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Let's Talk About the 'Parks and Recreation' Special

Last week, NBC premiered a special episode of Parks and Recreation; the episode itself came as a nice surprise, as the show itself ended back in 2015.

The one-time reunion provided a well-needed moment of comic relief, while also focusing on two non-profit organizations: Feeding America and The National Institute of Mental Health.

I finally got around to watching the episode, so let’s recap what went on.

What Has Everyone Been Up To?

The episode surrounds itself around our lovely Leslie Knope wanting to rally everyone together for a phone-tree—oh how I missed her determination.

Starting off with Leslie and her husband, Ben Wyatt, the tree showcased the former Pawnee Parks and Recreation department catching up with one another.

Ben decided to take his love for Cones of Dunshire and transform it into a claymation film, mentioning how he is prepping a script for it.

Ron secluded himself away from civilization with his wife Diane; we also caught a glimpse of his ex-wife, Tammy 2, who tried to sneak her way back to Ron once again.

Ann and Chris are together in Michigan, but with Ann working as an outpatient nurse during the pandemic, she quarantined herself from her family in a different part of their home.

April began playing a sort-of grab bag game to determine what clothes she will wear each day and Andy locked himself in their shed, so he has been trying to “Burt Macklin” his way out.

Tom revealed all of his failed, quarantine business ideas to Donna while the two of them drank in front of a beachy, video chat background; Donna also bought her husband, Joe, a Mercedes Benz like hers. I love her.

And, of course, we caught up with Jerry/Garry Gergich even though nobody wanted to.

In addition to the former Parks department, we saw a few more familiar faces throughout the episode (Jean-Ralphio, Perd Hapley, Dennis Feinstein, Jeremy Jamm, Joan Calamezzo and Bobby Newport to name a few).

But what about Leslie? How was she doing through all of this. Well, she revealed to Ron that with trying to get everyone together to try and talk at the same time, she’s been stressing out. So after they ended their call, Ron took action.

A Full Reunion

Leslie receives another call while talking to Ben, but he tells her to merge it. Low and behold, Ron rallied up the entire former Parks department after they cleared their schedules, giving Leslie what she has wanted all this time: to have everyone together.

To celebrate this special moment, the whole crew sang along to “5,000 Candles in the Wind,” which definitely turned out to be the tear-jerking moment of the episode—at least it was for me.

Ron then gave Leslie—and the audience—a solid piece of advice to go by: “Don’t spend all your time looking after other people. Look after yourself once in a while.”

Why This Special Was a Good Idea

While the world may be a bit dim at the moment, I think the episode was a great way to help people disconnect from the ongoing situation while also bringing together a cast of characters who are loved by so many. Additionally, it was good about focusing on the importance of keeping up with our mental health and staying connected with one another.

Mike Schur, the show’s co-creator, stated he and and the whole crew felt like they made their point with the show after it ended five years ago, seeing no point in rebooting the series. But with a pandemic such as this one, he said this was “kind of a different story.”

“…You’re thinking to yourself, ‘Well, there are a tremendous number of people who need help, and there’s a tremendous amount of potential energy in the idea of this group of people getting back together. And if you could combine those two things and use the ‘one-time reunion’ as a way to be noisy and to try to get people happy for half an hour and maybe to throw 25 bucks at a website — that’s something worth doing. If we could pull it off, it would be worth it.'”

The special was definitely worth it and helped me reaffirm my love for the series. Parks and Recreation was—and still is—a show that brought tons of humor to the small screen, while also focusing on themes of true friendship and fighting for what you love.

Seeing the cast reunite to do something they also loved, while providing some emotional support in a time like this was the best medicine, and I thank them all for putting this together.

If you missed the special, catch it over on the NBC app, Peacock, Hulu or YouTube. To donate to Feeding America, click here.