Thursday's half-hour Parks and Recreation special was food for the soul, according to critics. Set amid the coronavirus pandemic, the episode sees Amy Poehler's Leslie Knope check in on her friends via Gryzzl, the tech company that had bought up much of Pawnee when we last left it when the series ended in 2015. Nearly the entire cast appears (excluding Paul Schneider's Mark Brendanawicz and Billy Eichner's Craig Middlebrooks). What critics are saying about the special, which raised money for Feeding America:
- It wasn't "flawless" but it was "perfect for the moment we're in" and a "welcome balm to the soul," writes Alan Sepinwall at Rolling Stone. There are creative explanations offered for why the married characters are separated, while the real-life married couple of Nick Offerman (Ron Swanson) and Megan Mullally (Tammy 2) did manage to appear together in what was a "wonderful" cameo for Mullally, who appears bound and gagged.
- "It was everything fans of the sweet, hopeful and hilarious series could have hoped for in this time of great need," writes Kelly Lawler at USA Today, who was brought to tears. "I couldn't help but cry" as the gang rallied to sing the Lil Sebastian tribute song. "Hopeful, funny and poignant," the episode "captured the essence of the series and the mood of the current crisis perfectly."
- Rob Lowe's Chris is giving blood four times a week, Rashida Jones' Ann is back to work as a nurse, Jim O'Heir's Garry has cancelled the annual Pawnee Popsicle Lick n' Pass, while Chris Pratt's Andy is locked in a shed and wants no help from Aubrey Plaza's April. "Burt Macklin, FBI, does not need anyone to help him escape a measly shed," Andy says, per Lauren Piester at E! News. In her view, the special "could not have been better."
- CNN's Sandra Gonzalez loved the emphasis on self care. At one point, Ron tells Leslie, "Don't spend all your time looking after other people. Look after yourself once in a while." "Perhaps, viewers needed this too," Gonzalez writes. At the very least, it was nice to see Leslie, who is "best known for looking out for her friends," Gonzalez writes. On Thursday, it felt like she had "all of our backs."
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