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Parks and Recreation - Donna and Joe - Review

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With “Donna and Joe,” Parks and Recreation brings us the fifth wedding in so many seasons. Well, if you count Ron & Tammy 2, Take 2, that is. We’ve had April & Andy, Ron & Tammy 2, Leslie & Ben, Ron & Diane, and Donna & Joe. The funny thing is, out of all those weddings, this is the first to play out in any sort of planned fashion. There was Andy and April’s Dinner Party wedding after about one month of dating, Ron and Tammy’s booze-fueled quickie 2nd wedding, Leslie and Ben’s spontaneously early wedding, and Ron and Diane’s pregnancy-fueled quickie wedding. (I get the feeling that they’ve got no real interest in weddings with a lot of lead up.) The thing about Parks and Rec -- everything is very tailored to characters. Just like Leslie knows how to craft a birthday party for Ann Perkins and for Ron Swanson, Parks knows how to craft a wedding story for April & Andy, Leslie & Ben, Donna & Joe. Same goes for things like career stories, family stories, drunk stories. (I just want to get another “The Fight”-esque episode before this is all over -- can we get a few bottles of leftover Snake Juice circulating around City Hall, please?) I mentioned this same thing last season when discussing the difference in handling Leslie’s pregnancy versus Ann’s, but I bring it up again because it still applies. Parks knows what works for the characters, and they’re not going to force a Leslie Knope story on an April. Sure, Leslie Knope the character might force her own agenda on April, but that’s a whole different thing.

So for Donna, and her lovely (and underused!) fiancĂ©, Joe, they’ve got a very touching wedding in a church, with a big, glitzy reception after the fact. Donna’s come a loooooong way from a one-line piece in the pilot, to a really interesting character who has really opened up and embraced her colleagues and friends. She has certainly lived a drama-filled life, and some glimpses of that soap-worthy past come through at her wedding. One of her bridesmaids had a falling out with her in the past, and apparently some sort of debilitating accident, and the Meagles are so explosive together that only a couple can fly on the same plane. But a fair bit of Donna’s mysterious, very off-screen, life is behind her. Not that she no longer lives an interesting life, but it is a little more open now. Instead of an endless string of “use, abuse, and lose” men, Donna’s settled with a really sweet middle school teacher. As Ron Swanson advised her last season/three years ago -- “Don’t confuse drama with happiness.” In addition to opening up to a drama-lite relationship, Donna’s also grown a lot closer to her officemates-turned-friends over the years, and delivers a really short and sweet, and certainly heartfelt, speech to bridesmaids April and Leslie.

But although Donna has moved beyond some of the drama, and April and Andy have seen to the rest at the wedding, she does note that she does miss it a little bit. So, as an odd sort of wedding gift, April arranges for Donna’s long-estranged brother LeVondrious (QUESTLOVE!) to show up as a surprise. One thrown microwave later and the party’s got a little bit of a drama infusion. Hooray!
Re: Keegan Michael Key -- although I would have loved to see more of him, I do understand that it’s the last season and they want to make sure to give the main characters enough focus as opposed to carving more time for newer additions. (Yeah, Parenthood, I am talking to you. Why all the focus on Hank’s family in the last season? That seemed like a bit of an unnecessary time suck. Anyway, different show, moving on.)

Some other drama pops up at the wedding in the form of Ron, as he tells Lucy that Tom said he'd marry her tomorrow.  Obviously that freaks her out a little (since they started dating like a week ago), but the crazy kids work it all out, as Tom admits that he really likes her and though he doesn't want to marry her tomorrow, he could definitely see it happening one day.  Like, perhaps before the end of the show, one day?...Maybe, in another time jump?...We'll see...

Also at the wedding festivities, Leslie and Ben get super hammered (thank you for that, oh deities of Parks) and call both 867-5309 (100 times), and Jen Barkley, because -- Ben Wyatt for Congress 2018!!! Yes, I just used three exclamation points to punctuate that sentence, because I’m feeling just about as enthused and supportive as Leslie Knope over her husband’s next career opportunity. Turns out that Jen Barkley (childless and happy, she would like you to know), is looking for a fresh new candidate with economic experience to run for a seat in the House of Representatives, and Ben fits the description. Although he’s not sure about the position at first, after drunkenly accepting it, he fully commits. While holding his triplets’ stuffed zebras and wearing a tux. It’s great to see Ben’s success after working so hard for Pawnee as City Manager, and to see Leslie’s support of that success. The couple has always been there for each other when one of them has the chance to try something bigger and better, and that’s probably the reason that Drunken Ben’s marriage speech at Donna and Joe’s rehearsal dinner is full of joy. And some killer dance moves. Man, the Knope-Wyatts probably have the best dance parties. And for all you out there, worrying that Leslie Knope has settled in her career, please don’t forget that she is the Regional Manager for the Midwest Region of the NATIONAL Parks Department. She oversees like 20% of the national parks in the country, so, it’s not like she’s doing too shabby. And I’m sure she’ll keep moving up, but she’s only had the job for three years, and, as she said, she loves what she’s doing. But seriously guys, between Leslie’s run for city council, Ben’s campaign manager job in DC, and Leslie’s National Parks gig, Ben and Leslie might be the most supportive couple on television. Even though they’ve now got three three-year-olds (yikes!), they’re still encouraging one another to shoot for the moon.

Speaking of the triple threats -- they’ve finally made an appearance! And of course, they are adorable havoc-wreakers, (somewhat) controlled by their nanny, Roz Pinwheel (according to IMdb), played by the fantastic Rachel Dratch. It’s just a few scenes, but as someone who works a very similar job, Roz’s frazzled reports were hilariously accurate. I’m sure anyone who has or who works with children can appreciate the chaos of managing three toddlers with Leslie Knope’s energy.

In other news, Jerry-turned-Larry-turned-Terry has now become Garry! Which is his actual name. And it only took 30 years for his co-workers to start calling him by it (though they don’t know it). Thanks Donna!

Overall, another really fun episode in Parks and Recreation’s farewell season. And one that sets up a whole lot of other stories for the last half of the season, as Ben runs for congress. Although it will be hard to say goodbye only 6 (!!) short episodes from now, I personally cannot wait to see what else Parks has got in store.  And man, Parks runs a tight 22 minutes -- how do they fit this all in?

What did you think of the episode? What has been your favorite Parks wedding? Will Ben get elected for Congress? Will the triplets get their zebras back before they lose it? What are your predictions for the second half of the final season? Let us know below!

*This review has been approved by Ben Wyatt for Congress 2018*

About the Author - Kimberly
Kimberly is a big TV nerd - willing to talk any show, any time. Her tastes are various and sundry, but she’s got a soft spot for comedy. She currently writes the SpoilerTV reviews for Parks and Recreation, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and About a Boy.
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