Parks and Recreation, “Prom,” (6.18)— TV Recap

By Lisa Fernandes


Parks and Recreation, Season 6, Episode 18, “Prom”
April 3rd, 2014, 8:30 PM, NBC

Leslie agrees to organize Pawnee High’s prom to distract her from the Ohio offer and puts the team to work ; Leslie also tries to convince her prom helpmeet Alison Glyphord to take a summer internship with the Parks department, but Ron refuses to take the girl on even though he knows her father – which leads to his anti-government point of view clashing with Leslie’s desire to add Alison to the team, putting undue pressure on Alison and nearly ruining the prom; Andy invites April as his date, even though she has no desire to go and ends up glowering while he turns into the life of the party, requiring a frank talk from Donna; and Ben tries to help Tom deejay the event and they clash over their idea of appropriate music.

Let’s face it: Parks and Rec is always cute. Sometimes it’s as fluffy as a basket of sharp-clawed kittens, with a tiny little rancorous edge and a point to make hidden deep within its soft surface. But sometimes – as with Prom –it’s an episode of non-stop feel-good adorability, as cuddly as a box of bunnies. This episode seems to set the record for fluffy Parks’-related goodness, to the point where you can almost hear a studio audience awing behind every speech.

”Prom” is not a Parks episode for those who want something a little nastier or sharper of spirit.

The Ron/Leslie storyline captures something fundamental in each of them; Leslie’s need to mentor and have a type of sisterhood bolstering her life, if not a best friend then a younger self with which to share her values; Ron’s belief that hard work, especially manual labor, will be handsomely rewarded and is a stepping stone to a solid, sober, responsible life. We so rarely see them at actual odds nowadays, so it was nice watching their natures clash, at least for a while. Naturally, it ended with Ron dishing out some wise, fatherly advice to Leslie.

Tom’s confrontation with the utter whiteness of Pawnee’s high school body – and with his own utter unawareness of his un-hipness – was handled with adorable panache. When the final joke ends up being a rib on the teen’s 90’s-related nostalgia – something anybody with a Tumblr knows about all too well, and something with which we learn Ben can relate to perfectly – the laughs cascade upon each other like a flow of freshly-popped champagne.

And the Andy/April plot continues to highlight their Mutt-and-Jeff personalities. Exuberant Andy just wants to relive his happy, carefree high school days, but April – social wallflower and snark machine – doesn’t have such happy memories. It’s enough to make her worry about their compatibility, but as Donna reminds her, “he loves a lot of dumb stuff, but he loves you the most.”

“Prom” is not a Parks episode for those who want something a little nastier or sharper of spirit. If you’re looking for that, the bracing cynicism of this week’s Community might be more your style. But if you’re looking for something marshmallow-soft, sweet natured, and anchored well within the characters of the show’s lead personalities, then this episode will be everything you’ve been looking for.

The Roundup:

  • Leslie and the Parks Department step in to run the high school’s prom when budget adjustments threaten to cut it. That also means Leslie has to teach (and learn) Latin.
  • Ben hosted a radio show in high school that featured swing music and was called “Zoot Suit Wyatt”.
  • Tom’s entire collection of music is filled with club bangers.
  • Andy “laked” April’s car trying to jump it…over a lake.
  • Ben was impeached from office during his high school presidency.
  • Pawnee High’s principal is the same one Leslie had when she was in high school, and he has fond memories of her time within its hallowed halls.
  • Donna dated an older man in high school; he’s apparently ‘coaching Duke to the final four’ nowadays.
  • Next week: The flu hits Pawnee again, just in time for Andy and Leslie to search for acts for the unity concert; Tom looks for a sommelier for his restaurant; and Ben seeks Ron’s advice in “Flu Season 2.”
GRADE: 98/100~MASTERFUL.Marshmallow, sweet, good-natured, and everything a feel-good episode of Parks should be. Watch it and smile.
Staff Television Critic: Lisa Fernandes, formerly of, has been watching television for all of her thirty-plus years, and critiquing it for the past seven. When she's not writing, she can be found in the wilds of the Northeastern United States.