For the first time this season, Parks and Recreation has managed to utilise every single one of its recurring characters in Donna and Joe, and the result is so damn sweet.
As we reach the halfway point in the show’s final season stint, there’s a slight whiff of sadness in the air. In just three short weeks this iconic era in television as we know it will be over. But if Donna and Joe is anything to go by, we’re in for a major farewell. For the first time in a long time, Leslie takes a back-seat and allows Ben a much needed chance to shine. It’s easy to forget where our favourite little man started: from infamous failure in the world of politics thanks to his disastrous run as Mayor at the ripe old age of 18, to a married father of three running for congress. It finally feels like the world is Ben’s oyster – and no-one is as happy for him as Leslie.
After the outpouring of emotion that we witnessed in Leslie and Ron just a couple of episodes ago, it’s lovely to see that same kind-hearted nature being expressed once again by Mr Swanson. Rather surprisingly, weddings seem to be right up Ron’s street, but perhaps less surprisingly so for the architectural qualities of the churches rather than the betrothal of one person to another. Ron actually has a pivotal role in this week’s episode, with his fuller-than-ever heart helping Tom and Lucy find a way to express their major adoration for each other. The moustachioed maestro may at first dampen Tom’s mood by professing to Lucy that he would “marry her tomorrow”, but eventually tensions are eased and true feelings are revealed (in a super cool way of course, what else would you expect from Haverford?).
April gets a healthy and much appreciated break from her ‘woe is me’ storyline and really shines as Donna’s Maid of Honour. A woman of few words she may be, but her intent on giving the couple the happiest day of their lives really serves to highlight just how much the Parks family means to her. After years of what seemed to be unbelievable anecdotes surrounding the Meagle family and some not-so-subtle name drops, it was uber-satisfying to at last meet some of the now infamous relatives. Ginuwine finally makes an appearance as Donna’s cousin and shares a subtly hilarious scene with Billy Eichner that will leave you pining for more, and a dramatic confrontation with an abnormally large microwave will leave you sort of wishing you could be adopted into the Meagle family.
But the real star of the show here is the bride herself. It always felt a bit like Donna was lacking in screen time over the last few seasons, but this episode well and truly makes up for that. Her devotion to her friends is clear to see, and the tear-jerking gift to
Jerry Garry is a perfect example of just how wonderful a person she is. Move over Mercedes, there’s a new love in Donna’s life. Despite only making two guest appearances in the show’s seven season history, it really feels as if Joe is a member of the Parks and Rec family, and we hope there’s more of him to come in the remaining episodes (if not, we are so down for a Donna and Joe spin-off. Seriously).
It is episodes like Donna and Joe that remind us why we keep coming back for more; the writing on this show is so top-notch that there’s not a single character that you don’t care for. Which is going to make having to say good-bye that much harder. We’re dreading it already.
Words by Sophie Mace.