Adios, Ann. Later, Traeger. A pregnant nurse/beautiful tropical fish and an impossibly cheery city manager are packing up and leaving Pawnee to begin their new life together in Ann Arbor. Tonight’s episode of Parks and Recreation, which airs at 8:30 p.m. on NBC, will serve as the goodbye gala for Ann Perkins (Rashida Jones) and Chris Traeger (Rob Lowe), and you can only imagine how Leslie (Amy Poehler) will handle the parting of ways with her best friend. (To do less imagining and more receiving of actual hints from executive producer Michael Schur, click here with your tear-stained mouse.)
How does Poehler feel about the send-off installment? “What I love so much about that episode is what I feel I’m most proud about with Parks: It’s really funny and goofy, and then it’s really sweet and earned, and we get to act in it like actors instead of weird joke machines,” she tells EW. “It involves all the things I liked about all the shows growing up, like those moments on Cheers — not to compare us to Cheers — where you’re laughing and laughing and then you really care. That’s what I loved about Steve Carell’s performance on The Office — you were never quite sure when you were going to care and it felt good when you did. And satisfying. This episode is really satisfying and it’s really sad, but really funny. And it’s given us a great arc to write — Leslie’s not able to deal with Ann leaving and how she’s struggling against it — all that stuff is really funny and fun to play.”
She doesn’t view the departure of her longtime co-stars as a permanent goodbye, though. “Nobody is ever really going to leave Pawnee — we’ll never let them leave,” she quips. “We just brought back a [small character] from season 1: ‘We need that guy who played the thing…’ Everybody still exists, all the time… Rob and Rashida are off doing big, great things, and I live a block away from Rashida, so she’ll never escape me.”
…and just like that, Pawnee has said goodbye to Chris and Ann. And while their move devastated Leslie Knope to the point of nearly rejecting an invitation to breakfast, in all, tonight’s farewell to Chris and Ann was a fitting one.
The episode revolved around Leslie’s efforts to execute one last huge, thoughtful surprise for her departing best friend by breaking ground on the Pawnee Commons, fulfilling a pinky promise to Ann she’d made when they first met. That proved harder than anticipated, though, as her efforts were blocked by Harold from Public Works (Chris Bauer). So while the gang enjoyed an epic party, comprised of 30 mini-parties to celebrate every holiday Ann and Leslie would not be able to celebrate together, Ann and Leslie teamed up to make the Pawnee Commons a reality.
As you might guess, they succeeded, and with that, put a period on an on-screen friendship by which all other friendships in our lives should be molded.
In a time when it’s notably difficult to find healthy, realistic female friendships on TV, Leslie and Ann were a bright spot. They were supportive, loyal, and simply kind to each other. Like, ‘I’ll pack you sandwiches for your road trip’ level of kind. And if we’re being honest, kindness between women is almost as hard to find on TV these days as teenage virgins. In saying goodbye to the beautiful tropical fish that is Ann, we’re saying goodbye to the weekly reminder that our friendships should be as pure and sincere as the one shared between these two women and that anything less is, frankly, not worth your time. At least, that’s when their friendship meant to me, and 103 scrapbooks could not contain the number of thank you notes I owe them for that.
I should mention that Chris, who in his time on the show became one of my favorite characters on TV, also had a wonderful farewell storyline that involved the whole rag-tag group of male characters. That group too have shared an odd friendship because, in real life, none of these men make sense as friends. But somehow it always worked on screen. Without Chris, I’m sure it still will; we should not forget that this ensemble show has more talent than its half hour can sometimes contain. That fact doesn’t make goodbye any easier, though.
Chris and Ann, we won’t forget you soon — or literally ever. That’s more than a promise. It’s a pinky promise.
“Awww. Ice cream sandwich taste test. That was our biggest fight.” — Leslie
“There is no time like the present — fun pun alert!” — Chris, giving presents
“Ain’t no party like a Leslie Knope party because a Leslie Knope party is actually 30 parties.” — Leslie, my hero
Ben, re: Chris’s gifts: He put a lot of work into our presents. I feel kind of bad just getting him a gift card.
Ron: I also shook his hand…twice. Anything more than that would be excessive.
“…have fun in Mexico” — Andy
Chris: Donna, are you grabbing my butt?
Donna: Can you blame me?
“You totally changed me…” — Leslie to Ann
“We wait for no man.” — Ann
“You are literally one of the best friends I will ever have.” — Chris
“I just want you to know that I used to think there was no man on Earth good enough for Ann Perkins. And I still think that. But if there is no one actually good enough for her, you are pretty damn close.” — Leslie
Leslie: I love you.
Ann: I love you too.
“There has never been a sadness that can’t be cured by breakfast food.” — Ron
Andy: We call double shotgun. How come people don’t do that more often?
Ben: It’s illegal.
that last scene was flawless though