It has been five long years since the world has seen the Parks and Recreation cast on their television screens. Last week, the original cast and crew teamed up to bring everyone back to Pawnee, Indiana, one more time.
Not only was this reunion fully scripted, it also featured the entire original cast and included some surprise guest stars that previously starred in the show. Parks and Rec is known for satirizing timely political issues, but this special took its social awareness to a whole new level as it tackled coronavirus and life in the midst of a global pandemic.
Despite the fact that it was entirely filmed in each cast member's respective homes, they managed to transport the audience into Pawnee all while practicing social distancing and respecting stay at home orders.
The special starred Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) who was introduced as deputy director of the department of the interior and her congressman husband Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott). They kicked off the episode with witty remarks about homeschooling and spending time with your spouse in the midst of a pandemic and extreme boredom while stuck at home.
Knope’s signature talent is her ability to bring all of her friends together with brunch dates, made up holidays and anything else she can elaborately plan. Though all of her friends are quarantining in different places around town and even across the country she still finds a way to maintain a connection with them all. Using the Parks version of Zoom, Gryzzl, the gang calls one another in an elaborate call chain, planned by Knope herself.
Despite it only being a 25 minute episode, the cast managed to tackle a myriad of issues that come with living in the current state of the world. They addressed mental health, social distancing, essential workers and quarantining through several comedic ways. For instance, Andy Dwyer (Chris Pratt) is mistaken for quarantining when in actuality he unintentionally locked himself in his own shed and can’t seem to find his way out.
A couple of the guests included Bobby Newport (Paul Rudd) and Jean Ralphio-Saperstein (Ben Shapiro) who slipped right into their old characters like once before. The episode even featured two famous Pawnee news outlets and characters including Perd Hapley (Jay Jackson) on Ya Heard With Perd and Pawnee Today with Joan Calamezzo (Mo Collins).
The special also includes Knope’s best friend Ann Perkins (Rashida Jones) as a volunteer hospital nurse who is forced to quarantine away from her children and husband Chris Traeger (Rob Lowe). They didn’t just tackle these issues, they made them relatable and personal.
The episode was written by the original creator, Mike Schur, and while it was overtly positive it was still painfully real. After all the series launched in 2009, right in the midst of the Great Recession, and they offered a sense of humility even in a time of pure fear and anxiety.
There are also casual references to Parks and Rec favorites such as Ben Wyatt’s homemade game The Cones of Dunshire and a surprise fake advertisement from the infamous fragrance mogul Dennis Finestein (Jason Mantzoukas).
The episode finished off with a perfectly timed rendition of the song “5,000 Candles in the Wind,” which was first introduced in season 3 of the show. Pratt even performed it using his specially made Andy Dwyer guitar.
Bringing her friends together, embracing the circumstances and finding the light at the end of the tunnel, it seems that there is nothing Leslie Knope can’t do.