Parks and Recreation Season 5 Review “Ron & Diane”

Parks and Recreation’s spiritual cousin, 30 Rock, is coming to an end after this season. As a result, 30 Rock has devoted a few episodes to some fan service. While the announcement has not been made that this will be Parks and Recreation’s final season, you can tell that Mike Schur and company are treating this season as such. Plots are advancing rapidly as the show searches for happy endings for all of their characters. Leslie and Ben are getting married. Tom and Andy are starting to grow up. April cares about things (some things). Everyone in Pawnee seems to be getting their happy endings. Given the relentlessly positive nature of the show, it’s no surprise that the writers, and fans, want to see these characters go out happy. As a result, the show has traded in warm and funny episodes that are going heavy on the sweetness. The show remains wonderful, but this dedication to the characters’ happiness eliminates the opportunity to take episodes and do something new and interesting. Parks has never been the most inventive show (it’s truly remarkable in its steadiness), but they’ve shown the ability to craft excellent episodes outside of the box. With so many loose ends to tie together (thanks to a bloated cast), the show has to maintain a laser-like focus on these characters and their development.

It may have sounded like it, but I surely didn’t mean it as a complaint. On the contrary, watching Ron exercise his Tammy demons made for typically special television. His reaction to Tammy told us everything we needed to know about the strength of Ron’s relationship with Diane. Much like Leslie, I have to give Diane an enthusiastic two thumbs up as Ron’s partner. She’s accepting of his passions and understanding of his hatred of all things European (though he would go to Europe for her). Our faith and belief in their relationship is rewarded at the end of the episode when we get to witness the return of the great Duke Silver. It’s a beautiful gesture from an intensely private man. Even if Diane may be in real danger if she spends too much time around the Duke Silver fans (who clearly want to get up in his jazz).

Ron seems to have found someone he can spend his days with, but Chris Traeger seems to have found a way to finally live with himself. His blubbering mess act was growing slightly tiresome, so it was great to see Chris’s 15 therapy sessions a week really start to pay off. Knowing the arc of sitcoms as I do, I fully expected him to revert back to the blubbering mess once his ex-girlfriend Milicent Gergich. Fortunately, he kept it together throughout the party. Hell, Ben had a more difficult time dealing with meeting Christie Brinkley. Also, it was nice to be reminded that Jerry has himself a great life outside of the Parks office. It’s pretty easy to be the staff whipping boy if you know that your life trumps everything you take from the clowns at work. Nothing makes a man feel more secure.

We’re nearing a possible end to one of the best shows on television. If these characters are leaving us after this season, it’s tough to imagine a better way to go out.