Sunday, October 11, 2009

Parks and Recreation - Beauty Pageant, or Female Empowerment

Sorry I'm behind, dudes! I was going to combine the this with the latest episode, but I was too full of commentary not to let it stand alone.

Parks and Recreation
continues their string of issues episodes, this week tackling female empowerment. Usually, I'm not wild about TV that's about things, as I'm more interested in the characters and good jokes. I felt that Parks and Recreation got away with it in the last two episodes because they were subtle and funny, but this week may have been a bit heavy handed. Let me explain:

We start the episode with Policeman Dave asking Leslie out on a date. She's enthusiastic...until Dave mistakes the picture of Madeleine Albright by her desk with her grandmother. She also doesn't recognize Condoleeza Rice, Nancy Pelosi, or Michelle Obama. Needless to say, Leslie becomes more vague about their romantic prospects after this little revelation.

Then, Leslie judges a beauty pageant, that old stand by for showcasing how far women still have to come for equality. Leslie advocates for Susan, an accomplished and average looking young woman, as the next Miss Pawnee, but Tom and the other judges are strongly in favor of Trish, the Megan Fox lookalike who's talent at "batons" is a glorified strip tease. Trish wins the competition, much to Leslie's chagrin.

But then, Policeman Dave shows up to the beauty pageant, re-asking Leslie out. Again, she hedges, but gives Leslie her number. It's only after he mistakes Trish for a man that Leslie puts on a wry smile. Leslie schedules the date for next Friday, and Dave rattles off some Wikipedia knowledge on Nancy Pelosi.

The message is painfully obvious this week, and not all that funny, if you don't find hot women stripping hilarious. Leslie's consternation at everyone's insistence on Trish's supremacy is slightly funny, in that you know how futile it is, but overall, it's depressing in its truthfulness.

It was a well-crafted episode, but Parks and Recreations writers, can we please stop learning about very important issues for awhile and get back to the funny?

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