When we last left Pawnee — a ridiculously long eight months ago — Parks and Recreation's romantic entanglements were only beginning to get, well, really tangled.
Visiting auditors Ben (Adam Scott) and Chris (Rob Lowe) took a shine to Leslie (Amy Poehler) and Ann (Rashida Jones), but Leslie kind of hated Chris' cynical attitude toward government, and Ann kind of hated that she got drunk and hooked up with Chris. Then there's April (Aubrey Plaza), who really hated Andy (Chris Pratt) for letting Ann kiss him, and Ron (Nick Offerman), who flat-out hates his ex (at least when they're not making sweet, sweet love.)
Yeah, take that Gossip Girl.
Will the parks department be overtaken by lonely hearts? The cast talked to TVGuide.com about where Pawnee's would-be odd couples are headed this season (premiering Thursday at 9:30/8:30c on NBC).
Ben and Leslie, A Slow-to-Burn Love Story: At the outset, Ben's cynical nature — bred by a hellish term as a teenage mayor — seemed to clash with Leslie's unflappable optimism. But resisting her can-do spirit will prove impossible once they team up to mount a massive harvest festival for the town. "She can soften up just about anyone," Scott says. He goes on a campaign to find festival investors for Leslie, in spite of a serious (and hilarious) lack of public speaking skills. And when she gets the flu, which makes her super loopy, he brings her homemade chicken soup! Awww.
Also helping their romance: "Ben starts to fall in love with Pawnee," Poehler says. "And that's the way to Leslie's heart, you know? To love the town. It's like she's a single mother. 'If you love my kids...'" Working toward a common goal will also bring out his buried (and her not-so-secret) political aspirations. "They're actually alike in many ways," Scott says. "They're both very ambitious... Ben is just overly cautious because of all the terrible stuff that happened to him as a teen."
Still, look for Chris to warn Ben against dating a colleague. "Chris doesn't approve of interoffice relationships, so when they start to have feelings for each other, they don't know what to do," Poehler says. "They both like their jobs a lot."
Ron and Tammy, Sex So Wrong It's Right (But Still Wrong): To give away anything about what some would call the "epic" reunion of Ron and his manipulative ex Tammy (Offerman's real-life wife Megan Mullally) would be, to put it mildly, a crime against humanity. But here's what Jim O'Heir, who plays Jerry, says about the upcoming sequel to Season 2's "Ron and Tammy": "I keep telling Nick that's his Emmy episode. When you see what he does, I mean, he's like Ron, but then Tammy takes him to otherworldly Ron."
Offerman says he even got "exceedingly uncomfortable" while filming their rather graphic encounters — in a good way! "My wife goes deep, both figuratively and literally, with both hands," he explains. "The writers really exploit our real-life relationship, so they were able to take the characters to more intimate places than a couple of co-stars would usually go. When they decided to do a sequel, there's nothing to do but try to go deeper and more crazy."
Watch for it all to lead to a night in jail.
April and Andy, The Beavis and Butthead of Pawnee: How did Andy become the show's most lovable bachelor? Pratt's still trying to figure it out. "In the weird, fictional world our writers have created, somehow a fat, schlubby, semi-retarded shoeshine boy is caught in the middle of a love triangle between two Hollywood cover girls," he says.
But that was then. While April spent last season flirting with the blissfully unaware Andy, his screw-up with Ann has turned things around. Turns out April spent the summer ignoring all of Andy's apology calls. "She brings back this guy from Venezuela," Plaza says. "But I think it's pretty obvious that she's doing it to get back at him. She hasn't stopped liking him. If anything she likes him more." (It doesn't help that Andy winds up winning over her new boyfriend; their mutual love? The Dave Matthews Band.)
Poehler teases that when April and Andy do come together, "their trajectory is crazy. Like that story gets really crazy really fast in a really funny way." Plaza adds: "Andy and April might do something that will shock everyone. I think what they've done with our characters has never been done before."
Hmm, any specifics? "They're like Beavis and Butthead who have sex," Pratt says. "They're both pretty sophomoric and immature. As all couples should be, they're best friends first." Plaza says their relationship has a lot of tenderness, too. "Chris is really easy to be in love with," she says. "I don't know why. We're very close and that helps a lot. It never feels forced. Also, I'm totally in love with him in my real life."
Ann and Chris, Finding Mr. (Way Too) Right: Ann has hopped from lazy Andy to jaded Mark (Paul Schneider, who is not returning this season) and is, for the first time on the show, single. She doesn't like that. "Ann's in confusing times. She doesn't know who she is," Jones says, explaining her character's stolen smooch with Andy and her drunken hook-up with Chris last season.
Then, Ann surprises herself when Chris' relentlessly bright and cheery disposition rubs off on her. It doesn't hurt that he categorizes their first date as his single best first date ever.
"I think women over-correct from their last boyfriends, and Chris is very much the opposite from Mark," Jones says. "He's so positive and persistent. And, really, why the hell not? He's gorgeous, he's athletic and he likes me. I actually start to like him."
How long will it last? Let's just say Ann will be serial dating by mid-season. "I'm terrible at it, and then I get really good at it," Jones says. "Too good."
Are you excited for Parks and Recreation's return?