Parks and Rec may have teased a big shocker in the last few minutes of its season finale Thursday night, but the actual shocker played second fiddle to the real upset: Leslie Knope’s new bangs in the flash-forward.
On the episode of Parks and Recreation, we got a look at Future Leslie… with bangs. On How I Met Your Mother‘s season finale, we got at a look at Future Robin… with bangs. In Scandal‘s first season, flashbacks are signified by Olivia Pope going from bang-free to full-on fringed. On Friends, ’80s Rachel has — guess what? — bangs.
More and more, the fringe is used on TV to indicate a time change even though it’s basically useless, both expositorily and plot-wise. Time jumps are often accompanied by a title screen indicating as clearly as possible that the scene is either from the past or future: On the Parks and Rec season finale, a caption tells us we’re three years in the future as Leslie jaunts around the office with her new blonde bangs. All the men look the same — save for Ben’s gelled-back hair — but nope, not Leslie. How would we viewers figure out it was a time jump without the fringe?