During this year’s Summer Olympics, NBC’s best play-by-play analyst was Retta, who plays Donna on ‘Parks And Recreation’. Her tweets about chocolate tumblers and the Olympics trying to break a bitch were amazing, and as sports bloggers it’s our duty to shine the spotlight on every legitimately hilarious person who touches sports.
Not only is Retta’s show one of the best on television right now, it’s also one of the most sports friendly. That makes it a perfect fit for Sports On TV, our column dedicated to the best sports moments of shows about something other than sports. This is the first still-on-the-air show we’ve attempted to cover, so if you’re reading this a year from now and are all, “HEY, WHERE’S THE EPISODE WHERE MCKAYLA MARONEY SHOWS UP AND ANDY WINS THE LONG JUMP” or whatever, give us a break, we aren’t time travelers.
With greatest possible love to Retta, Michael Shur, Greg Daniels and the rest of the talented people making my favorite 30 minutes of any given week, here are our 20 favorite sports moments from ‘Parks And Recreation’. I don’t know what this is, but I want you to read all of it.
More Sports On TV: Saved By The Bell | Full House | King Of The Hill | The Wire | The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air | Married… With Children | 30 Rock | The Brady Bunch | The Three Stooges | The Simpsons | Glee
(Guest contributor Bobby Big Wheel of SB Nation)
Episode: “Pilot” (season 1, episode 1)
What Happens: Ron ends the episode by showing the audience his office. There is a giant poster of Bobby Knight in the corner of the office and Ron expresses great admiration for the former Hoosiers coach.
Key line: “This is my basketball court, I don’t want to see any double dribbles, I don’t want to see any three second violations….Bobby Knight!”
Mike Schur is a goddamn genius. He took Ron Swanson, who could easily be a one-note character, and makes him into a human, or at least a character that could be a human. Ron’s a small government conservative yet he supports liberal do-gooder Leslie Knope. He runs the Pawnee Rangers like Parris Island but is willing to admit that the Pawnee Goddesses are better suited to lead his young charges. Ron Swanson’s just a big lug but he’ll go through almost any length to prevent you from finding out.
Which is why showing us that he adores Bob Knight in the pilot episode was so brilliant. It introduces Ron Swanson to the audience in the same way Swanson would introduce himself to anyone in Pawnee. And Knight’s no bullshit routine does mesh nicely with Ron’s. For example, he once said this about team rules:
“I don’t have any rules. The way I figure it, if I can’t communicate to my players the difference between right and wrong without a list of rules then something’s wrong with me. I let the older guys make it clear to the younger ones what they can and can’t do and should and shouldn’t do. If someone does screw up, then I tell them they screwed up and decide how to punish them.”
Sounds a lot like our libertarian friend, no? Swanson loves to play up that part of Knight’s persona, and he sort of likes people to think that he’s a jerk and a bully like Knight too. But as the show progressed, we learned that Ron Swanson is only Bob Knight on the outside. Beneath that gruff exterior he’s pure Dean Smith.
Of course, Swanson still ends up channeling Knight once in a while.
Episode: “Christmas Scandal” (season 2, episode 12)
What Happens: April gets Andy to help her pick out a gift for her gay boyfriend, because there’s nobody else to ask and Andy is “kind of young”. His suggestions are all amazing: Brokeback Mountain DVD, chaps/assless chaps, spray tan gift certificates, a trip to Germany (“Germany is awesome”) and “hip-hop abs dance fitness DVD”. She asks him what gift he’d get for himself, then gets him a loose approximation as a thank you for helping him. It’s all completely adorable. In another part of the episode, Ann and Mark have a romance that nobody could possibly give a shit about.
Key line: “You know how people say that you should give gifts that you’d want to get yourself? What would you want?” “Easy. Indianapolis Colts Reggie Wayne jersey, number 87, double-XL, home blue, signed by Reggie Wayne right after he catches a touchdown to win the Super Bowl.”
I’ve been trying to put into words why the Andy and April romance on ‘Parks and Rec’ worked so well, and I’ve come up with two explanations that work concurrently with each other.
1. Sometimes you like characters on shows because the actors playing them are undeniably lovable. If you don’t like Chris Pratt and Aubrey Plaza, you’re doing it wrong.
2. Instead of doing what most shows do by putting two characters into a relationship to get you to like them, ‘Parks and Rec’ took two characters you already liked and made you like them more by putting them together. That’s great, isn’t it? We never got to know Pam without Jim or Jim without Pam, but if Andy and April had never hooked up they would’ve still been great parts of the show. Watching them fall into an absolutely reasonable kind of young person love (complete with a shockingly drama-free marriage) was the best.
Also, Andy getting the football jersey he eventually wears to his wedding is a pretty heartwarming moment on its own.
(Guest contributor Ashley Burns of FilmDrunk)
Episode: “Telethon” (season 2, episode 22)
What Happens: “Telethon” was one of the best ensemble episodes in all of Parks and Rec’s 4 (and I’ll just go ahead and say 5) seasons, because it gave us not only Sewage Joe, Joan Callamezzo and, my favorite, Perd Hapley, but it also marked the first visit to Pawnee by Detlef Schrempf, who played for the Indiana Pacers from 1989 to 1993.
Leslie was depending on Detlef’s appearance on the 24-hour diabetes telethon, “Pawnee Cares”, to boost her time block’s donations, as her and the parks team had been stuck with the late shift, when everybody in the town was asleep. Throwing a wrench in her plans, though, Tom kidnapped Detlef and took him to the Snakehole Lounge, because he was trying to kiss the club owner’s ass and apparently people in that small town love 47-year old basketball players and crappy night clubs.
Key line: “I need you to make that out to Wendy. Tom is an amazing guy. You never should have left him. You made a huge mistake in your life and you’re probably going to die alone. Love, Detlef.”
This episode not only celebrated one of the NBA’s greatest German imports, but it also hilariously showed us how desperate Tom is to be loved.
(Ed. Note – I personally love this episode because Detlef and Shawn Kemp were my go-to Sega Genesis NBA Jam team, assuming I’d gotten beaten as the Golden State Warriors and wanted to dunk all over everybody.)
Episode: “Harvest Festival” (season 3, episode 7)
What Happens: The opening of season 3 is a seven-episode arc about the department’s attempts to resurrect Pawnee’s “Harvest Festival” and save their jobs. Among the attractions include a Sweetums plus-sized roller coaster, Southern Indiana’s Largest Corn Maze and eight full blocks of fried foods. The event brings in celebrities, as well, including miniature horse Lil’ Sebastian (the “8th most photographed object in all of America” during the week of the 1989 Harvest Festival) and Indiana basketball legend Larry Bird’s 84-year-old Aunt Tilda.
Key line: “You got Tilda??” “Yeah!” “Ohhhh.” “We got Tilda.”
‘Parks and Recreation’ has never been shy about using sports stars in the stupidest way possible (see also: Donna using “a NASCAR” in her Famous People From Indiana Last Supper), but an old lady in a generic Celtics jersey signing autographs because she’s related to Larry Bird is amazing.
Also amazing: the signed photo of Larry Legend on Leslie Knope’s desk. It’s epic when you really stop and look at it. Firstly, it’s signed “To Lesly”. Secondly, when tasked to write something on an autograph he wrote “SINK THAT SHOT”, which is technically basketball related but barely, and kinda sounds like what Jon Bois would come up with if you asked him to pretend like he was Larry Bird. Thirdly, he signs the picture LARRY B. In case you thought maybe Larry’s a douchebag and signs his autographs that way in real life, no. All things considered, it’s like its own little ‘Lost’ episode. I’m guessing Tom just signed a picture of Larry Bird on the fly one day and gave it to her as a birthday present or something.
Update: Holy crap, I’m right. From the incredible Ken Tremendous himself …
I am now retiring from websites forever, goodbye.
(Guest contributor Bobby Big Wheel of SB Nation)
Episode: “Flu Season” (season 3, episode 2)
What Happens: With most of the Parks and Recreation department sick with the flu, Ron enlists Andy to lend him a hand at the office. Ron only picked Andy because he thought Andy would be a colossal f**k-up who accidentally hung up on everyone who called in (he was right) but the two bond, first over protein-heavy food but the Colts as well. The pair ends up throwing around a football in the parking lot, and Ron gets so happy that he actually laughs.
Key line: “I’m surrounded by a lot of women in this department, and that includes the men.”
I don’t know how many of you work in a small office, but I do, and barely anyone else there follows football. A guy who comes into the office once a week is a Giants season ticket holder and sometimes I watch games after work with a *shudder* Cowboys fan, but that’s it. We have more vegetarians in my office than football fans, so I really feel Ron’s pain. I can’t imagine how relieved I’d be if someone I worked with every day were a well-versed sports fan who I could chat with. Not someone who listened to WFAN or read Bleacher Report, but someone who actually knows about football. Andy may be a dope, but at least he’s a dope you can get along with, and sometimes that’s all you need in a co-worker.
(Guest contributor Ashley Burns of Kissing Suzy Kolber)
Episode: “Ron And Tammys” (season 4, episode 2)
What Happens: In the episode’s main plot, we were finally introduced to Ron Swanson’s first wife, Tammy 1, which was pretty cool, because we got to see Ron without a mustache and saying workplace clichés like, “Hump day, am I right?” and “Cool beans.” But it was disappointing, because this should have been split into two episodes. In fact, I’m upset that the show never devoted one entire episode to the inner workings of Entertainment 720.
Alas, that’s another problem for another day. I’m just upset because working at the Entertainment 720 headquarters was Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert, as well as Detlef Schrempf making a return cameo. Hibbert and Schrempf were hired to just hang out and play basketball. Pretty simple.
Key line: “Roy used to play for the Pacers… now he plays for Entertainment 720.”
Jean-Ralphio is one of the – if not the most – beloved minor characters that this show has produced, which was exemplified by his re-naming of Ben to Angelo and then Jell-O Shot, and then completely driven home by the ridiculous “Take me there!” alley-oop.
What makes the whole scene even better after the fact is that Hibbert was jealous that Derrick Rose was going to be on an episode of The Good Wife during the NBA Lockout, so Hibbert called his agent and told him that he wanted to be on Parks and Rec. That damn lockout was actually good for something.
(Guest contributor Bobby Big Wheel of SB Nation)
Episode: “Go Big Or Go Home” (season 3, episode 1)
What Happens: The Parks and Recreation department is operating on a skeleton budget, so the only thing they’re allowed to do is run a youth basketball league because Pawnee is in basketball-mad Indiana. Andy and Ron coach the only two teams, and the former is a players’ coach whereas the latter is more of a strict disciplinarian. Of course, any difference in team preparation is obviated by Tom who, jealous that Ron is now dating his ex-wife, proves to be a biased referee. Tom ends up calling so many fouls on Ron’s team that it is forced to forfeit.
Key line: “Under my tutelage you will grow from boys to men. From men into gladiators. And from gladiators into Swansons.”
Pete Carroll has never coached against Nick Saban, so Andy Dwyer against Ron Swanson is the closest we have seen to such a matchup. While Ron’s team looked more prepared for the big game, as a former youth sports participant (seriously, my parents still have my participant trophies on display in my old bedroom), it was way more fun to play on Andy’s team instead of Ron’s. I once played for a former Marine who led us to a championship but made me hate my life when he’d force me to run laps till I puked after a loss. Please let me play for Andy instead, he’ll take us to Baskin Robbins after the game even if we don’t win.
Also, never forget that the Swanson Pyramid of Greatness originated in youth sports. While I’d hate to play for Ron as a kid, I agree with everything on the pyramid except for his political stuff. My belief in the tenets of animal protein, self-reliance and the beauty of old wooden ships is the reason why I haven’t driven off all my Republican Twitter followers yet.
(Guest contributor Bobby Big Wheel of SB Nation)
Episode: “Leslie’s House” (season 2, episode 14)
What Happens: Leslie faces dual crises when she not only has to determine which courses at the rec center that she has to eliminate due to budgetary constraints, but also has to impress her new out-of-town beau, Justin, as he visits Pawnee for the first time. Afraid that Justin, a city mouse from the bustling metropolis of Indianapolis, Leslie invites the rec center instructors on the chopping block to her house. This includes a fencing instructor.
Key line: “This is how you eat it” (not related but the best line from the episode)
Fencing is such a douchebag sport. There are a few prerequisites to you becoming a fencer. The first is that your parents have enough money to pay for an instructor. The second is that you had to be bad at regular sports but insecure enough to try and find something to do. It’s like sailing or crew in that regard. So it makes sense that Leslie would try to impress her douchiest suitor (Tom N. Haverford notwithstanding) by bringing a fencing instructor to her party.
(Guest contributor Ashley Burns of What’s Coming Out Of Miley’s Vagina?)
Episode: “Eagleton” (season 3, episode 12)
What Happens: We were introduced to Pawnee’s neighboring town, Eagleton, where everything was so much nicer and everyone was so much wealthier. To hammer home just how different the towns are and how much they don’t get along, we learned that Leslie’s former best friend and Eagleton parks director Lindsay had constructed a giant fence at Lafayette Park, which the two cities shared, to keep Pawnee’s less-than-desirable folk out.
That obviously didn’t sit well with Leslie, who went toe-to-toe with her former friend, who stabbed Leslie in the back by taking the Eagleton job after Leslie had turned it down.
Key line: “The only thing I’m guilty of is loving Pawnee. And punching Lindsay in the face and shoving a coffee filter down her pants.”
Only after getting arrested for dumping trash over the city wall and fighting Lindsay, Leslie ended up getting the best of Lindsay and Eagleton, when she turned Pawnee’s side of the park into a wiffle ball field so kids would constantly hit balls into Eagleton’s side. This was ultimately important because it reminded us that wiffle ball is awesome.
Episodes: “Go Big Or Go Home” (season 3, episode 1)
What Happens: Thanks to “anti-establishment voter rebellion”, 18-year old Partidge, Minnesota, resident Ben Wyatt found himself elected mayor. His big idea: a winter sports complex called “Ice Town”. It was never completed, bankrupted the town and got the Boy Mayor impeached two months into his term. Wyatt grows up and eventually relocates to work as its Deputy City Manager, but his history as a teen Ice Clown is never far behind. A few episodes later (in “Media Blitz”), the questions about his failures become too much for him to handle and he has a nervous breakdown on ‘Ya Hard With Perd’, talking about “feeling up Cindy Eggert for the first time for, like, five minutes”.
Key line: “Newspaper headline was ‘Ice Town Costs Ice Clown His Town Crown.'”
I love Ben, because he’s one of the only realistic “nerds” on television. Characters on ‘The Big Bang Theory’ are like a minstrel show for nerd culture, wearing super hero t-shirts and talking about World Of Warcraft (incorrectly!) so people like my parents can watch and say, “oh man, he’s such a NERD! I love it!” Other characters, good characters like Abed on ‘Community’, are nerds but in a fantastic way most people just aren’t. Ben Wyatt is a functional, adult male with a good job and a girlfriend, but he will get bent the f**k out of shape if you think Star Wars is nerdy, because everybody’s seen it. HBO would NEVER cancel ‘Game Of Thrones’, it’s a crossover hit. It’s not just for fantasy enthusiasts, they’re telling human stories in a FANTASY WORLD. THAT is a nerd, friends. I know, I am one. My clothes aren’t that nice and I’ve never made out with Lizzy Caplan, but we’re the same.
Also, if I was put in charge of a town at age 18 I would’ve bankrupted it trying to build a sports arena, too. Everything I learned about city management comes from Sim City, and hell, I couldn’t keep my zones from doing that annoying thing where they go blank out of nowhere and a tiny electricity bolt flashes in the corner. I PUT LIKE 30 POWERLINES ON YOU YOU STUPID PROPERTY.
Episode: “Tom’s Divorce” (season 2, episode 11)
What Happens: Caught in the middle of a break-up afterburn he can’t understand (can you blame him? He used to live with Rashida Jones), Andy challenges Mark to a game of pool. He’s trying to hustle him a la Uncle Phil or Danny Tanner, but it turns out Mark is great at pool and beats him several times in a row. Andy makes one last, desperate gamble: if Mark wins, Andy has to leave him and Ann alone for good. If Andy wins, he gets Ann. Mark scratches on the 8-ball and Andy wins. Mark and Ann go on with their relationship as usual, because seriously.
Key line: “I know that legally Ann is now mine, but it weirdly doesn’t feel that way.”
This is great, because if Urkel had put Laura Winslow on the line in a game of pool or whatever he would’ve been a “man of his word” and lent her out as property or whatever. Mark Brendanawicz was never the best part of this show (as much as I loved him in All The Real Girls, he got mind-wiped the second Chris and Ben showed up), but his straight man schtick really came in handy sometimes. Like here, or when Ron couldn’t stop being Ron Swanson for five seconds and get his shop up to code.
Funny enough, Andy officially ending his shifty non-romance of pit-dwelling opened him up to being in one of the best TV romances ever, and left Ann and Mark to kinda fester and decide the show only needed one nice looking wet blanket.
(Guest contributor Ashley Burns of UPROXX)
Episode: “Road Trip” (season 3, episode 13)
What Happens: Chris sends Ben and Leslie, who are totally digging each other but unable to act on it because of the city’s rules about co-workers dating, to Indianapolis to plead Pawnee’s case for hosting the state’s little league tournament. As the tension between Ben and Leslie boils over, Ben tells the committee all about how wonderful of a city Pawnee is, but homeboy’s a slick Willy Shakespeare, because he’s totally using Pawnee as a metaphor for Leslie.
Once again, as Summer Catch proved, baseball is the truest form of bringing true love together.
Key line: “And so as you can see Pawnee has 12 beautiful baseball diamonds. And our seats have extra cushions due to the massive size of our average citizen.”
This episode also introduced us to Tom’s game show idea for “Know Your Boo” which should absolutely be a real show.
(Ed. Note – Pawnee’s rampant raccoon infestation is one of my favorite Parks and Rec running gags, especially when it involves Perd Hapley with a flat-top sharing video footage of raccoons threatening Little Leaguers. It’s just like my hometown, only replace “raccoons” with “weird adults trying to sell pot”.)
Episode: “The Comeback Kid” (season 4, episode 11)
What Happens: Looking for a boost on the campaign trail, Leslie gets Ann to beg high school basketball legend “Pistol” Pete Disellio to give his endorsement. He agrees, but only if they don’t use his nickname, reference the one thing he’s famous for or asking him to dunk. After one of the most agonizing attempts to cross a hockey rink without skates while carrying a three-legged dog ever, Pete saves the day by showing up in his old (racist) jersey, ready to make the appropriate “slam dunk” endorsement joke and jam it home. Unfortunately for Pete, he’s on ice, and … it doesn’t end well. Cue ‘Get On Your Feet’.
Key line: “Sometimes life dunks you.”
I will never be able to hear Gloria Estefan without laughing again.
The people of Pawnee, on the whole, are basically good. They’re ignorant, prone to yelling in town meetings about Laura Linney or sandwiches they found and are more or less the people from Idiocracy in modern times, but they generally mean well and can see that amplified a thousand times in Leslie.
One of the things that makes me love this show is that the people actually LIKE each other. So many shows are full of people insulting and screaming at each other about asinine shit for 20 minutes, then dropping an “aw but just kidding I love you” at the end without earning it. The people on ‘Parks and Recreation’ seem to genuinely enjoy working with each other and care about one another’s well-being, whether it gets dramatic or not. Ann wants to help Leslie, Pistol Pete wants to help, and even Tom thinks his 14 inches of red carpet would be enough to clear an ice rink. It’s nice, even when it’s completely f**king stupid.
Also, hey NBC store, I would buy one of those racist basketball jerseys. I’m a Cleveland Indians fan already, you’ve pretty much got my money.
(Guest contributor Bobby Big Wheel of SB Nation)
Episodes: “Practice Date” (season 2, episode 4) and “Tom’s Divorce” (Season 2, Episode 11)
What Happens: Tom’s wife leaves him once their green card marriage is no longer necessary. Leslie consoles a despondent Tom by taking him and the gang to a dinosaur-themed restaurant called Jurassic Fork. But Tyranna-Caesar salads fail to cheer Tom up so everyone ends up at the Glitter Factory, a local gentlemen’s establishment. Ron Swanson tags along maintaining that, while he is not attracted to strippers, he does enjoy the Glitter Factory’s free breakfast buffet.
Key line: “Strippers do nothing for me. I like a strong, self-possessed woman at the top of their fields. Your Steffi Grafs. Your Sheryl Swoopses… but I will take a free breakfast buffet anytime… anyplace.”
One of the things that Parks & Recreation does really well is let character traits simmer without boiling over, and Ron’s attraction to female athletes is a perfect example. Earlier in Season 2, Ron said that Steffi Graf rated a perfect 10 on his scale of attractiveness of women (also, dudes, can we stop rating women on a scale of 1-10?). And later in season 2 Leslie mentions that he attends a shocking number of WNBA games. Hopefully there will be a big payoff down the road, and in Season 5 Ron will start dating someone like Mary Lou Retton or Lisa Leslie.
Episode: “The Possum” (season 2, episode 18)
What Happens: A golf-course-dwelling opposum bites Mayor Gunderson’s crazy dog Rufus, so Leslie forms a task force to catch it. The force: Tom Haverford (who immediately runs away), useless animal control workers who are only following her because she stole their Nerf football and Andy, who becomes a hero when he dives on and captures the infamous “Fairway Frank”. An issue arises as to whether the Mayor wants the beast for revenge or just for a trophy he can piss on in his bathroom, but whatever the case, a lot of good golf games were ruined.
Key line: “I used to love Tiger Woods … because he was a great champion. But after that sex scandal? The man is a GOD.”
Fairway Frank is this awful possum who lives near the sixth hole of the public golf course. And he’s actually number three on the Parks Department’s most wanted pest list, right behind the bats who like to poop on the bell tower and Poopy, the raccoon who poops all over the high school cafeteria.
He’s awfully cute, though, as creatures that can stalk you in the night and bite you to death often are. Makes you wonder what’s going on in Pawnee’s ecosystem when raccoons can take over the town and opossums can assault any dogs that wander onto the golf course.
And while we’re quoting people:
(Guest contributor Mayor Burnsy of Twitter)
Episode: “Bowling For Votes” (season 4, episode 13)
What Happens: I have to be a little honest here – as much as I love this show, I got tired of the campaign stuff after a while, because it felt like it just dragged out, and I either needed more Paul Rudd or more attention to the side plots. This episode was a good example of the latter point. Leslie freaked out because some dick in a focus group said he wouldn’t vote for her, so she used his personal information to her advantage by hosting a bowling party.
Despite Ben’s opposition, Leslie focused solely on this one man’s vote and even after she bought him beer and wings, and lost to him in a bowling match on purpose, he still didn’t like her. By that point I really had his back. But over on another lane, Ron was bowling against Ann and Tom, who liked to use the granny style, much to Ron’s hilarious reaction.
Key line: “Straight down the middle, no hook, no spin, no fuss. Anything more and this becomes figure skating.”
As a bowling fan, I absolutely concur with Ron’s strategy. Also, bonus quote:
“Tom, I’m asking you as a man to stop this immediately!”
Ron’s reaction to Tom’s style was intensified by the fact that Tom was beating him. Eventually, Tom injured his hand while retrieving his ball at the same time as Ron, and he accused his boss of intentionally injuring him. At the episode’s end, Ron visited the bowling alley again and bowled a perfect game using the granny style, and as the manager came over to congratulate him, Ron told him to forget that he was ever there.
(Guest contributor Bobby Big Wheel of SB Nation)
Episode: “Summer Catalog” (Season 2, Episode 20)
What Happens: April and Andy, who are growing closer, go on a picnic with the rest of the department that will also serve as a photo shoot for its summer catalog. During the picnic they discuss Andy’s fledgling music career, and Andy says that he wants to write a song about the picnic. I’ll just let the following exchange explain the rest of the story:
Key lines: “Maybe I should write a song about a picnic.” “Ooh, where’d you come up with that idea?” “The picnic we’re having. I already have the perfect title: ‘Life Is A Picnic.'” “That’s good. How about… ‘Life Is A Picnic… With You.'” “Oh! It can be a about a girl. Or Peyton Manning!”
Readers of With Leather sister site Kissing Suzy Kolber knows that the Uproxx family has long expressed antipathy toward Fat Hump Colts fans. Colts fans, or at least the ones who are the most vocal on the Internet, lack all perspective about where their team fits in the league, both currently and historically. Andy Dwyer perfectly encapsulates that with one simple line. A love song could be about a girl…or best football player ever Peyton Manning! This isn’t Andy Dwyer’s normal stupidity, this is his Fat Hump stupidity.
(Guest contributor Burnsy of With Leather)
Episode: “Indianapolis” (season 3, episode 6)
What Happens: Leslie and Ron set out on a road trip to the state capital to accept a commendation, but the only thing that mattered was that Ron was visiting his favorite restaurant in the state, Charles Mulligan’s Steakhouse. Ron even kept a photo album of just pictures of him eating steaks at Charles Mulligan’s Steakhouse, and listening to him describe the photos was one of the greatest moments of all Swanson lore.
Key line: “I couldn’t care less about the commendation. But Indianapolis is home to Charles Mulligan’s Steak House. The best damn steak house in the damn state. I have taken a picture with every steak I’ve eaten there.”
Actually, I also want to include my favorite photo description: “February 96. The steak? Ribeye. The whiskey? Lagavulin 16. The lady next to me? A bitch. Specifically, my ex-wife, Tammy.”
So how is this sports-related? Well, Ron F*cking Swanson wouldn’t be so hellbent on visiting another man’s steakhouse if that man wasn’t a Swanson man. Charles Mulligan was the world’s bare-knuckle boxing champion, and Ron even kept the restaurant’s poster framed on his office wall. Gloves are for female chefs, I’d imagine Ron would say.
Unfortunately, it turns out the steakhouse was shut down. In fact, when Ron teared up as he asked Leslie if she thought the steaks were eaten before the restaurant was shut down, I finally recognized true sorrow.
Episode: “Hunting Trip” (season 2, episode 10)
What Happens: Every year, Ron, Jerry and Mark sneak away on a “trail survey”, a hunting trip masquerading as a government function. Talented hunter (and everything else) Leslie is determined to prove that she’s just one of the guys in the office and badgers Ron into letting the women of the office (and Tom, who has never been invited) go on the trail survey as well. Things don’t go well, and Ron ends up getting shot in the back of the head. More importantly, one of the windows gets shot out of Donna’s Mercedes.
Key line: “You know, Leslie, the Super Bowl is in a couple months. I usually watch it with my brothers, maybe you can come by during halftime and shoot me in the head?”
The first season of ‘Parks And Rec’ was a little iffy. I came around to it in the first scene of season 2, where Leslie raps the entirety of The Fresh Prince’s ‘Parents Just Don’t Understand’, but by ‘Hunting Trip’ I think everyone started to come around. It’s an episode that’s funny from beginning to end because the CHARACTERS are funny from beginning to end, and people getting pantsed and shot in the back of the head are plot devices, not the hook. That’s a challenging joke to write.
Also, If Tom Haverford had never started coming up with names for food, Leslie’s excuses for why she shot Ron would be the greatest improv’d list of something in ‘Parks And Recreation’ history.
I got that tunnel vision that girls get. I let my emotions get the best of me. I cared too much, I guess. I was thinking with my lady parts. I was walking and it felt icky. I thought there was gonna be chocolate. I don’t even remember! I’m wearing a new bra, and it closes in the front, so it popped open and it threw me off. All I wanna do is have babies! I’m just going through a thing right now. I guess when my life is incomplete, I wanna just shoot someone. This would not happen if I had a penis! Bitches be crazy. I’m good at tolerating pain; I’m bad at math, and… I’m stupid.
Third point of this entry: Donna is the most underrated character on the show. Donna is awesome.
Episode: “Ron And Tammy” (season 2, episode 8)
What Happens: When Tiger Woods feels invincible, he wears a red shirt and black pants. Ron wears the same thing after he’s had sex.
Key line: “I’m a simple man. I like pretty, dark-haired women and breakfast food. But this stock photo I bought at a framing store isn’t real. Today I got the real thing. A naked Tammy made me breakfast this morning. I should have taken a picture of it.”
Ron showing up to the office dressed like Tiger Woods, doing wacky dances and giving April 20 bucks because “kids always need money” is great because
1. Post-sex Ron Swanson is probably the weirdest dude on the planet, and
2. Seriously, WHO HAS SEX INVINCIBILITY CLOTHES?
The best part of Ron’s Championship attire is when it gets brought back later in the show as a way for the office to find out he’s hooked up with Tom’s ex-wife Wendy. It’s one of those moments that manages to be sad and super funny at the same time, a note ‘Parks And Rec’ hits more strongly and with more regularity than any show on television.
Episode: Season 5 Promo
What Happens: Tom and Ron are wrestling, because “Olympics”.
Key line: “I think I hurt my thigh!” “Time out.”
I’m not sure what’s going on beyond what you see, but ‘Parks And Recreation’s’ fifth season starts on September 27 and I’ll be happily waiting to update this list with whatever they come up with. Ron Swanson motionless on all fours in wrestling gear is somehow a better moment of characterization than some people get in a 10-year show run. Maybe Tom should start dropping elbows.
Bonus bonus: Andy breaking a world swimming record.
I love you, Parks and Rec.