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'Parks and Recreation' recap: The Parks Department goes to prom

Season 6 | Ep. 18 | “Prom” | Aired Apr 3, 2014

Sending a grown cast of characters to prom might sound like a stunt or write-off episode, but with NBC’s Parks and Recreation … well, yeah, that’s not totally inaccurate. To paraphrase Ben’s response to Leslie inviting him to the prom: “I thought you’d never ask … mostly because we’re nearing 40.”

This week, the Parks Department steps in to host the senior prom for the surprisingly uh-horny teens of Pawnee after budget cuts from the merger threaten to rob them of their rite of passage. While most shows would use this as a chance to regress its characters to high school for a night, or relive the horrors of their youth, Parks and Rec manages to keep its characters not just in the present, but looking to the future during their would-be trip back in time.

Ben
Ben’s move forward is the kind of glory high school nerds usually only get at a 10-year reunion: He wasn’t the lamest person there. Teamed up with Tom as co-DJ (an act of nepotism from his lady love, Leslie), Ben proves that old school can be cool with his music selections. Considering Ben has been cozying up to Larry/Jerry/Gary a lot lately, this was just the cool-factor boost he needed to stay off the bottom of the social food chain at City Hall. W0w — when I put it that way, it feels like real life is still a lot like high school.

Tom 
Tom learns to accept (or start the long process of accepting) that he can’t stay young and hip forever. Nearing 30, Tom no longer knows exactly what’s cool with teenagers. To most adults, this isn’t the end of the world. For some (of the Ron Swanson variety, for example), it’s even a badge of honor. For Tom, it’s a little devastating. R.I.P., perpetual-swagmaster Tom Haverford. Hello, burgeoning adult Tom Haverford.

April
As weird and random as the April and Andy pairing has always been, they’ve always worked. The show has never, even once, questioned the fact that they worked and would continue to work. Even as April considered leaving Pawnee for veterinary school and when Andy spent months in England filming Guardians of the Galaxy  working on that charity project, it was always assumed that April and Andy were a working unit. Tonight, seeing Andy have fun at a function dedicated to happiness and dancing, April starts to question their union for the first time. A little Donna Real Talk reminds her that she and Andy both love some weird things, but that he loves her more than anything else. Be honest, communicate and work it out. It’s the kind of advice that actually makes for a healthy marriage, even amongst first-class weirdos like April and Andy.

Andy
Aww, you thought Andy grew up some this week? That’s cute that you thought that. He’s just lovable idiot Andy, as always. He’s also crowned prom king. Then he and April get chased out of the dance, which had to make her so, so happy.

Leslie and Ron
Leslie and Ron get to share their moment of growth since, on top of being a chance for everyone to grow and move forward and pretend to be in high school again (or dread the idea of high school all over again), “Prom” also features a fabulous little game of Spy vs. Spy, with Ron and Leslie fighting over a bright mini-Leslie’s summer plans. Leslie wants the girl, Allison, to intern in the Parks Department over the summer, then rise through the ranks of local government and follow in her footsteps. Imagining filling her hole in the Pawnee government no doubt eases her guilt over the idea of taking the job in Chicago. Ron, opposed to government work and unpaid internships, tries to court Allison away from Leslie’s offer by securing her a paid summer job at his friend’s sawmill (he’s owed a favor because, as explained in stoic Swanson glory, he built the sawmill).

Their obvious and uncomfortable fighting over Allison’s future prompts her to turn them in to the principal for harassment. Both eventually have to accept that they can’t force their own views on other people. It’s a big step for both the Pawnee extremists. Also, Ron catalogs Leslie’s craziness in a way that’s almost as sweet as this kitten gif:

Yes, everyone did a little bit of growing up at prom — but then, I guess maybe that’s part of what prom is all about.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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