Parks and Rec’s greatest strength is that it makes us fall in love with its characters. We get to know them, we accept their quirks, we watch them grow. We love them because it is so clear that they are loved by the writers who create them and the actors who bring them to life. These characters’ lives intertwine and they change each other for the better; it really is a joy to watch. The farewell episode for Chris and Ann was a chance to look back on how these two have intertwined with the rest of the beloved gang, and a chance to count the ways Rod Lowe and Rashida Jones have changed Parks and Rec for the better.
Chris and Ann’s farewell episode was a combination of emotional exploration and inside jokes. While Leslie spent a good deal of time reflecting on all the ways Ann has influenced her and Ben tried hard to give Chris a meaningful goodbye gift, we also got to relive some good moments from the period of the show at ththese two occupied. Orin! “Pistol” Pete Disellio! Dr. Richard Nygard! The pit! The “Kickass” hard hats! It was like the writers elbowing us in the side to say, “See? You’ll miss Chris and Ann just as much as Ben and Leslie will.” And it’s probably true.
So while this episode was one of the most touching all season, let’s continue what the writers started – let’s look back on Chris and Ann, back on what Lowe and Jones have given us, and take a moment to give a little thanks.
Chris’s “literally” quotes.
Chris’s positivity was at times emotionally deafening, but it was also a big part of his charm. He could spin any situation into something awesome; he was so incredibly happy all the time! But what started as a bizarre and easily mockable character trait turned out to be really valuable for the show – it was reliable comedic relief, it was an excellent counterpoint to Ron’s stony-faced demeanour, and it was something the writers could shatter in order to encourage Chris’s personal growth. Lowe sold it every time, without fail. ‘Cause really – with a face like that, how could Rob Lowe not be the picture of happiness?
Ann being drunk.
Throughout the series, Ann was a wonderful foil for Leslie, often acting as the cool-headed voice of reason against her friend’s hotheaded over-enthusiasm. But how wonderful was it to see Ann get a little nutso, too? Drunk Ann was fun, but she was also vulnerable and honest and angry in a way that gave us a more rounded view of her as a character. And Rashida Jones was gifted at bringing Drunk Ann to life – girl knows her way around a bottle of Snake Juice.
Chris’s infamous dance skills were another example of how Lowe’s character managed to be both comedic relief and something deeper at the same time. Sure, his moves were reminiscent of a drunk Elaine Benes, but they were more than that; they were a reminder that beneath his polished, fit, strong-jawed exterior, Chris was a passionate goofball. Lowe danced so badly and with so much abandon that people across the internet have often wondered, “Does Rob Lowe really dance like that?” I really, really hope so.
Ann trying to help April.
When Ann’s in full wanna-be-a-mom mode and finds out April’s going to vet school, she takes it as her chance to practice that whole maternal guidance thing by escorting April to orientation. When April returns the favour by pranking Ann (multiple times), and then decides to forgo school altogether, Ann gets ticked, but… then she understands. She gets it. This was a great moment for Ann because it felt like she and April finally clicked; like she and April finally achieved that special, unspoken, invisible-but-solid bond that Ann had been wanting all along. Apparently Jones and Aubrey Plaza are good friends in real life, too, so their on-screen chemistry makes perfect sense.
Chris in digestive distress with Ben and Ron.
This made my list of Parks and Rec’s Best Food Moments a while back, and with good reason. Sure, it’s disgusting, but it’s also one of Chris’s most endearing moments. Not only is it a little satisfying to know that even a perfect human specimen isn’t immune from a bad calzone, but it’s nice to watch these men bond over their pain. Even the process of shooting this must have prompted some bonding between Lowe, Nick Offerman, and Adam Scott; you can’t spend the day getting sweaty and rolling around on the carpet with someone without feeling a little closer afterwards.
Ann’s friendship with Leslie.
I know this isn’t one isolated moment, but cumulatively, it was Ann’s most massive contribution to the show. She supported Leslie, helped her through rough patches, encouraged her to go for it with the love of her life, campaigned for her city council seat, laughed with her, flirted for her, fought alongside her, and brought her back from the brink of all-out insanity on more than one occasion. Ann helped Leslie in ways Leslie didn’t even know she needed. Oh, and she also gave Leslie an excuse to use some of the show’s most creative compliments (“Oh Ann, you beautiful, naive, sophisticated, newborn baby.”).
Are you as bummed to see Chris and Ann go as Ben and Leslie are? What are your favourite moments from their arcs on the show? Are you drowning your pain a massive pile of waffles right now..? I am.
Hannah McIlveen is a freelance graphic designer and TV-obsessed writer living in Nova Scotia, Canada. She grew up riding horses and reading Roald Dahl books, got an art degree, and then spent the next several years moving around the country and watching television. Her greatest goals in life are to write good stuff, produce a web series, build a house with her husband, and have six cats at once. Hannah has contributed to BitchMagazine.org and is a staff blogger for the soon-to-launch TeenSized.com. She also writes her own daily blog, Click Watch Write. Hannah can be accosted on Twitter @ClickWatchWrite.