Parks and Recreation Season 5 Finale “Are You Better Off?”

3 May

The Parks and Recreation season 5 finale asks the town of Pawnee “Are You Better Off Than a Year Ago?” This time last year I hadn’t watched any of Parks and Recreation and now it features in my top five shows, so my answer to this question is an emphatic “Yes.” Summer is the time for enjoying warmer weather, but it’s the perfect opportunity to catch up on those shows that everyone is talking about that you somehow missed (there is a project for this year that I will announce soon). Parks and Rec was the 2012 choice (along with copious amounts of the Olympics) and after a bumpy start, I quickly fell in love with these characters and Pawnee.

There are two different types of marathon watches; the show that has finished (I just watched all of The West Wing for the first time recently) and the show that is still on air. Parks and Rec obviously falls into the latter category and that means going from a season in a week to an episode a week. I now also have to suffer through the “will it get renewed?” nerves. Thankfully this Vulture article has soothed any worries I had (and really at this point it’s still a good show for NBC to have despite the low ratings).

Parks and Rec finaleBack to the finale now that you’ve had my history of how I started watching this show and while the end of season 5 was perhaps more muted than Leslie’s triumphant victory last year or Li’l Sebastian’s memorial that closed out season 3, it showcased everything that makes Parks and Rec one of the funniest and smartest sitcoms. There’s no other comedy that makes me laugh or get teary as much as this one and that’s because they have created a well rounded group of characters for us to laugh with and cheer on with their endeavors. Each of these characters has progressed from where we left them at the end of season 4, so when Leslie asks this question to the town they can all answer yes even if over 300 people are mad at the changers that Leslie has made and now want to recall her.

April’s story has been the stand out for me as she started the year in Washington D.C. as Ben’s assistant while he worked on a campaign and she’s now been accepted into veterinary school. Animals have always been preferable to April (“I hate people”) and the gradual move towards this career hasn’t felt forced. She still gets to be the same April who suggests burning Rent-a-Swag to the ground for the insurance money, but she also has a career goal to go with the eye rolls and the acerbic wit. April is in a similar position to where Andy was at the end of last season as she strives towards her dream job.

Not everything in Pawnee goes the right way for these characters as Andy remains the optimist with his Bert Macklin persona, but without the police officer role that he wanted so much this year. Is Andy the only one who isn’t better off when it comes to career? Even if he didn’t get his dream job Andy does still have April and he’s more intuitive than his goofy disposition suggests. On a completely different note and it won’t be a huge surprise for anyone who reads this blog, but I also really want April’s shirt in the photo below.

April finale

Like April, Tom has improved who he is this year as he opened his own business that has been a roaring success. So much so that there is a mystery person wanting to buy Rent-a-Swag and when Tom turns this person down, they’re now going to set up a rival business across the street. Who is this mystery buyer? Sadly for Tom it’s unlikely to be either Diddy or Jay Z.

Donna is still fantastic and my only gripe is that we don’t get enough of her. Donna is one of the best advice givers on this show, whether it is business related for Tom or which Game of Thrones characters can “get it” (the answer is all of them).

Over this season we have seen Leslie navigate through the many obstacles that a role in politics brings and this was neatly demonstrated at the town hall meeting as we saw a list of gripes against the changes she has implemented in Pawnee. The obesity issue that has been a long running joke (they’ve gone from 4th to 9th most obese town in America) featured heavily and it’s so very wrong that I’m intrigued by the triple decker pancake breakfast pizza that gets mentioned (see also macaroni and cheese pizza). They’re not all bad testimonials and it was good to see Jason Schwartzman and Brandi Maxxx pop up in support of Leslie (Brandi Maxxx was in both Argo and “Our Goo”).

Work is where the struggle is for Leslie as she is in a happy relationship (and the wedding episode/proposal are highlights of season 5) with Ben. Ben reminds Leslie of how much this job means to her and the more she achieves, the more she will anger some people. Leslie’s press conference manages to be both heartfelt and name at least five dance movies I haven’t seen and it is moments like this that show the true genius of Parks and Recreation and Amy Poehler.


The big mystery of the finale is who is pregnant and this is a job for Bert Macklin! Anne teams up with Andy when it soon becomes clear that it’s not her (but she is having lots of ridiculous sex with Chris – who is also the nipple king). I bought the April fake out but the real answer is far juicier. In “Win, Lose, or Draw” Ron told Ben that things worked for Ben and Leslie because they’re the type of people who “like to hold hands and jump off cliffs together.” Ron likes things to stay the same (he owns one bowl and has had the same haircut since 1978) and he emphasizes this point while he’s talking to Andy, right before Diane walks in and changes his life forever. Thanks to the magic of Tumblr you can relive this moment in gif form.

I’m hoping that whatever show I choose as my summer catch-up project brings me as much joy as Parks and Recreation and I will once again reply “Yes” to the question “Are You Better Off Than a Year Ago?”

2 Responses to “Parks and Recreation Season 5 Finale “Are You Better Off?””


  1. Out of the Box: Look of the Week | TV Ate My Wardrobe - May 10, 2013

    […] missing the wigs and 80s styling on The Americans and the April Ludgate clothes I covert on Parks and Recreation (but so happy that Parks got picked up for season 6 yesterday). This week’s winner is […]

  2. Maison Kitsuné F/W ’13 Collection: Dressing April Ludgate | TV Ate My Wardrobe - June 27, 2013

    […] April’s new job I wanted to find a brand that would allow April to dress as casually as she has in past seasons […]

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