While its current season, coming to an end tonight with an episode entitled “Are You Better Off?,” hasn’t been the strongest of the now five-year run of “Parks and Recreation,” it has had a collection of some monumental, sweet, and ridiculous moments. From Leslie (Amy Poehler) and Ben’s (Adam Scott) wedding to Vice President Joe Biden’s cameo to Jerry’s (Jim O’Heir) retirement, to Ann (Rashida Jones) and Chris (Rob Lowe) deciding to have a baby, Pawnee has been the most interesting town in all of American TV this year.
We still don’t know if we’re going to get another dose of Leslie and the gang next fall — although with this season’s 22-episode order and the looks of NBC’s ratings, it seems likely. Until then we’ll look back on some of the funniest, finest and most surprising moments of our favorite people from the parks department — because honestly, who makes government as fun as they do?
Leslie: Every moment Leslie is on screen is a great one, but this season she got a little more dedicated to the job. She’s maintained her Pawnee pride by covering Eagleton’s Wreston St. James in shaving cream, taught senior citizens how to put on condoms, turned an old video store into a porn shop, and fake killed Pawnee in an emergency drill. It’s hard to choose just one top funny Leslie moment, so`instead we’ll pick the most heartwarming: when Leslie spent her and Ben’s day off trying to give Jerry a memorable last day in the Nicole Holofcener-directed “Jerry’s Retirement.” Because in the end, who would’ve worked so hard to make Jerry happy? Only Leslie.
Ron: This season we discovered a new side of the man who hides his emotions: Ron (Nick Offerman) in love. Not that the poor guy ever had a chance to show his soft side before with Tammy I or II, but when he met Diane (Lucy Lawless), a tough single mother oddly similar to Ron, he finally let his guard down. In “Women in Garbage,” first Ron has a fake tea party with Diane’s daughters and allowed them to give him a makeover, then he let them cover his office in glitter. But best and most shocking of all, Ron said those three words we thought he’d never admit: “I love you.” Behind that mustache is a big gooey heart.
Ben: Ben had so many fantastic Ben moments this season that it’s hard to even count them all. Not only did the guy propose, wager $500 on a JJ’s waffle iron for Leslie on Waffle Day, give her the greatest engagement present ever — a meet and greet with Mr. Joe Biden — but he did a charming, gallant and uncharacteristic thing in spontaneously asking Leslie to get married at the gala in “Emergency Response.” While it’s clear that Ben would do anything for Leslie, that was a surprise — and the award for the biggest romantic goes to, well, you already know.
Andy: Andy’s (Chris Pratt) CIA agent alias Burt Macklin didn’t get to become a reality this season, as Andy failed half the exam to become a cop. However, he still found ways to protect and serve, whether its accompanying Ron trick-or-treating with Diane’s daughters or refereeing Leslie’s challenge with Patton Oswalt’s history-loving Garth Blunden. That episode, “Article Two,” had to be Andy’s funniest as he volunteered to oversee Leslie’s challenge for free — after Tom (Aziz Ansari) admitted he was getting $100 for it — and realized with the utmost glee the fact that “Butter is my favorite food!” Then he jumped into the lake naked, just because he’s Andy.
April: We saw a lot of April (Aubrey Plaza) in season five, and she proved why she’s one of the best parts of the show. Although she dominated a Pawnee forum — shut ’em down, April! — and showed some rare initiative when trying to make Lot 48 a dog park (even if it was to spite Leslie), her hands down most excellent moment happened with, surprisingly, Ann. “Secrets, stolen, from deep inside…” April sang, as she and Ann kicked off a Cyndi Lauper “Time After Time” sing-a-long in “Bailout,” with Donna (Retta) jumping in from outside the room, creating one of the greatest “Parks & Rec” scenes in history.
Donna: Each time Donna graces the screen, if even just for a raise of the eyebrow, it’s a highlight of any “Parks & Rec” episode. While Donna didn’t get as much screentime this season, she made up for it with some great one-liners. From being a compatible parent match with Chris (“Your hair, my everything else”) to hitting on the new intern to some signature blunt honesty (”Hope no one minds if I live tweet this bitch!”), Donna always kept us laughing. Yet the finest of the finest Donna moments this season was a line in “Ron and Diane” that was hopefully inscribed on plenty of holiday cards: “Merry Critches, bitches!”
Tom: Tom has had funnier lines and more memorable moments in previous seasons, but managed to maintain his Haverford swag — literally — this year with his new business venture, even getting himself a girl, although Mona Lisa (Jenny Slate) really shouldn’t count. But Tom losing his cool was his best moment of the season, when he saw himself becoming the new Jerry in “Jerry’s Retirement.” Although “Pilo Filo” didn’t last long, it was one of those mistakes that will haunt Tom forever.
Ann: Ann’s major moment was one that defined her character’s arc in the later half of this season — in “Ann’s Decision,” she decided to have a baby! No one saw that coming — except maybe those who spotted some foreshadowing when her bachelorette party for Leslie was littered in penis decorations. Ann really proved that she wanted to be independent for the first time — no boyfriend, no boyfriend-adopted habits, just her. And look where it got her, right back where we knew it would, with Chris.
Chris: Chris was stuck in an overemotional mood for most of the season — crying, oversharing his feelings and not really being his usual excessively eccentric self . But he finally pulled himself out of it and became a part of the gang. If there was a prize for best “Parks & Rec” friend, it would undoubtedly go to Chris, since he not only threw one amazing bachelor party, but five in “Two Parties.” From football stadiums to steaks to vodka light flashes, Chris gave Ben, Andy, Ron, Tom and Jerry the best bachelor parties they never had.
Jerry: Poor Jerry never gets a break, but finally this season he shocked us and shows off some skills and a fabulous home life. The anticipation turned to befuddlement when everyone finally met Jerry’s not only gorgeous daughters, but smoking wife (played, hilariously, by Christie Brinkley). But Jerry took home the gold this season in “Jerry’s Retirement” by proving that he literally has the perfect family. The “eggs, bacon and toast” song may be the most bizarre and amusing moment of season five, especially when the klutzy-in-the-office Jerry caught a mug that nearly dropped. The Gergich family mystery continues…