Parks and Recreation: Prom (6×18)
Summary: Due to the Pawnee-Eagleton merger, the Parks department ends up hosting the high school prom. Leslie and Ron compete for the summer employment of a high school senior. Andy tries to convince April that prom is fun. Tom and Ben co-DJ the prom to varying results.
Sometimes, I love classic steamroller Leslie and this episode had her in spades. Maybe to the detriment of her own character so far this season, but I was having too much fun to care. Especially if it opens with her and Ben being cute.
Prom is here, but due to the Pawnee-Eagleton merger, the prom budget was completely cut from the local high school. Leslie volunteers the Parks department to host since she doesn’t want to see the kids go without it. Through the planning committee, she meets Allison, a senior who is basically a mini-Leslie. Was Allison the girl from the Model UN episode? I can’t really remember right now, but basically, she’s shaping up for a career in government and Leslie wants to recruit her to take April’s old internship.
However, the minute Ron hears about this, he immediately protests. He’s known Allison’s dad since before she was born. He can get her a paying job at the local sawmill and keep her away from government.
Yep, it’s on now.
Throughout Prom Night, Leslie and Ron try their own ways to convince Allison to go their route. Leslie with the knowledge of a job well done in government, and Ron with money and a hard day’s work. Eventually, Allison gets so overwhelmed by the pressure that she runs off and tells the school principal what was going on. When the two are reprimanded, Ron agrees to back off, but Leslie doesn’t go so easily. She decides to publicly announce that Allison got the internship and then goes off on how she views Allison’s career path, which includes the two of them running against each other for president. It’s at this point that Ron drags her off stage, but not before Leslie can squeak out a plea for safe sex. Have I ever mentioned how much I love how anti-abstinence only Leslie is? We need more of that on TV.
In the hallway, Ron tells Leslie that she’s currently at an 8 on his personal scale of how completely insane she is being. That’s the level where police are on standby. That just makes me wonder what the hell happens at level 10. Horse tranquilizers?
This is where Leslie finally tells Ron that she’s considering a new job in Chicago and that she wants to make sure Pawnee is in good hands before she leaves. That she sees April being the new her and Allison potentially being the new April. I know that Leslie means this in terms of position in Pawnee-Eagleton government, but trying to imagine April as Leslie makes my brain hurt.
It probably does the same for Ron just a little bit because he tells her that trying to layout a blueprint for the future is a waste of time. It may be good to have, but any good contractor doesn’t need it. She needs to put her trust in that it will all work out. Leslie concedes that Ron is right, but wishes he would give her bad advice to ignore just for once.
Leslie and Ron apologize to Allison for everything, and while she hasn’t made up her mind yet, Allison admits that she found joy in both government and manual labor. She then introduces Leslie and Ron to her boyfriend Greg…
…Who just happens to be Greg Pikitis, the worst person to ever exist and how I referred to Steven Moffat for about two years. Which just made me wonder how old Greg Pikitis is. Last time we saw him was season 2, where he was anywhere between 14 and 18. Four years later, that puts him anywhere between 18 and 22. Which, hey, it’s not unusual for people in high school to date people older than them. I figure Southern Indiana like North Georgia has a lot of Romeo and Juliet laws broken. Still though… PIKITIS?! REALLY?!
Meanwhile, Andy and April get their first real plot since Andy’s actual return to Pawnee when Andy gets super psyched about prom. April doesn’t want to go, but Andy decides he’s going to convince her of the awesomeness of prom. He gets a limo and even takes pictures with her for her “parents” (read: Orin dressed like an old woman and Champion in a suit). Andy ends up having a great time, but April still hates it. When she laments this to Donna, Donna reminds her that she needs to be direct with Andy. He may love a lot of stupid things she may hate, but he loves her more than anything else.
(Also, hell yeah to the continuing April/Donna friendship!)
When Andy notices April looking not psyched about prom, he asks her why she isn’t enjoying it. April admits that she doesn’t hate prom out of her usual misanthropy, but rather it reminds her of how different the two of them are and how if they knew each other in high school, they probably would have never gotten together. Andy has one of his moments of brilliance right then and tells her that would have been high school, where everyone is an idiot. What matters is that they found each other and are together now. They hug it out and Andy offers to bail and use the limo to try and jump the lake. Really? No ‘Partition’ fantasy? I guess that would be Ben and Leslie since Leslie would be the one listening to Beyonce. Donna would actually live it out.
April tells him that she’ll stay and have fun. Later that evening, she reveals to Andy that she broke the voting box for prom king and put his name in there a thousand times. Instead of accepting some rando high school girl as his prom queen, Andy declares that April will be his. This causes them to be kicked out, which the two of them rejoice in as Ben plays ‘Song 2’ for their exit. Apparently, fun for April is rigging an election and getting kicked out of prom. Seems legit!
The smallest plot of the episode was also the one that kept me from grading the episode higher. Tom is assigned to be the DJ of the prom, but due to Ben’s disappointment, Leslie makes them co-DJs. This makes Tom become the biggest whiny baby because he thinks Ben is lame and that his music taste is equally so. He doesn’t test his music to see what are bangers! How does he know what will make people dance?
Yeah, more than Tom apparently because none of the kids like Tom’s “bangers,” but they love all of Ben’s selections. Hell, if I had Ben as my senior prom DJ, I would have been ecstatic. All rock and alternative! I mean, I love me some Jay and Kanye, but it gets really boring after a while. Tom feels down on himself for not knowing what high schoolers like, but Ben assures him that he’s been busy starting two new businesses. Plus, he’ll never be as old as Ben. Tom takes comfort in that and gets one success by the end of the night.
I don’t know why, but the “Tom hates Ben” trope has gotten really old to me and the fact the latest one was over music just made me roll my eyes even more. Oh my god Tom, get over the fact Ben has different taste than you. Or come to a mutual understanding that you’ll make fun of each other’s taste. Even Cecil Baldwin has a reason to hate Steve Carlsberg now. You have no reason to continue acting like Ben is an insult to your life.
I think what kept me from putting this episode at three stars was all the characters telling what they did at their prom. Or why they missed their prom. It was classic Parks, especially Donna’s story about dating the Duke basketball team coach when she was a senior in high school. Get it, girl.
With a few exceptions, this episode felt like a classic episode of Parks and Recreation. With steamroller Leslie and Andy and April being adorable, I feel like this plot could have easily been in season 3 with some minor plot configurations. It reminded me of why I fell in love with this show in the first place.