Parks and Recreation, Season 5, Episode 2, “Soda Tax”
Written by Greg Daniels & Michael Schur
Airs Thursdays at 9:30pm ET on NBC
I am really enjoying watching Parks and Recreation grow as a show from season to season. It started off as something that was mildly amusing in season one but quickly found itself and has in my opinion improved each year. This season shows the struggles Leslie is now facing while working for city council. Before she only had the problems of the parks department to deal with but now that has expanded to the whole city.
First up on her agenda is fixing the issues with the amount of unhealthy soda being served to people. This made for a great sight gag in which we saw the ridiculous cup sizes that were being sold. The largest being a “child” size for which Leslie questions how it could possibly a child’s size and gets the response that it is “roughly the size of a two year old child in liquid form”. It is with this form of satire that the show excels.
The soda tax is reminiscent of New York Mayor Bloomberg’s large soda ban that occurred recently. While to me as someone outside of America it didn’t seem too big of a deal that he banned the size because it was unbelievably large, the response from the American public showed otherwise, just as we see with this episode as about half of Pawnee are against the tax.
Ben, meanwhile is facing problems of his own while working in D.C. He is in charge of a bunch of interns who do no work and don’t respect him. Ben can be very OCD when it comes to things but he does have a good point here. As the boss he needs to be respected and listened to. However, he is unable to fire them because they are all connected to important people. This was a funny but predictable revelation which was then improved upon once we saw him attempt to fit in with them via ultimate frisbee and what he considers to be cool phrases.
The final, and weakest story is that of Andy being trained by Tom and Chris to get in shape for his Police Officer physical exam. This was just an excuse to get Chris to face his problems of being alone and upon Tom’s advice admit that he needs help dealing with his issues. Chris is a very funny and cheerful character and so when he spirals like this, I have a very hard time believing it, despite what they use as an excuse for his joy.
Leslie eventually decides to vote in favour of the tax, even though she had earlier worried that it was the wrong thing to do because people may get fired as a result. She comes to this conclusion after Ron gives her yet another pep talk on how he had initially wanted to fire her and even filed for it 4 times before retracting it because he could see she was strong minded and independent in her thinking.
The Ron and Leslie moments are always so great and you can see how much she looks up to him and how he respects her. This is a relationship that we are beginning to see with Ben and April, although it is a much slower version since she is only willing to give 15% effort to him after he yells at her.