• Parks and Recreation recap: “Jerry’s Painting”

    Amy Poehler

    Resident Parks Department artiste/erstwhile buffoon Jerry has painted an, um, interesting piece for the community art show that leads directly to Tom Haverford being henceforth known around Pawnee as “Fat Baby.” Fasten your Renaissance-era angel diaper and let’s take a gander!

    Leslie and Ben chat awkwardly (they’re as awkward as the word “awkward” is to type) about the upcoming community art show. Chris, lilting and stilting as ever, interrupts the awkwardfest with an announcement: he’s successfully roped a filly named Cindy Miller from the County Commissioner’s Office into going out on a blind date with Ben! Chris promises that Ben will love her inner beauty.

    Leslie and Ben, caught off guard, protest slightly, Leslie by pointing out Chris’s “rule” forbidding interoffice dating, and Ben by staring dumbly. Then, in a total junior-high move, Chris calls ol’ Cindy “Inner Beauty” Miller on speakerphone and makes Ben say something. He stammers, “How are you doing?” on Chris’s command, prompting Cupid to exclaim: “Wooooo! Sparks are flying! I might have to call the Fire Department!”

    A woeful Leslie bitches to Ann about how she can’t make out with the light bulb she wants to make out with. Way to go, Metaphor Molly! Ann suggests Paxil. Ben, meanwhile, is meandering the City Halls looking for a roommate. Tom’s no help, preferring to take on only hot lady boarders with whom he can perform his “ritual” (involving the Clapper and Boyz II Men, of course). He suggests talking to a fellow homeless person: Andy.

    Andy and April are into the idea of having someone help with their rent and lay out the house rules for Ben, which include things like when addressing April in Spanish, one must use the formal Usted and when watching sad movies, one must wear mascara so as to make it clear to onlookers whether or not one has been crying. Also, electricity is free, and the TV stays on all day long to thwart would-be burglars. Ben agrees to move in that night, preferring the April and Andy Show to the random wake-up calls and bedbug infestation of his current residence: the Pawnee Super Sweets Hotel.

    Parks and Rec

    At the Visions of Nature Community Art Show opening, Ron states the obvious (“this room has several paintings in it, some are big, some are small”) during his Leslie-coerced welcome speech. The Parks & Rec crew is gathered in front of Jerry’s contribution: an oil painting of “Centaur goddess ‘Diaphena’ slaying a great stag.” To Jerry’s surprise and delight, the gang says it’s stunning and breathtaking. Leslie, staring at the topless Centaur goddess with the tiny yellow braid in her hair breathes, “Is that me?” Jerry stutteringly cops to the resemblance, saying it was a subconscious move as he was thinking about powerful women when he was painting it. He apologizes and offers to take it down. But Leslie stops him—No! She loves it. And art is magnificent.

    And the fat little seraph over there on the right? He’s got Tom’s face.

    Over Tom’s screams of “I look like a pregnant baby!” Leslie, her newfound sensual power blossoming outward, flirts with a curly-headed corduroy blazer-wearing art-loving dude who admits that it’s hot. Jerry, you’ve created a tiny braid-wearing monster.

    The next day, Leslie sports a tiny yellow goddess braid, answers to “Aphrodite,” and bosses people around powerfully. Tom is super pissed about Jerry “killing the Jay-Z vibe” that he has been crafting for years and turning it into a Fat Brown Baby vibe. Leslie is called into Chris’s office to discuss the controversial painting—a.k.a., a piece of government-funded animal porn depicting bestiality, according to Marsha, the uptight snit of a woman who seems to pop up to throw a wrench into Leslie’s plans from time to time. She wants the painting destroyed. But Marsha ‘bout to get an arrow in her ass.

    Good morning, roomie! Would you like some breakfast? It’s turkey chili served on a Frisbee. No? Okay, more for us. Hey wanna play Xbox? Just bought it with your rent money, dude! OK, we’ll take your Laundry Doing 101 class later. Have a good day at Adult Work!

    Leslie and a porn star Brandi Maxxxx face off in an art vs. porn point/counterpoint on the Ya’ Heard? With Perd show. Leslie is still rocking the Aphrodite braid, and vigorously defends “human breasts” and art in general. Brandi shocks Leslie by pointing out their similarities, then spiraling into a list of all the acts sexual people like her and Leslie should be able to practice freely. Tom perks up, titillated, in the wings. Even Perd seems a little hot under the collar. Later, Tom attempts to work his magic with Brandi Maxxx, who immediately recognizes him as the fat baby from the painting. Total lady boner-killer*, obviously.

    Back at Casa de Avril, Andrejandro y Benito, the new roommate (an official Adult Person) is doling out lessons in basic organization, but dials it down when he finds all of A&A’s bills safely packed inside the freezer. Now the lesson is about balancing checkbooks. Cut to how-to-open-a-bank-account lessons, which finally devolves into complete pointlessness the instant that Andy bites into a ballpoint pen and becomes Ben’s barely-willing blue-lipped pupil.

    Chris is disappointed with Leslie’s TV appearance and decides (he’s such a decider!) to convene the public art commission. Leslie figures she’s got the PAC by the granola because they are hippie-types who love art. At the meeting Tom takes the anti-art stance based on pure, seething vanity, pointing to his tubby bewinged self and sputtering, “This is thing is disgusting and wrong!” The record reflected that the Fat Baby was referring to the fat baby in the painting. Leslie then takes the floor, but despite her pro-art stance involving citations of the great societies of history, the commission votes to destroy the piece because it “has nipples in it.”

    Ben instructs A&A to go to Bed, Bath & Beyond (BB&B) and purchase basic-adult-need-type stuff like oven mitts. They try to get Ben to do it but he can’t–he has a date with an inner beauty. A&A head to BB&B alone and are amazed at the quantity of merchandise that greets them. They try to grapple with the list, but April becomes distracted by the As Seen on TV display kiosk and starts piling Shake Weights and Slap Chops into their shopping cart. At checkout, when Andy brings up their lack of adult-need-type stuff purchases, April defends her cartful of junk: adults are boring and she hates them. Ever-supportive Andy backs her up by adding a Marshmallow Shooter to the cart and promising to shoot her in the face while she’s sleeping. It’s all so tender, April almost starts to cry.

    Bitchface Marcia has come to City Hall to claim the painting, asking Leslie if she’d prefer a public burning or a private one that she’ll film and post on her blog. Leslie tries to reason with her by offering to keep it out of public view. But Marsha declines the offer, stating that “this painting is going to burn. First here, then in hell.” Leslie grabs the painting and runs off with it while screaming, “MAKE ME, STAG! I AM DIAPHENA!”

    Parks and Rec

    Leslie is surprised when Ben answers the door at A&A’s. Ben explains that he has moved into the spare room, and Leslie explains that she’s trying to hide the painting from an angry mob of art destroyers. What painting? Oh, you know, just the one of her as a Centaur. “And it’s a nude. Just basically like the chestal region, mostly.” While she deals with Chris’s angry phone call during which he implores her to return the piece to City Hall, Ben peeks at it. Awesomesauce.

    When A&A return from their fruitful shopping trip, Leslie meaningfully admits to Ben that she’s sick of all the rules in government right now (wink, wink!). April sees the image of Diaphena’s chestal region and asks Leslie if that’s her as a naked horse. When she acknowledges the resemblance, both Andy and April say that they’d hit that. Leslie leaves with her work of art. Ben asks A&A how it went at BB&B. Andy peppers him with marshmallows.

    Andy’s super into the new concept of eating cereal out of a bowl with a spoon, though he didn’t quite get that he’s not supposed to bring his new home dishes into work. He’ll get it. Andy inquires about the “weird vibe” between Ben and Leslie. Ben admits, perhaps, because he didn’t quite like Cindy “Inner Beauty” Miller, that they like each other but can’t date because of Chris’s rule. Andy is floored, but offers approval, and says if he’s lucky, in about three weeks’ time, they’ll be married.

    Leslie surrenders the painting to Marsha, but not before Jerry has “painted over” Diaphena: the Centaur now resembles Tom with six-pack. (In fact, the Trickster Leslie ordered Jerry to paint a completely new piece). April says he looks like Enrique Iglesias and Tom beams. He beams, that is, until Andy and April ask where the penis is. All together now: DAMMIT, JERRY!

    Haven’t had enough? Click here to take Ron Swanson’s Are You a Normal American or an Artsy Weirdo quiz!

    *This phrase credited to fellow Punchline Magazine recapper Carla Sosenko.

    Watch the full episode below!

    Megan Gilbert

    Megan Gilbert is a Brooklyn-based writer, making her a mystical unicorn. She has written for the New York Press, Paste Magazine blog, Blush Media, Underwater New York. She writes ad copy for Gawker Media, holds an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Sarah Lawrence College, and is working on a novel starring a mystical unicorn (jk). Read her work at ithardlymatters.com and follow her on Twitter: @ithardlymatt3rs

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