Review: Parks and Recreation: "Sex Education"
“Sex Education” opens with the Parks and Rec crew getting themselves all grossed out over the logistics of how old people get it on…”
The inherent, disturbing hilarity of an elderly couple having sex is not new ground for television comedy. Old people having intercourse has been at the center of many a sitcom episode, from Scrubs to The Simpsons. And so it’s probably for the best that though this week’s episode, “Sex Education” opens with the Parks and Rec crew getting themselves all grossed out over the logistics of how old people get it on, it quickly switches gears and becomes a much sharper parody of sex education in general.
The often stated idea that the best sexual education is abstinence education is a comical one in and of itself, and it fits right at home within the confines of Pawnee. What begins as a humble attempt by Leslie to help old people stave off sexually transmitted diseases, (“Great news- lots of old people have chlamydia.” she says ecstatically) quickly becomes a much greater issue when local morality watchdog Marsha Langman arrives on the scene. Marsha, along with her effete, obviously closeted husband Marshall, invoke a Pawnee bill that forbids city employees from teaching non-abstinence sexual education. What ensues is fairly typical Parks and Recreation fare: The system threatens to trample Leslie’s spirit and beliefs until, at the prodding of Ann, she decides ultimately that doing what’s right is more important than a silly bill. “You were elected to lead, not to follow,” Ann tells her towards the end of the episode. This is all ground Parks and Recreation has covered before, but I particularly liked the way it wrapped up, with Leslie’s willingness to change herself for politics being contrasted with Ann’s willingness to change herself depending on whoever she’s dating at the time. It’s nice to see that addressed, as for the last four seasons, Ann’s only storylines have basically been about which of the male leads she’s currently seeing, be it Andy, Mark, Chris or Tom. Hopefully, Ann will have more storylines of her own this season.
“Tom is best used when his go-getter attitude is revealed to be a mask for genuine pain, but Tom telling Ron that he buries himself in the internet to forget his problems just felt tacked on and cheap.”
Less successful in this episode was Tom’s subplot, which found a judge sentencing him to spend a full 24 hours without any of his social media devices. He then spends the remainder of the episode with Ron, who tries doggedly to get Tom to kick his social media addiction. It’s a hacky storyline, that felt thrown in out of nowhere and was at a certain point just Tom listing off websites. There wasn’t much too this storyline, and the amount of time spent on it was somewhat disheartening. Tom is best used when his go-getter attitude is revealed to be a mask for genuine pain, but Tom telling Ron that he buries himself in the internet to forget his problems just felt tacked on and cheap. The joke that he was addicted to technology wasn’t nearly funny enough to justify how unlikeable it made Tom for 22 minutes and it really brought down “Sex Education” overall.
Meanwhile, in a slight but enjoyable C-story, Ben and April finally meet Congressman Murray, the politician whose campaign they’ve been off in D.C. running all season. Though Murray is capable of being charismatic in front of the camera, he turns out to be a complete blank slate when no one is watching him, literally staring off at the wall in silence for hours on end. Confused by this development, Ben and April decide to investigate, landing appropriately on the theory that he is essentially a robot. It’s been great tracking Ben and April’s budding friendship over the course of this season, and seeing it play out in a side story with no conflict between them is a delight. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the D.C. excursion in general this season, as what could have just been an angst fest over the trials of long distance relationships has instead been a largely sweet, charming exploration of the friendship that can grow between two opposites.
Tom, tweeting as he drives: “Four green lights in a row. #blessed”
April messing with Congressman Murray was great. “I am April Blart, Mall Cop.” She says upon meeting him, and then adds to Ben as he’s walking away: “Hey, we’re still gonna assassinate him, right?”
Tom “four green lights in a row #blessed” in court for hitting a fire hydrant while twittering.One week without screens.
“Great news- lots of old people have chlamydia.”
“God Jerry, you don’t deserve the internet.”
Things the elderly risk by having sex with each other: STDS, Heart Attacks, Falling in Love.
Perd Hapley continues to be wonderful: “There are some statistics I’d like to share with you, and they are numbers.”
Tom and Jean Ralphio have a podcast called “Nacho Average Podcast” that, predictably, rates nachos.
What did you all think of “Sex Education”?
By Chris Vanjonack