The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
Last year I took myself on a complicated mission to find myself the perfect comfort show: so I watched and rewatched many, many sitcoms, including Friends, How I Met Your Mother, Schitt’s Creek and Veep, to name a few. And in mid-2021, I finally found what I was looking for in Parks and Recreation.
Parks and Rec was created by Michael Schur and Greg Daniels, who worked on the U.S version of The Office. Daniels was one of the show’s creators, and Schur worked as a writer and producer. With the success of The Office, NBC wanted Daniels to create another hit, so he asked Schur to help. With that, and a few actors as inspiration, the pair created Parks and Recreation.
At first, and because of some similarities with The Office and unfair comparisons, Parks and Rec had some not-so-great reviews for its first season. However, it could be said that in a couple of seasons, the show found its track.
And some (me) may even say that the episode where everything fell into its place was season three’s “Flu Season.” Parks and Recreation is all about characters and how they end up in absurd and hilarious situations. In “Flu Season,” not only do we get some amusing moments, but we also get really deep into the characters’ storylines and personal developments. This is the episode where Ben and Leslie have their first sweet moment, when Ann and Chris are starting their relationship and when Andy finally admits his feelings for April. So let me recap this episode for you and talk about the moments that make it the best episode of Parks and Recreation.
“There is a crazy flu going around. Lots of miserable dehydrated people with high fevers and diarrhea.”
Okay, so it’s flu season in Pawnee and some of our favourite members of the Parks and Rec squad are sick at the hospital, including workaholic Leslie Knope, health-nut Chris Traeger and April Ludgate:
“And one of those dehydrated, high-fevered miserable people is April… who hates me.”
April is also sick and under the care of nurse Ann at the Pawnee hospital. However, April is mad at Ann for kissing Andy in the previous season’s finale, so she is being awful to her, which adds to the plot for this episode. Admittedly, this is the one thing I don’t like about this episode. As much as I love April, I’m always sad when I think about how she treats Ann here. Ann was just doing her job and was probably very overworked and April was being a real pain-in-the-ass to her in her workplace. But the silver lining in this is that by the end she ends up forgiving Andy and Ann.
“I’m just feeling really tired. I think maybe my allergies are acting up. I’ve already vomited, like, five times today.”
Leslie starts the episode being in denial of her flu symptoms as she doesn’t want to stop working in organizing the upcoming Harvest Festival. That is because the jobs of everyone in the Parks and Recreation department depend on the success of the event.
“Do I have to tuck my shirt in? Because, honestly, that’s kind of a dealbreaker.”
So while April is at the hospital, Ron hires Andy to take her place as his assistant for the day. This pairing creates so many hilarious scenes in this episode, as Andy speaks his mind and Ron enjoys his presence in the office. Some of my favourite quotes to come out of this partnership are:
“You had me at ‘Meat Tornado,’” which Ron says after Andy pitches him a new lunch idea and “I am surrounded by a lot of women in this office, and that includes the men,” again said by Ron about why he is enjoying spending the day with Andy.
“My body is like a microchip. A grain of sand could destroy it. My body is a microchip.”
At the same time, Chris is awfully scared of the flu, because, as he says, his body “has no fat to protect itself from disease, so things happen very quickly” to him.
“Oh my God. The microchip has been compromised.”
But guess what? He does get the flu and ends up in the hospital. Here he is being taken care of by Ann, which in some ways strengthens their relationship. They just started dating, and Ann feels a little intimidated by Chris’ “perfection,” so seeing him in the hospital in a situation—where he has to (hilariously) tell himself to “Stop. Pooping”—makes him seem more human to her. In the end, Ann is even grateful for the flu as she says, “I love the flu.”
“Leslie, I typed your symptoms into the thing up here, and it says you could have network connectivity problems.”
Well, now, this is one of the best moments in the entire series, and it perfectly demonstrated the comedic genius of Chris Pratt. As Leslie is leaving the office to finally go to the hospital, Andy, who is acting as Ron’s assistant for the day, blurs out this line, which was improvised by Pratt. Fun fact: the line ended up becoming one of creator Michael Schur’s favourite lines, who, to this day, is still a little mad that he couldn’t come up with it on his own.
“It’s not that I don’t trust Ben, it’s that I don’t have faith in Ben. And also, I am starting to forget who Ben is.”
After some pressure from her coworkers, Leslie ends up at the hospital. Now she is worried she isn’t going to be able to make it to an important presentation, so she spends the entire episode trying to run away from Ann’s care and get out of the hospital. She even steals April and Chris’ flu medication and attempts to leave the hospital wearing jeans as a scarf. Eventually, Leslie manages to literally run away from the hospital, finds Ben before he delivers the presentation and says one of my favourite lines from the entire series: “Oh boy, hold on. Be careful. The floor and the wall just switched.”
“That was… That was Leslie Knope.”
Anyway, she is able to give an amazing presentation, even sick with the flu and very high on the medications. This leaves Ben completely in awe of Leslie, and as he begins to compare what she did to some extraordinary situations, like a “flu-ridden Michael Jordan at the ‘97 NBA finals,” he realizes that there’s no one like her, which never fails to put a smile on my face. In an insane episode like this one, they still managed to fit in some extremely heartwarming moments, such as this. It’s just so beautiful to see the beginning of Ben and Leslie’s relationship, and it all starts with a complete mutual admiration of each other.
“Gross. Your forehead is all sweaty. That’s gross. But I still like you.”
This is another one of the few heartwarming moments strategically placed in this episode when Andy goes to visit April in the hospital. April was trying to stay away from Andy, because he had hurt her, but eventually, he finds out she is in the hospital. He then goes and attempts to talk to her, but she is asleep (or so we think). So he gives her a forehead kiss and opens up his heart to her.
“But I feel like we should ask for an extension to stay here.”
“They need our help.” “For the loose ends.”
And finally, this episode is also the beginning of Ben and Chris’ long history in Pawnee, as they decide to skip on a new assignment in another city to stay longer where they are, which leads to so many more adventures involving the pair.
In the end, this is the best episode, at least to me, because it has the biggest amount of laugh-out-loud moments, which for any sitcom, is a great thing. When I first had the idea for this piece, I kept thinking of the best moments in Parks that made me laugh the hardest and after a while, I noticed that a lot of them came from the same episode, hence my stance on this.
But yet, I can’t wrap this up without mentioning some other top-tier episodes that certainly deserve honourable mentions, such as: “Hunting Trip,” “Media Blitz”, “The Fight,” “Lil’ Sebastian,” “The Comeback Kid” and “Leslie and Ron.”