Matt is an actor and writer from NYC, attending Fordham University with a Major in Communications and Minor in Theatre.