When you ask someone who their heroes are, they’ll probably answer with some super inspirational people who’ve done amazing things for humankind, like Martin Luther King, Jr. or Mother Teresa. And, of course, those are awesome heroes to have and I’d jump on that train any day. But if you ask Nikki Crews who her heroes are, she answers with the two most awesome blonde women in the world: Shakira and Leslie Knope!
If you know anything about me, know that I will drop everything to sing and dance along to a Shakira song AND most of the time, I’m quoting the greatest show to have ever existed: Parks & Recreation.
I joined the Parks & Rec team a little late in the game. It was already in its 5th season by the time I started watching so I binged the first four seasons and fell in love, HARD. To be honest, the first season was kind of “meh” for me and I almost didn’t continue, but by the end of the second season I was hooked and there was no looking back. This show taught me some valuable lessons about hard work, waffles, friendships, and perseverance all while making me laugh really hard and, at times, cry my eyes out. This show is everything to me. At any given time, it’s playing on my TV at home. Once, it was playing on two TVs at the same time in my home.
And you know how pregnant women will create a playlist to pump them up for labor and delivery? My playlist was to just stream Parks & Rec on Netflix. Winning!
While I love every single episode (with the exception of maybe one – I might talk about that later) and I can (and do) watch each season over and over, these are my favorite five episodes of all time. I’m listing them in order of season and episode because I couldn’t choose a single favorite if I tried (although, it would probably be Flu Season). *Warning: Spoilers Ahead*
1. Hunting Trip
Season 2, Episode 10
In this episode, Leslie convinces Ron to let her and the other members of the Parks Department to go on an annual hunting trip with him and the guys, It’s a great episode, but mostly because of the scene where Leslie hilariously lists all of the stereotypical reasons people think women aren’t good at hunting. Or anything for that matter. “I was on my period” or “I felt something icky” are the caricature phrases that get assigned to women as reasons they can’t do something. Of course these things don’t keep badass women like Leslie from doing anything. She can and does do it all! Also, someone shoots Ron in the head in this episode *gasp*
2. Flu Season
Season 3, Episode 2
Leslie doesn’t let the flu stop her from speaking at an important press conference for the Harvest Festival that will save the town, even though her flu meds do make her a little loopy. After she flawlessly nails her speech and convinces enough local businesses to sponsor the festival, Ben realizes how awesome she is and not because she’s the female version of famous athletes who made the winning score at the last minute, but because she is a capable, hard-working woman who does what she has to do in order to succeed for herself and her town. She musters up all her strength, steps up to the plate, and knocks it out of the park. Recognizing her talent is what makes this episode so great, and starts a whirlwind romance between the two.
3. The Fight
Season 3, Episode 13
Snake Juice! In this episode, everyone goes to the Snake Hole Lounge and gets really drunk on Snake Juice, one of Tom’s newest creations & economic ventures, and Leslie and Ann have their first major fight. Each character’s drunken state is highlighted and it’s hilarious. But it’s also refreshing to see two female friendships stand strong through trials and tribulations. In the end, Leslie and Ann realize they were both being unfair to the other and they save their friendship. I make it sound more dramatic than it is, but we need all the positive representations of female friendship we can get.
4. Pawnee Rangers
Season 4, Episode 4
We are introduced to two iconic Parks & Rec things in this episode: 1) The Pawnee Goddesses and 2) Treat Yo’ Self!
When Pawnee wouldn’t let girls join the Rangers troop, Leslie started a troop just for the girls. They’re the Pawnee Goddess and they’re freakin’ awesome! It says so on their t-shirts. When the Rangers and Goddesses go camping together, the boys see how much fun it is to be in the girls’ troop and ask to join, much to Ron’s dismay. At first, Leslie refuses to let the boys join, giving them the same treatment that the girls were given five years ago but the girls in the troop ask to hold a public forum to debate the merits of whether they should let the boys join. It’s a classic case of girl power, using logic and compassion to let the boys in their troop. Equality wins!
Also, this is the episode that taught us how to TREAT YO’ SELF. By now I’m sure you’ve at least heard of “treat yo’ self” even if you didn’t know it came from Parks & Recreation. It has become so popular and ubiquitous that you’ll hear random folks shout it out. And, if you didn’t know, October 13 is THE BEST DAY OF THE YEAR! Every October 13 you have permission to TREAT YO’ SELF!
5. Sex Education
Season 5, Episode 4
I love this episode not only because I’m passionate about sexual health education, but because it makes us think about how we’ve all become addicted to technology. Leslie has organized a sex ed seminar for the local senior citizens (yes, the elderly!) because sexually transmitted infections are running rampant among them, but is shut down by Marsha and Marshall Langman of the Society for Family Stability Foundation. Will Leslie bow down to the town’s conservative forces or will she do what’s right and teach the old people how to put on a condom? OF COURSE SHE TEACHES THE OLD PEOPLE HOW TO USE A CONDOM! SHE’S LESLIE FREAKIN’ KNOPE.
Meanwhile, Tom is ordered by a judge to put down the technology for a whole week due to the accident he caused by tweeting while driving. Tom finds life without technology very difficult, so Ron takes Tom to his cabin in the woods so he can “detox” Tom from his addiction. Tom rattles off all the ways he uses social media and admits that it’s because Lucy broke up him so he’s trying to distract himself from the pain. Awww!
There they are. Five of my all-time favorite Parks & Rec episodes. Do you watch Parks & Rec? What is/are your favorite episode(s)?
And remember, as Ron Swanson would advise:
*Honorable mentions include Ben & Leslie’s Wedding, Galentines Day, The Pawnee Zoo, and Li’l Sebastian