Spoilers ahead for the Parks and Recreation reunion special.
We're obviously living in unprecedented times. People are spend much more time at home in self-isolation, and TV and film sets have been shut down. But there has been some surprising content coming out as a result, like Disney+'s At Home with Olaf shorts. Last night NBC aired a Parks and Recreation reunion special, which the cast filmed from the safety of their own homes. It was 30 minutes of laughs and cameos, but my favorite character unfortunately didn't make the cut. I'm talking about none other than Mona-Lisa Saperstein.
Mona-Lisa Saperstein was played by Jenny Slate during Parks and Recreation, and was a true agent of chaos. Mona-Lisa is Jean-Ralphio's twin sister, but has an extra touch of extra instability aka comedy gold. While I didn't originally expect to see Slate pop up in A Parks and Recreation Reunion Special, the various cameos that occured throughout its runtime changed my expectations. Ultimately I was bummed to see Mona-Lisa excluded from the fun, especially once Jean-Ralphio appeared (and Ben Schwartz basically stole the show).
In the second act of A Parks and Recreation Reunion Special, Ben and Leslie appear on local Pawnee TV programs to try and promote social distancing and safety from its residents. This brought on the appearance of both Perd Hapley and Joan Callamezzo, to delightful results. In a "commercial break" Jean-Ralphio took over and updated the fans on his latest acts of debauchery. This is when I thought Jenny Slate's character would suddenly interject with her own video, but that moment never happened. Cue the tears
It's more than possible that Mona-Lisa's appearance simply wasn't needed to make the Parks and Recreation reunion into a reality, or that Jenny Slate was unable to film an appearance. But I loved her tenure on the show, which extended through the series finale. Altough Jean-Ralphio's appearance did scratch that Saperstein itch for me, and might have been my personal favorite part of the special.
You can check out Ben Schwartz' return to Jean-Ralphio from A Parks and Recreation Reunion Special below, courtesy of his personal Twitter.
Seriously, how much joy does that spark? While I'm bummed that Mona-Lisa didn't make it into A Parks and Recreation Reunion Special, the entire block of television was a joy bomb that I'm super appreciative for. If you watching the tribute that aired prior to the special, you were treated to a full hour of Pawnee and its residents. That's what I call prime comfort TV.
The webcam format was used expertly, and made me want to do a re-watch of Lisa Kudrow's Web Therapy. It was particularly fun to see how the team wrote around the fact that married characters weren't in the same room. While Ann Perkins was sequestering herself away from the family since she was working as a nurse, Andy got locked in his shed and April refused to let him out. Typical Parks & Rec.
Parks and Recreation is currently streaming on Netflix. Be sure to check out our midseason premiere list to plan your next binge watch.
Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his famous actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.
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