Parks and Recreation is great at telling stories about local government, but it is also great at telling stories about friendship. Though the characters on the show are colleagues, for the most part, they are also friends, which means that they can argue with each other, but ultimately, they come through for each other. “The Fight” was a very good episode that showcased various friendships between the characters.

Tom and Ron couldn’t possibly be more different as people, but over time, they’ve formed a relationship of mutual respect, if not outright friendship. Thus, while Ron was reluctant to try Tom’s snake juice concoction at first, once he tried it, he wasn’t hesitant to recommend it to the club’s other patrons. But Ron really came through for Tom when Chris told Tom that he had to sell his shares in the Snake Hole. At first, Ron tried to get Chris to backpedal on his decision, and when that didn’t succeed, Ron opted to cheer Tom up with a gift, a wooden box containing a bottle of snake juice. These two have certainly come a long way since hiding each other’s secrets about a green card marriage and Duke Silver.

Tom’s snake juice story, as sweet as it was at its core, was a non-stop stream of hilarity on the surface. Of course, Ron reading Tom’s script generated more than a few laughs, but this episode really shined once everybody went to the Snake Hole. My inner nitpicker wonders why the hell so many people were partying on a weekday, but it’s easy to excuse such silliness when an episode is funny. As always, Jean-Ralphio brought the big laughs (which made me grateful that Undercovers got cancelled, freeing up Ben Schwartz to make recurring appearances on this show). I also enjoyed Tom’s list of potential business ventures – each idea was more ridiculous than the last – and everyone’s drunken reactions to the snake juice.

The A-plot about the titular fight between Ann and Leslie was a little less successful, but it worked overall. While I enjoyed their ridiculous arguments at the Snake Hole, I didn’t appreciate that Ben was the one who had to resolve the dispute; I’d have preferred to see them come to a resolution by themselves. I also thought that Ann letting it slip that to Ben that Leslie liked him was a clumsy, unnecessary plot development; Ben had already clued into the fact that Leslie might like him. That development was all too reminiscent of something I’ve come to hate about Community: a show poking fun at its own weaknesses isn’t clever. If something is “so high school,” calling it “so high school” doesn’t make it any less “so high school!” Additionally, the interview scene with Ann, Leslie, and Ben fell flat. People speaking about themselves in the third person isn’t funny. Please retire that stupid device, comedy writers!

On the other hand, the A-plot did manage to generate some good laughs, particularly towards the beginning of the episode. Chris reading out the public health posters about the former PR rep’s ex-wife made me laugh out loud. Between this and forcing Tom to sell his shares in the Snake Hole, it’s nice to see that Chris is getting more to do than just being positive. I also appreciated that the A-plot finally addressed a couple of long-standing issues. Firstly, it was nice to see someone call Ann out on her endless string of random hookups. Secondly, as much as I adore the Leslie/Ann friendship, it always felt weird that Ann spent so much time at city hall, even when she was dating Mark. It’s good that she now works there, so that Leslie/Ann scenes don’t feel forced. But I’m also happy that she’s continuing to work at the hospital part-time, allowing her to keep her valuable outsiders’ perspective.

On the fringes of the first of this week’s episodes – yes, we got a double header this week and we’re getting another next week – we had Andy and April’s cute little story about roleplaying. It made zero sense, but it was hilarious, so I’m happy with it. The less said about it, the better, I guess.

It would be so easy for Parks and Recreation to turn into a soap-com all about romance and who’s dating whom. But the show somehow manages to showcase friendships in a funny, natural way, and for that I’m thankful. Politics, friendship, romance, and straight-up wackiness – there’s truly nothing else like P & R on TV right now.

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