'Parks and Recreation' and babies: What will happen to the show?

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Image Credit: Ben Cohen/NBC

[SPOILERS AHEAD if you haven't watched the latest episode of Parks and Recreation!]

The news is out: Ben and Leslie are having triplets! In real life, this would be cause for congratulations (and a hearty “good luck”), but this is TV, so of course this is the perfect opportunity to think about what will come of this revelation.

But first of all, why triplets? “It was sort of like, well, Leslie is famously sort of an overachiever, and having her body overachieve in terms of starting her family just seemed like a very logical thing to have happen,” showrunner Mike Schur said in a conference call Friday. “Twins was sorta like okay, that’s one level of overachievement, but triplets, that’s a winner.”

Babies could do great things for the show, but as sitcoms have proved in the past, “could do great things for the show” sometimes turns into “doesn’t do great things for the show.” Could Parks and Recreation break that cycle or is this another TV comedy that’s as doomed as Ben and Leslie’s finances? Let’s evaluate:

It could be great because: Leslie loves doting on people, shown by her obsession with anniversaries of every sort and her scrapbooking talents, and kids would be the perfect target for Leslie’s love now that Ann is gone (tear).
…But: Babies won’t be able to respond to Leslie’s extreme devotion the way Ann and Ben can, and watching the two bond over how overwhelmed they feel by Leslie’s (slightly obsessive) love is half the fun.

It could be great because: Three kids means three times the responsibility of one kid, which means this will probably cause a lot of stress and a lot more Ben freakouts — and who doesn’t love Ben freakouts? We’ve already seen how adorably ridiculous he gets when he stress-drinks blueberry wine, and it keeps things interesting to see the composed and obsessive Ben break down. Ben Wyatt, he’s just like us!
…But: Ben stressing out can only be amusing for so long until it gets to the point where he’s, like, an alcoholic. And no one wants that. Plus, we’ve seen the stressed-out new dad trope before, so it’s up to the writers to make sure Ben doesn’t stay in that territory — it’s okay (and relatable) for him to be worried occasionally, but we also look to Ben to be the logical one. If Ben turns into a permanent basketcase, then what hope do the rest of us have?

It could be great because: The toils of pregnancy will probably take a toll on Leslie, and this will give Ben the chance to shine, husband-wise. Parks and Rec could always use more Ben-Leslie aww moments.
…But: Okay, it’s hard to argue with more cute Ben and Leslie time.

It could be great because: Leslie is obviously a motivated, high-energy woman and this could be a good chance for her to show that she’s unflappable no matter what (as if she hasn’t already proven that enough).
…But: As Leslie summed up in Thursday’s episode, “slowing down isn’t really my jam” — and it seems like it’d be difficult to keep up the momentum while carrying three (three!) babies. Unless there’s a time-jump between seasons, watching Leslie’s pregnancy play out could just end up being a bunch of Leslie having typical-TV wacky cravings and struggling with her newly imposed physical limits like she’s already kind-of done in “Flu Season.” Leslie Knope is the real star of Parks and Rec, and although her pregnancy has the potential to be an interesting (and funny) plotline, it shouldn’t outshine everything else about Leslie — her work, her relationship with Ben, her quest for a new Ann. But it runs the risk of doing so, simply because, well, pregnancy tends to turn TV characters into just pregnant women instead of pregnant women who also do this and that. Bottom line: Let Leslie be Leslie without making her life all about the pregnancy and we’re good, Parks. 

How do you feel about Ben and Leslie’s future on the show? Are you already enthusiastically planning a baby shower or are you slowly distancing yourself from the show? And — perhaps most important — what are your baby name suggestions?

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